The Advantages of Switching Power Supplies for Aircraft Systems

In the aerospace industry, the reliable and efficient delivery of power to aircraft is of utmost importance. Choosing the right power supply technology can significantly impact the performance, safety, and operational costs of an aircraft. While ferro-resonant power supplies have been traditionally used in aviation, switching power supplies have emerged as a superior alternative. We exclusively use this technology at VDC Power.

In this blog post, we will explore the advantages of switching power supplies over ferro-resonant power supplies in powering aircraft systems.

  1. Efficiency and Power Density: Switching power supplies are known for their high efficiency. This translates into reduced power losses and increased energy savings. Compared to ferro-resonant power supplies, switching power supplies are typically more than 90% efficient. This high efficiency results in lower heat dissipation, which in turn reduces the need for cooling systems, saving both weight and space. The compact size and higher power density of switching power supplies make them particularly suitable for aircraft applications, where space and weight considerations are critical.

  2. Wide Input Voltage Range: Aircraft power systems need to accommodate a wide range of input voltages due to varying generator outputs and battery voltages. Switching power supplies are designed to handle a broader input voltage range, allowing for consistent power delivery regardless of fluctuations. This flexibility ensures that aircraft systems receive stable power even during transient conditions, minimizing the risk of system failures or voltage-related issues.

  3. Enhanced Reliability: Switching power supplies offer improved reliability compared to ferro-resonant power supplies. They are designed with advanced protection mechanisms such as over-voltage protection, over-current protection, and short-circuit protection. These features safeguard against voltage spikes, current surges, and potential electrical faults, preventing damage to critical aircraft systems. Switching power supplies also have a higher mean time between failures (MTBF) due to their solid-state design, reducing the likelihood of power supply failures and minimizing maintenance requirements.

  4. Lighter Weight: The weight of aircraft components is a crucial factor in aviation. Switching power supplies are significantly lighter than their ferro-resonant counterparts. This weight reduction contributes to overall aircraft weight savings, leading to improved fuel efficiency and increased payload capacity. Lighter power supplies also enable more flexible aircraft design possibilities and allow for the integration of additional systems or equipment.

  5. Noise and Harmonic Distortion: Switching power supplies produce less audible noise and harmonic distortion compared to ferro-resonant power supplies. This characteristic is vital in aviation, as excessive noise and distortion can interfere with sensitive aircraft equipment, communication systems, and cockpit operations. Switching power supplies utilize advanced filtering techniques to minimize electromagnetic interference (EMI) and provide clean power, ensuring optimal performance of onboard electronic devices.

Conclusion: Switching power supplies have revolutionized the way power is delivered to aircraft systems. With their high efficiency, wide input voltage range, enhanced reliability, lighter weight, and reduced noise and harmonic distortion, switching power supplies offer significant advantages over traditional ferro-resonant power supplies. Their compact size, energy efficiency, and advanced protection mechanisms make them the ideal choice for modern aircraft, providing reliable and optimized power delivery for critical onboard systems. As the aviation industry continues to evolve, embracing the advantages of switching power supplies will contribute to safer, more efficient, and technologically advanced aircraft.