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Lighting That Fire: The Proper Use of Continuous Ignition
Coming up with a catchy phrase to describe the proper use of continuous ignition on the CF34-3 engines is a challenge. To keep your engines singing the right tune on each and every start is, fortunately, a lot easier. The key to prolonged component life of the CF34-3 engine ignition system starts with a good understanding of the design architecture. For simplicity’s sake, the information provided here is specific to the CF34-3 engine, but the design concept is similar on other GE engines found on business jet applications, including the CF34-8C.
The CF34-3 ignition system is an airframe-powered, capacitor-discharge and high-tension type design. Each powerplant has dual engine circuits, for safety and redundancy, to supply the necessary electrical power required for combustion during engine start. They are labeled IGNITION-A and IGNITION-B. The components include: • • • • • Two ignition exciters Two ignition leads Two igniters L-ENG-R/IGNITION panel (cockpit) Static inverter (IGNITION-B)
CF34-4 Ignition System
The ignition systems for the left and the right engines are the same, but operate independently. Both exciter boxes utilize 115 volts AC and are identical part numbers. The IGNITION-A system is powered
by the 115 volts AC ESS Bus. The igniters are connected to the ignition exciters by means of two ignition leads. Igniter "A" . through the static inverter. Ignition System The two surface-gap type igniter plugs are located in bosses in the combustion chamber frame at the 2 and 10o’clock positions. They are located at (approximately) the 11 and 12 o’clock positions respectively. The 10 o’clock igniter plug represents the "A" ignition circuit as labeled in the cockpit. while the IGNITION-B system is powered by the 28 volts DC Bus. and the 2 o’clock plug represents the "B" ignition circuit.
Engine/Start Ignition Panel The continuous ignition mode may be selected by pressing the “CONT” ignition switch/light on the LENG-R/IGNITION panel. the ignition systems are controlled from the L-ENG-R/IGNITION panel. The related ignition green “ON” light illuminates along with the A or B ignition green EICAS IGNITION A (B) advisory message. and the IGNITION A (B) advisory EICAS message posts. both ignition systems A and B are activated. deactivating ignition. When ignition A or B is selected. the respective ignition system is armed and the white ARM light illuminates. With the starting system energized (L-R ENG START switch/light pressed). both green “ON” lights illuminate.Igniter "B" Operation There are three ignition system operational modes: In the normal (or manual) mode. power is supplied from the IGNITION SET switch/light to the engine start relays and then to the ignition power (exciter boxes). At this point. the start latch relay and the start bleed air relay de-energize. When the engine starts and accelerates to the idle speed. According to Bombardier training publications and FCOMs. The start sequence is latched and the START switch/light “switch” is released. the starter cutout switch opens at 55% N2. and EICAS messages un-post. When continuous ignition is selected. “continuous ignition must be used during the following flight conditions”: . the switch/lights extinguish.
Please note that both ignition systems A and B are disabled on the associated engine when the L (R) “ENGINE FIRE PUSH” switch/light is selected. GE Flight Operations Support queried multiple flight departments and industry training providers that have advocated the use of continuous ignition on all T/Os and Ldgs for their input.• • • • • Take-off and landings on contaminated runways Take-off with high crosswind components (greater than 10 knots) Flight through moderate or heavier-intensity rain Flight through moderate or heavier-intensity turbulence Flight in the vicinity of thunderstorms The auto-ignition mode is activated by the Stall Protection System (SPS) based upon angle-ofattack (AOA) data. ice. as the primary reason for differing from FCOM norms. some operators have reported that ignition system components have been replaced at 900 flight hours versus the engine maintenance manual limits of 1. etc. the white “ON” annunciation of the “CONT” switch/light will extinguish. Both ignition systems A and B are activated by the stall warning computer. and the IGNITION A/B advisory EICAS message remains displayed (to advise the crew that continuous ignition is still active on the unaffected engine). birds. There are no additional requirements for the use of continuous ignition on the Challenger 601/604/605/850/870/890 series aircraft. GE does not advocate any continuous ignition usage procedures conducted during engine flight . Best practices Flight operations departments can implement several best practices to prevent premature ignition system life-cycle reduction.). airframe OEM procedures supplant any information presented in this newsletter. Accordingly. and remain on until the airplane flight attitude is corrected. there are no regulatory or published techniques for the use of continuous ignition beyond what is stated here. Unnecessary use of continuous ignition has been demonstrated to reduce ignition system component life by 45% when exciter boxes work harder to fire deteriorated igniters.600. As always. The design of the fan and cowl minimizes FOD ingestion to the core airflow path and promotes the movement of contaminants into the bypass airflow. FOD is then ejected into the slipstream rather than causing an obstruction of compressor core airflow and combustor ignition. If continuous ignition was in use prior to the L (R) “ENGINE FIRE PUSH” switch/light being selected (to comply with an engine related checklist procedure). The nature of the fan design on the CF34 is such that FOD ingestion (e. Excessive use of the continuous ignition outside of FCOM guidance will lead to shorter life-cycle times and is detrimental to component life. but the green “ON” lights in the switch/lights remain illuminated. both systems are powered by 115 volts AC with system A receiving power from the AC ESS Bus and system B receiving power from the BATT Bus through a static inverter. In flight departments that have an internal policy of utilizing continuous ignition for every take-off and landing (T/O and Ldg. If you recall from the system description presented above. Most indicated their policies stemmed from concerns about engine operation due to FOD ingestion during T/O and Ldg. particulate matter.g. The system is also activated when the SPS is tested.) is designed to be thrown to the outer diameter of the fan by centrifugal force.
GE does not recommend the use of this excessive continuous ignition unless warranted (as directed by the AFM). We do. Again. GE’s instructions on the use of continuous ignition on the CF34-3 are as follows: A. Because of this. After a minimum of 1 minute of stable engine operation. activate continuous ignition before the activation of engine/cowl anti-ice. B. during heavy turbulence. with engine/cowl antiice activated. and engine/cowl anti-ice has not been activated. however. GE would recommend inspecting per the ESM…SEI-870. heavy precipitation. respect the authority of the pilot in command and pilot prerogative in operating the aircraft. continuous ignition may be deactivated. Use of continuous ignition in excess of these conditions will cause premature deterioration of the ignition exciters. If large quantity of ice on the airframe is detected. However. . and ignition leads. and in accordance with the Aircraft Flight Manual. GE Aviation Flight Operations Support is the proponent for the engine OIs. There is an economic impact as well to the use of continuous ignition. Our recommendations are to follow airframe FCOM guidance. in the proximity of lightning activity. either visually or by ice detectors. 72-00-00 – Maintenance Practice 17 – Table 201…every 200 hrs. The best practices presented here follow the GE engine operating instructions (OI) from which airplane flight manual (AFM) procedures are derived for the engine installation on Challenger 601/604/605/850/870/890 series aircraft. igniters. we would change our current inspection interval – based on that additional duration – to every 200 flight hours. Continuous ignition must be used during takeoff from contaminated runways.or certification tests as a basis for change in normal engine operating procedures. Our Product Support Engineering (PSE) has provided the following response to operator questions about continuous ignition usage: If we assume that the total ignition time for a given flight for both igniters is 15 min (both takeoff and landing combined)…that is roughly 8X the duration currently assumed in the manual. if an operator chooses to use continuous ignition during every takeoff and landing.
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