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    245. Aircraft Systems Powerplant 🔴🔴🔴


    Aircraft engine or powerplant

    An aircraft engine, or powerplant, produces thrust to propel an aircraft. Reciprocating engines and turboprop engines work in combination with a propeller to produce thrust. Turbojet and turbofan engines produce thrust by increasing the velocity of air flowing through the engine. All of these powerplants also drive the various systems that support the operation of an aircraft.

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    Reciprocating Engines

    Most small aircraft are designed with reciprocating engines. The name is derived from the back-and-forth, or reciprocating, movement of the pistons that produces the mechanical energy necessary to accomplish work.

    Driven by a revitalization of the general aviation (GA) industry and advances in both material and engine design, reciprocating engine technology has improved dramatically over the past two decades. The integration of computerized engine management systems has improved fuel efficiency, decreased emissions, and reduced pilot workload. 

    Reciprocating engines operate on the basic principle of converting chemical energy (fuel) into mechanical energy. This conversion occurs within the cylinders of the engine through the process of combustion. The two primary reciprocating engine designs are the spark ignition and the compression ignition. The spark ignition reciprocating engine has served as the powerplant of choice for many years. In an effort to reduce operating costs, simplify design, and improve reliability, several engine manufacturers are turning to compression ignition as a viable alternative. Often referred to as jet fuel piston engines, compression ignition engines have the added advantage of utilizing readily available and lower cost diesel or jet fuel. 

    The main mechanical components of the spark ignition and the compression ignition engine are essentially the same. Both use cylindrical combustion chambers and pistons that travel the length of the cylinders to convert linear motion into the rotary motion of the crankshaft. The main difference between spark ignition and compression ignition is the process of igniting the fuel. Spark ignition engines use a spark plug to ignite a pre-mixed fuel-air mixture. (Fuel-air mixture is the ratio of the “weight” of fuel to the “weight” of air in the mixture to be burned.) A compression ignition engine first compresses the air in the cylinder, raising its temperature to a degree necessary for automatic ignition when fuel is injected into the cylinder. 

    These two engine designs can be further classified as:

    1. Cylinder arrangement with respect to the crankshaft— radial, in-line, v-type, or opposed

    2. Operating cycle—two or four

    3. Method of cooling—liquid or air  

    Radial engines were widely used during World War II and many are still in service today. With these engines, a row or rows of cylinders are arranged in a circular pattern around the crankcase. The main advantage of a radial engine is the favorable power-to-weight ratio.

    In-line engines have a comparatively small frontal area, but their power-to-weight ratios are relatively low. In addition, the rearmost cylinders of an air-cooled, in-line engine receive very little cooling air, so these engines are normally limited to four or six cylinders. V-type engines provide more horsepower than in-line engines and still retain a small frontal area.

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    Continued improvements in engine design led to the development of the horizontally-opposed engine, which remains the most popular reciprocating engines used on smaller aircraft. These engines always have an even number of cylinders, since a cylinder on one side of the crankcase “opposes” a cylinder on the other side. The majority of these engines are air cooled and usually are mounted in a horizontal position when installed on fixed-wing airplanes. Opposed-type engines have high power-to-weight ratios because they have a comparatively small, lightweight crankcase. In addition, the compact cylinder arrangement reduces the engine’s frontal area and allows a streamlined installation that minimizes aerodynamic drag.

    Depending on the engine manufacturer, all of these arrangements can be designed to utilize spark or compression ignition and operate on either a two- or four-stroke cycle. 

    In a two-stroke engine, the conversion of chemical energy into mechanical energy occurs over a two-stroke operating cycle. The intake, compression, power, and exhaust processes occur in only two strokes of the piston rather than the more common four strokes. Because a two-stroke engine has a power stroke upon each revolution of the crankshaft, it typically has higher power-to-weight ratio than a comparable four-stroke engine. Due to the inherent inefficiency and disproportionate emissions of the earliest designs, use of the two-stroke engine has been limited in aviation. 

    Recent advances in material and engine design have reduced many of the negative characteristics associated with two-stroke engines. Modern two-stroke engines often use conventional oil sumps, oil pumps, and full pressure fed lubrication systems. The use of direct fuel injection and pressurized air, characteristic of advanced compression ignition engines, make two-stroke compression ignition engines a viable alternative to the more common four-stroke spark ignition designs.

