What is the best way to preserve the life of a backup attitude indicator (electric) when itís not needed for normal day VFR flight? Last Updated: 12/17/2008
The primary mode of failure in ALL mechanical gyroscopes is bearing failure. The rotor in a typical gyroscope is spinning at a rate of around 20,000 RPM. The rotor bearings therefore are experiencing a lot of wear. Additionally the gimbal bearings, while not rotating at that high rate, must support the weight of the entire rotor and gimbal assembly while also reacting to the constant movement of the aircraft while in flight. In an electric gyroscope, such as yours, the unit contains electronic circuitry that must convert the aircraft DC power into AC power in order to provide the correct drive signals for the motor. This conversion process is constant as long as the unit is turned on and this process generates a fair amount of heat within the unit. Heat generation places stress on the electronic components which will eventually cause the failure of one or more components. Therefore removing power from the unit and ceasing rotor operation is the best way to extend the life of the gyroscope overall.