The Types and Uses of Aircraft Circuit Breakers

Aircraft, with their intricate electronic components and electrical systems, rely on a multitude of safety measures to ensure their smooth operation, one such crucial safety feature being the circuit breaker. While it may be an unassuming device, circuit breakers play a vital role in safeguarding an aircraft's electrical system from overloads and short circuits. In this blog, we will delve into the realm of aircraft circuit breakers, exploring their types, uses, and the essential role they play in aviation safety.

Understanding the Basics of Circuit Breakers

Before we look into the specifics of aircraft circuit breakers, we will first establish a fundamental understanding of these electronic sentinels. In general, circuit breakers are protective devices designed to interrupt the flow of electric current when a fault is detected within an electrical circuit. Moreover, they act as the guardians of an aircraft's complex electrical systems, preventing electrical mishaps and catastrophic failures.

Types of Aircraft Circuit Breakers

Aircraft circuit breakers come in various types, each tailored to specific applications. The two primary types are thermal and magnetic circuit breakers.

  • Thermal Circuit Breakers: These circuit breakers utilize a bimetallic strip to control the flow of current. When the current exceeds a predetermined level, the bimetallic strip heats up, causing it to bend and open the circuit. This intuitive control mechanism allows thermal circuit breakers to protect against overloads, ensuring the electrical system's safety.

  • Magnetic Circuit Breakers: In contrast, magnetic circuit breakers operate based on the magnetic properties of current. When a fault occurs, the magnetic field generated by the current forces the circuit breaker's contacts to separate, thereby interrupting electrical flow. Magnetic circuit breakers excel at protecting against short circuits, rapidly responding to sudden surges of current.

The Role of Circuit Breakers in Aircraft

Now that we have explored the most common types of circuit breakers, we can now discuss their critical role within an aircraft.

  • Overload Protection: Aircraft circuit breakers prevent overloads in the electrical system, which can lead to excessive heating that may damage electronic components or even result in a fire. By swiftly disconnecting the circuit when a predetermined current threshold is exceeded, circuit breakers effectively safeguard an aircraft's electronic components.

  • Short Circuit Protection: Short circuits are another common electrical issue that can occur within an aircraft, occasionally leading to significant damage or even catastrophic failures. Magnetic circuit breakers forestall this situation by quickly responding to the surge in current, preventing the situation from escalating.

  • Fire Prevention: Circuit breakers play a pivotal role in fire prevention. In the event of a short circuit or overload, they prevent excessive current flow, reducing the risk of electrical fires. This is especially crucial on aircraft, where safety is paramount.

  • Landing Gear Safety: The landing gear assembly is one of the most critical components of an aircraft, and its safe operation is essential for successful landings and takeoffs. Circuit breakers are integral to the landing gear system, ensuring its electrical components function as intended. If a fault were to occur, the circuit breaker would disconnect the system, preventing malfunctions and potential accidents.

User-Friendly and Intuitive Controls

Aircraft circuit breakers are equipped with user-friendly and intuitive controls, making them accessible to maintenance personnel. This ease of use is paramount for quickly identifying and addressing issues in the aircraft's electrical systems. Furthermore, pilots and maintenance crews can quickly locate the circuit breaker associated with a specific system, providing a streamlined process for troubleshooting as well as resolving electrical problems.

In addition, circuit breakers are often color-coded or labeled to indicate their function and the systems they protect, further enhancing their accessibility. These visual cues simplify the identification of circuit breakers, even in high-stress situations, such as during emergency procedures or rapid maintenance checks.


Aircraft circuit breakers, available in both thermal and magnetic variants, are simple yet indispensable components of an aircraft's electrical system. They protect against overloads, short circuits, and potential fires, contributing significantly to aviation safety. With intuitive controls and clear labeling, circuit breakers aid maintenance crews in swiftly addressing electrical issues, ensuring the aircraft's reliability.

For all the circuit breakers and other similar items you need for carrying out operations, look no further than Industrial Gamut. We are one of the only independent distributors with a rigorous NO CHINA SOURCING commitment, meaning each purchased part will be delivered alongside any applicable qualifying certifications or manufacturing trace documentation for your benefit. Keeping that in mind, start the purchasing process for the items that you require from us today, and experience how we can serve as your strategic sourcing partner.


January 6, 2023

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