    Spark ignition four-stroke engines remain the most common design used in GA today. The main parts of a spark ignition reciprocating engine include the cylinders, crankcase, and accessory housing. The intake/exhaust valves, spark plugs, and pistons are located in the cylinders. The crankshaft and connecting rods are located in the crankcase. The magnetos are normally located on the engine accessory housing.    

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    In a four-stroke engine, the conversion of chemical energy into mechanical energy occurs over a four-stroke operating cycle. The intake, compression, power, and exhaust processes occur in four separate strokes of the piston in the following order.

    1. The intake stroke begins as the piston starts its downward travel. When this happens, the intake valve opens and the fuel-air mixture is drawn into the cylinder.

    2. The compression stroke begins when the intake valve closes, and the piston starts moving back to the top of the cylinder. This phase of the cycle is used to obtain a much greater power output from the fuel-air mixture once it is ignited.

    3. The power stroke begins when the fuel-air mixture is ignited. This causes a tremendous pressure increase in the cylinder and forces the piston downward away from the cylinder head, creating the power that turns the crankshaft. 

    4. The exhaust stroke is used to purge the cylinder of burned gases. It begins when the exhaust valve opens, and the piston starts to move toward the cylinder head once again. 

    Even when the engine is operated at a fairly low speed, the four-stroke cycle takes place several hundred times each minute. In a four-cylinder engine, each cylinder operates on a different stroke. Continuous rotation of a crankshaft is maintained by the precise timing of the power strokes in each cylinder. Continuous operation of the engine depends on the simultaneous function of auxiliary systems, including the induction, ignition, fuel, oil, cooling, and exhaust systems.    

    The latest advance in aircraft reciprocating engines was pioneered in the mid-1960s by Frank Thielert, who looked to the automotive industry for answers on how to integrate diesel technology into an aircraft engine. The advantage of a diesel-fueled reciprocating engine lies in the physical similarity of diesel and kerosene. Aircraft equipped with a diesel piston engine runs on standard aviation fuel kerosene, which provides more independence, higher reliability, lower consumption, and operational cost saving.

    In 1999, Thielert formed Thielert Aircraft Engines (TAE) to design, develop, certify, and manufacture a brand-new Jet-A-burning diesel cycle engine (also known as jet-fueled piston engine) for the GA industry. By March 2001, the first prototype engine became the first certified diesel engine since World War II. TAE continues to design and develop diesel cycle engines and other engine manufacturers, such as Société de Motorisations Aéronautiques (SMA), now offer jet-fueled piston engines as well. TAE engines can be found on the Diamond DA40 single and the DA42 Twin Star; the first diesel engine to be part of the type certificate of a new original equipment manufacturer (OEM) aircraft.

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    These engines have also gained a toehold in the retrofit market with a supplemental type certificate (STC) to reengine the Cessna 172 models and the Piper PA-28 family. The jet-fueled piston engine’s technology has continued to progress and a full authority digital engine control (FADEC, discussed more fully later in the chapter) is standard on such equipped aircraft, which minimizes complication of engine control. By 2007, various jet-fueled piston aircraft had logged well over 600,000 hours of service. 


    The propeller is a rotating airfoil, subject to induced drag, stalls, and other aerodynamic principles that apply to any airfoil. It provides the necessary thrust to pull, or in some cases push, the aircraft through the air. The engine power is used to rotate the propeller, which in turn generates thrust very similar to the manner in which a wing produces lift. The amount of thrust produced depends on the shape of the airfoil, the angle of attack (AOA) of the propeller blade, and the revolutions per minute (rpm) of the engine. The propeller itself is twisted so the blade angle changes from hub to tip. The greatest angle of incidence, or the highest pitch, is at the hub while the smallest angle of incidence or smallest pitch is at the tip.

    The reason for the twist is to produce uniform lift from the hub to the tip. As the blade rotates, there is a difference in the actual speed of the various portions of the blade. The tip of the blade travels faster than the part near the hub, because the tip travels a greater distance than the hub in the same length of time.  Changing the angle of incidence (pitch) from the hub to the tip to correspond with the speed produces uniform lift throughout the length of the blade. A propeller blade designed with the same angle of incidence throughout its entire length would be inefficient because as airspeed increases in flight, the portion near the hub would have a negative AOA while the blade tip would be stalled. Small aircraft are equipped with either one of two types of propellers: fixed-pitch or adjustable-pitch.

    Fixed-Pitch Propeller

    A propeller with fixed blade angles is a fixed-pitch propeller. The pitch of this propeller is set by the manufacturer and cannot be changed. Since a fixed-pitch propeller achieves the best efficiency only at a given combination of airspeed and rpm, the pitch setting is ideal for neither cruise nor climb. Thus, the aircraft suffers a bit in each performance category. The fixed-pitch propeller is used when low weight, simplicity, and low cost are needed.

