Aircraft Batteries and Their Types

Aircraft batteries are a vital component of aircraft functionality, providing ground power, emergency power, clearing faults, improving DC bus stability, and much more. The aircraft battery’s main function is to start the auxiliary power unit (APU) or generator of the aircraft, which then takes over for system powering and charges the battery through the rest of the flight. Typically, smaller aircraft feature lead acid batteries while larger commercial and corporate aircraft utilize NiCd batteries for powering.

The battery that is best suited for a specific aircraft depends on various factors, such as cost, weight, maintenance, service life, etc. In this blog, we will discuss some of the common types of batteries that are featured within aircraft and their characteristics.

Types of Aircraft Batteries

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead acid batteries come in two common types, dry charged cell lead acid batteries and valve-regulated lead acid batteries (VRLA). The dry charged cell lead acid battery, also referred to as a wet battery, contains charged and dried plates that are added to the battery when they are placed in service. Typically, the wet battery contains either 6 or 12 cells that are connected. Due to their venting of gasses, wet batteries need to have their water refilled periodically. VRLA batteries are often called sealed batteries, and their reactions are similar to the wet battery except for the presence of a gas recombination mechanism. VRLA batteries have little to no water loss during their charging phase, thus removing the need for periodic refilling.

NiCd Batteries

NiCd batteries are aircraft batteries that are placed within a steel or titanium box that contains individual cells that are placed in a series and provide either 12 or 24 volts. Due to the possibility of overcharge conditions and the production of oxygen and hydrogen gases, NiCd batteries allow for venting. Aircraft batteries such as NiCd will more often than not have a fault protection system to check for overheating, low temperature, cell imbalances, short circuits, and open circuits. If one of these conditions is detected, NiCd batteries will automatically shut down. NiCd aircraft batteries optimally perform in temperatures between 60-90 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important that NiCd batteries are not overcharged during excessive temperatures exceeding 160 degrees Fahrenheit, as this can result in thermal runaway. Thermal runaway is a condition in which NiCd batteries can erupt in a chemical fire or explode.

Due to their importance for powering the APU or generator, as well as providing emergency power, it is crucial that aircraft batteries are regularly inspected and maintained to avoid failure. Failure can cause expensive delays or dangerous situations that could be easily avoided with scheduled maintenance and repair. Shops that are dedicated to batteries are located across the globe and provide services to ensure batteries meet airworthiness standards. While maintenance intervals and methods differ by each battery manufacturer, the tools and procedures between lead acid and NiCd batteries typically are very similar.

As technology advances and we move closer to the realization of electric aircraft, aircraft batteries such as the Li-ion battery system may prove to be exactly what is needed to produce the weight reduction and voltage that is needed to go fully electric. As research is conducted on improved electrode materials and electrolyte compositions, the Li-ion battery may be retrofitted into aircraft. Nevertheless, until more breakthroughs are made to the Li-ion battery system, aircraft batteries such as NiCd and lead acid batteries will continue to provide powering for aircraft for years to come. At Accelerating RFQs, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find aircraft battery products you need, new or obsolete.For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-780-851-3631.


March 15, 2022

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