What is the Ram Air Turbine (RAT)?

When operating aircraft, pilots will typically rely upon a number of instruments and systems that function with the use of electrical power. In the instance that electrical power is lost, there must be some form of backup system so that pilots can continue to utilize flight controls, the aircraft communication system, aircraft navigation control, and other such devices. With a deployable wind turbine known as a ram air turbine, power can be generated from the airstream with the use of ram pressure.

Most aircraft with ram air turbine (RAT) parts will generally only rely on them in the case of an emergency, oftentimes being when both the primary and auxiliary power sources of the aircraft are lost. Connected to either a hydraulic pump or an electrical generator, the ram air turbine will generate power as needed until the aircraft is safely landed or power systems are brought back online. If the ram air turbine can only generate hydraulic power, that power will then be used to drive an electrical generator. On most aircraft, the ram air turbine will often be extendable from the fuselage or wing, and deployment may be automatic in some cases. As there will be a short duration between a loss of power and the extension of the turbine into the airstream, aircraft batteries are used until the RAT is ready. It is important to always remember that the ram air turbine’s output power is dictated by the amount of ram air it receives, thus a slower aircraft will achieve less power.

Ram air turbine parts are commonly found on military aircraft due to their strict requirements for survivability during complete losses of power. In some defense applications, ram air turbines may even be used during standard operations, allowing pod-fitted systems and high-powered electronics to be supplied sufficient energy for their operations. As an example, a system such as the M61A1 Vulcan cannon would then be able to be installed on a hardpoint without the need for a specific power source. In other instances, ram air turbines may be used to power radar altimeters and firing circuits for certain defense aircraft, allowing them to have more reliable operations as compared to using aircraft batteries.

Since the 1960s, numerous modern commercial airline models have implemented ram air turbine parts for emergency use. Depending on the aircraft, the size of the RAT may vary, and that will also dictate their ability to produce electricity. For instance, a small, low airspeed model on an aircraft may only generate around 400 watts. Meanwhile, a larger RAT on a commercial aircraft may produce as much as 79 kW of power depending on its generator. The largest RAT propellers that currently exist can be found on the Airbus A380 where the diameter of the propellers is 1.63 meters.

Beyond serving as a backup power source for civilian aircraft, ram air turbine parts also may be used on agricultural aircraft to power centrifugal pumps needed to pressurize spray systems for crop dusting. In countries such as the United States, a RAT may be implemented on an aircraft without having to modify an FAA-certified engine and power system, making them safe for agricultural aircraft. Additionally, RATs also help simplify the plumbing of the aircraft and ensure that any failure of the system has no effect on the overall performance of other systems.

When it comes time to begin sourcing the ram air turbine (RAT) parts that you need for your operations, look no further than Aviation Parts Circuit. Aviation Parts Circuit is a premier online distributor of aircraft parts, and we offer competitive pricing and rapid lead-times on a multitude of new, used, and obsolete items that we carry. As you peruse our expansive listings, you may request quotes on items through our RFQ system for comparisons. With industry experts readily on standby 24/7x365, we can provide personalized solutions to your needs in just 15 minutes or less. Get started now and see why customers choose to rely on Aviation Parts Circuit for their aircraft needs.


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