    There are two types of fixed-pitch propellers: climb and cruise. Whether the airplane has a climb or cruise propeller installed depends upon its intended use. The climb propeller has a lower pitch, therefore less drag. Less drag results in higher rpm and more horsepower capability, which increases performance during takeoffs and climbs but decreases performance during cruising flight. 

    The cruise propeller has a higher pitch, therefore more drag. More drag results in lower rpm and less horsepower capability, which decreases performance during takeoffs and climbs but increases efficiency during cruising flight. 

    The propeller is usually mounted on a shaft, which may be an extension of the engine crankshaft. In this case, the rpm of the propeller would be the same as the crankshaft rpm. On some engines, the propeller is mounted on a shaft geared to the engine crankshaft. In this type, the rpm of the propeller is different than that of the engine. 

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    In a fixed-pitch propeller, the tachometer is the indicator of engine power. A tachometer is calibrated in hundreds of rpm and gives a direct indication of the engine and propeller rpm. The instrument is color coded with a green arc denoting the maximum continuous operating rpm. Some tachometers have additional markings to reflect engine and/or propeller limitations. The manufacturer’s recommendations should be used as a reference to clarify any misunderstanding of tachometer markings.    

    The rpm is regulated by the throttle, which controls the fuelair flow to the engine. At a given altitude, the higher the tachometer reading, the higher the power output of the engine.

    When operating altitude increases, the tachometer may not show correct power output of the engine. For example, 2,300 rpm at 5,000 feet produces less horsepower than 2,300 rpm at sea level because power output depends on air density. Air density decreases as altitude increases and a decrease in air density (higher density altitude) decreases the power output of the engine. As altitude changes, the position of the throttle must be changed to maintain the same rpm. As altitude is increased, the throttle must be opened further to indicate the same rpm as at a lower altitude. 

    Adjustable-Pitch Propeller 

    The adjustable-pitch propeller was the forerunner of the constant-speed propeller. It is a propeller with blades whose pitch can be adjusted on the ground with the engine not running, but which cannot be adjusted in flight. It is also referred to as a ground adjustable propeller. By the 1930s, pioneer aviation inventors were laying the ground work for automatic pitch-change mechanisms, which is why the term sometimes refers to modern constant-speed propellers that are adjustable in flight. 

    The first adjustable-pitch propeller systems provided only two pitch settings: low and high. Today, most adjustable-pitch propeller systems are capable of a range of pitch settings.

    A constant-speed propeller is a controllable-pitch propeller whose pitch is automatically varied in flight by a governor maintaining constant rpm despite varying air loads. It is the most common type of adjustable-pitch propeller. The main advantage of a constant-speed propeller is that it converts a high percentage of brake horsepower (BHP) into thrust horsepower (THP) over a wide range of rpm and airspeed combinations. A constant-speed propeller is more efficient than other propellers because it allows selection of the most efficient engine rpm for the given conditions. 

    An aircraft with a constant-speed propeller has two controls: the throttle and the propeller control. The throttle controls power output, and the propeller control regulates engine rpm. This regulates propeller rpm, which is registered on the tachometer. 

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    Once a specific rpm is selected, a governor automatically adjusts the propeller blade angle as necessary to maintain the selected rpm. For example, after setting the desired rpm during cruising flight, an increase in airspeed or decrease in propeller load causes the propeller blade angle to increase as necessary to maintain the selected rpm. A reduction in airspeed or increase in propeller load causes the propeller blade angle to decrease.

    The propeller’s constant-speed range, defined by the high and low pitch stops, is the range of possible blade angles for a constant-speed propeller. As long as the propeller blade angle is within the constant-speed range and not against either pitch stop, a constant engine rpm is maintained. If the propeller blades contact a pitch stop, the engine rpm will increase or decrease as appropriate, with changes in airspeed and propeller load. For example, once a specific rpm has been selected, if aircraft speed decreases enough to rotate the propeller blades until they contact the low pitch stop, any further decrease in airspeed will cause engine rpm to decrease the same way as if a fixed-pitch propeller were installed. The same holds true when an aircraft equipped with a constant-speed propeller accelerates to a faster airspeed. As the aircraft accelerates, the propeller blade angle increases to maintain the selected rpm until the high pitch stop is reached. Once this occurs, the blade angle cannot increase any further and engine rpm increases. 

