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What is FADEC?

Posted by on April 14, 2008 4 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog

I am fresh off a visit to Sun N’ Fun last week in Lakeland, Florida.  There were a lot of neat exhibits that I would love to tell you about but that would probably bore you to death.  When I go to this kind of airshow I love visiting the exhibitor halls.  I like seeing what kind of exhibits people were congregated around.  It is a good way to notice what is particularly hot right now in the industry.

One of the things that is really hot right now is FADEC.  We have been hearing a lot about this technology and how GA is embracing this.  So what exactly is FADEC?

FADEC stands for Full Authority Digital Engine Control.  FADEC electronically monitors and adjust the engines for proper and smooth operation.  So instead of the pilot manually adjusting the mixture and throttle controls, the pilot is left with single-lever control for all phases of flight.  No more mixture, carberator heat, primer, or even prop control to mange, just one throttle lever to think about.

FADEC has been available for a while in turbine class aircraft but just has recently really begun to take on new life in general aviation.

What are some of the other advantages of FADEC for piston aircraft?

  • Waste Spark Ignition – We all know that spark plugs are easily fouled by excess carbon.  FADEC can reduces this by controlling the charge to individual spark plugs.
  • Ignition Timing – Because of the individual spark plug control, you can now also optimize your ignition timing for peak performance during climb, cruise and descent
  • Automatic Calibration – an aircraft engine is a dynamic system and things are constantly changing.  Important measures such as temperature, fuel pressure and even voltage fluctuations can impact engine performance.   By monitoring these and other parameters the engine becomes self regulating.
  • Density Altitude Compensation – no more mixture control!  FADEC monitor air density and temperature and will adjust fuel flow for optimal performance.  Just set it and forget it!
  • Downloading – Most people know how to download songs unto their computer.  Imagine being able to download your engine as well.  Being able to download and monitor engine performance can help to identify problems long before they manifest themselves during flight

There are many other operational advantages such as fuel savings, reduction in pilot workload and longer engine life just to name a few.

You can see learn more about FADEC at http://www.fadec.com

Fly Safe.


  1. Plas on Apr 14, 2008

    Your correctly pointed out the advantages of FADEC, but I want to add a couple of them to your list:

    1) No more dirty spark plugs because someone forgot to lean the mixture in flight… We all had to spend a couple of minutes before take-off because the mags check shook all the plane.

    2) Even very attentive pilots can miss a short over-temperature or over-pressure condition. This is because the gauges are not exactly accurate, and because we can’t scan the parameters every minute, wherease the FADEC scans them every millisecond !

    You can read more of my personnal FADEC experience under http://www.plasticpilot.net/blog/tag/fadec/

  2. instructor on Apr 14, 2008

    Thanks Plastic Pilot for the additional notes about some FADEC advantages

  3. Chris on Apr 14, 2008

    Sounds nice, but I’m still a sucker for the old stuff. I have more faith in mechanical linkages than I do in electrical cables.

  4. instructor on Apr 14, 2008

    I guess I can say I’ve seen both fail at some point. It’s nice to be able to physically see what broke and fix it rather than just pointing to a mysterious box and saying, “something inside that is what did it”

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