AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

Common Types of Resistors Used in Aviation

In the vast realm of aviation, where precision and reliability are paramount, resistors play a crucial role in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of various systems. These practical devices are electronic components that regulate the flow of electric current in a circuit by either resisting or impeding its flow. To better understand resistors, we will explore some of the common types used in aviation, including adjustable power resistors and carbon film resistors, as well as shed light on their functionality and applications.

Adjustable Power Resistors

For starters, adjustable power resistors are components known for their versatility and extensive use in aviation systems. As these resistors offer the flexibility of adjusting their resistance value, they enable precise control over the flow of electric currents. This characteristic proves invaluable in aircraft applications where dynamic power management is required. As such, adjustable power resistors are often utilized in systems such as power distribution units, motor controllers, and voltage regulators, which allows for the fine-tuning of electrical parameters to meet diverse operational demands.

Carbon Film Resistors

Widely used in aviation due to their excellent stability, dependability, and wide tolerance range, carbon film resistors are constructed by depositing a thin layer of carbon on a ceramic substrate, yielding a uniform resistive coating. Moreover, these resistors exhibit high-temperature stability, ensuring consistent performance even in harsh operating conditions. Above all, carbon film resistors offer low noise and are suitable for precision functions such as instrumentation, communication systems, and control circuits.

Wirewound Resistors

In addition to the other handy types of resistors, wirewound resistors are frequently employed due to their robust construction and high-power handling capabilities. In particular, these devices are made by winding a resistive wire, usually a nickel-chromium alloy or copper-nickel alloy, around a ceramic or fiberglass core. As they provide precise resistance values, high stability, and low inductance, they are well-equipped for projects involving power supplies, amplifiers, and electronic control units. More than that, wirewound resistors can handle higher power ratings, meaning they can withstand the challenging conditions in aircraft systems.

Metal Film Resistors

Metal film resistors are known for their superior precision and stability, they and are manufactured by depositing a thin layer of metal, such as nickel-chromium or tin oxide, onto a ceramic substrate. These resistors offer excellent temperature coefficient characteristics, ensuring minimal resistance changes with temperature fluctuations. For this reason, they are typically seen in aviation systems where accuracy is critical, such as navigation equipment, flight controls, and avionics. Additionally, their low noise properties and low voltage coefficients further contribute to their suitability for aircraft roles.

Thick Film Resistors

As we make it to the end of our resistors list, we cannot go without mentioning thick film resistors, which are popular in aviation due to their cost-effectiveness and versatility. They are fabricated by printing a resistive paste onto a ceramic substrate, which is subsequently cured to form a solid resistive layer. These resistors provide an array of resistance values and are apt for various aircraft systems, including lighting controls, communication modules, and engine management systems. As an additional advantage, thick film resistors exhibit good thermal stability, making them capable of withstanding elevated temperatures without significant changes in resistance levels.


As they guarantee the reliable and efficient operation of aircraft electronics, resistors are indispensable components in these systems. Furthermore, understanding the characteristics and applications of these devices is crucial in making informed decisions for your specific needs. That said, if you happen to be in search of high-quality resistors or their related parts, there is no better source than Stacked NSN. Here on our website, you can find a wealth of available items and can easily request quotes for your comparisons on anything that captures your attention. With a widespread supply network and our market expertise, we are proud to offer some of the quickest lead times in the market and are always ready to find a solution fit to your deadlines and specifications. For questions regarding our offerings or services, be sure to give us a call or email at your earliest convenience; we are available 24/7x365!


June 25, 2024
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