Preheating aircraft engines is extremely important. Giving a cold start to the engine without preheating causes much more wear and tear than 1000 hours of runtime will. Or worse, it could lead to engine failure after take-off. While the term preheating might sound like it is just about increasing an engine’s oil temperature, it is more than that. It involves heating the entire engine to bring all working components up to an optimal and safe temperature range.
Proper engine preheating makes an entire flight a smooth easy ride, especially during extreme weather conditions. To stress the importance of this step, here are 5 more crucial reasons to preheat an aircraft engine
1. Gives Your Aircraft a Smooth Kickstart
Smooth engine starts help significantly increase the durability and longevity of an aircraft's battery
and starter. This is because the warmer the aircraft is, the better and easier it is to start. When you are able to kickstart your engine on the very first attempt, it aids in reducing the chances of spark plugs getting frosted. This usually happens when moisture is generated during the combustion process.
2. Fends Off Premature Wear & Tear
The components constructing aircraft engines are made up of various metals like steel and aluminum
. In cold weather, these metals contract and expand at different levels. A drop in temperature can lead to clearances between components shrinking below prescribed safety limits. Cold starts force all internal moving parts to grind against each other, causing significant damage to the powerplant. Preheating allows all internal components of the engine to get to an optimal temperature for proper operation. It also prevents the engine from unnecessary wear and tear which extends the life of the engine.
3. Allows Smooth Flow of Oil
The more viscous the oil is, the more sluggish it flows across the engine. Weather plays an important role in maintaining the proper flow of oil. Cold weather is capable of changing the oil viscosity of the engine. Contrary to popular belief, high-quality multi-viscosity oils can also get affected by freezing temperatures.
Due to the cold weather, clearances present between parts of the engine may become restricted. This can stop the oil from getting to certain critical internal components of the engine. When you preheat your engine properly, you ensure that the oil flows seamlessly wherever it is supposed to.
4. Brings Down the Run-up Time
Various pre-flight preparations
are imperative for a smooth flight, and preheating the engine is an important part of it. Preparing and preheating the engine for flight considerably reduces run-up time while on the runway, and less run-up time is good news as it saves time, money, and fuel.
5. Enhances Safety
An aircraft engine requires the most power at the time of flight take-off, and this is a critical time for the pilot. If the engine starts when it is cold, it might not perform at the best of its abilities. Hence, preheating is a safety measure that is absolutely necessary to know that your aircraft is ready for takeoff in cold weather.
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