    On aircraft equipped with a constant-speed propeller, power output is controlled by the throttle and indicated by a manifold pressure gauge. The gauge measures the absolute pressure of the fuel-air mixture inside the intake manifold and is more correctly a measure of manifold absolute pressure (MAP). At a constant rpm and altitude, the amount of power produced is directly related to the fuel-air mixture being delivered to the combustion chamber. As the throttle setting is increased, more fuel and air flows to the engine and MAP increases. When the engine is not running, the manifold pressure gauge indicates ambient air pressure (i.e., 29.92 inches mercury (29.92 "Hg)). When the engine is started, the manifold pressure indication decreases to a value less than ambient pressure (i.e., idle at 12 "Hg). Engine failure or power loss is indicated on the manifold gauge as an increase in manifold pressure to a value corresponding to the ambient air pressure at the altitude where the failure occurred.

    The manifold pressure gauge is color coded to indicate the engine’s operating range. The face of the manifold pressure gauge contains a green arc to show the normal operating range and a red radial line to indicate the upper limit of manifold pressure. 

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    For any given rpm, there is a manifold pressure that should not be exceeded. If manifold pressure is excessive for a given rpm, the pressure within the cylinders could be exceeded, placing undue stress on the cylinders. If repeated too frequently, this stress can weaken the cylinder components and eventually cause engine failure. 

    A pilot can avoid conditions that overstress the cylinders by being constantly aware of the rpm, especially when increasing the manifold pressure. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for power settings of a particular engine to maintain the proper relationship between manifold pressure and rpm. 

    When both manifold pressure and rpm need to be changed, avoid engine overstress by making power adjustments in the proper order:

    • When power settings are being decreased, reduce manifold pressure before reducing rpm. If rpm is reduced before manifold pressure, manifold pressure automatically increases, possibly exceeding the manufacturer’s tolerances.   

    • When power settings are being increased, reverse the order—increase rpm first, then manifold pressure.

    • To prevent damage to radial engines, minimize operating time at maximum rpm and manifold pressure, and avoid operation at maximum rpm and low manifold pressure.

    The engine and/or airframe manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed to prevent severe wear, fatigue, and damage to high-performance reciprocating engines. 

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    Propeller Overspeed in Piston Engine Aircraft

    On March 17, 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) CE-10-21. The subject was Propellers/Propulsers; Propeller Overspeed in Piston Engine Aircraft to alert operators, pilots, and aircraft manufacturers of concerns for an optimum response to a propeller overspeed in piston engine aircraft with variable pitch propellers. Although a SAIB is not regulatory in nature, the FAA recommends that the information be read and taken into consideration for the safety of flight.

    The document explains that a single-engine aircraft experienced a propeller overspeed during cruise flight at 7,000 feet. The pilot reported that the application of throttle resulted in a propeller overspeed with no appreciable thrust. The pilot attempted to glide to a nearby airport and established the “best glide” speed of 110 knots, as published in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH), but was unable to reach the airport and was forced to conduct an off-field landing. 

    It was further explained that a determination was made that the propeller experienced a failure causing the blade pitch change mechanism to move to the low pitch stop position. This caused the propeller to operate as a fixed-pitch propeller such that it changes rpm with changes in power and airspeed. The low pitch setting allows for maximum power during takeoff but can result in a propeller overspeed at a higher airspeed. 

    A performance evaluation of the flight condition was performed for the particular aircraft model involved in this incident. This evaluation indicated that an airspeed lower than the best glide speed would have resulted in increased thrust enabling the pilot to maintain level flight. There are numerous variables in aircraft, engines, and propellers that affect aircraft performance. For some aircraft models, the published best glide speed may not be low enough to generate adequate thrust for a given propeller installation in this situation (propeller blades at low pitch stop position). 

    The operators of aircraft with variable pitch propellers should be aware that in certain instances of propeller overspeed, the airspeed necessary to maintain level flight may be different than the speed associated with engine-out best glide speed. The appropriate emergency procedures should be followed to mitigate the emergency situation in the event of a propeller overspeed; however, pilots should be aware that some reduction in airspeed may result in the ability for continued safe flight and landing. The determination of an airspeed that is more suitable than engine-out best glide speed should only be conducted at a safe altitude when the pilot has time to determine an alternative course of action other than landing immediately. 

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    Induction Systems 

    The induction system brings in air from the outside, mixes it with fuel, and delivers the fuel-air mixture to the cylinder where combustion occurs. Outside air enters the induction system through an intake port on the front of the engine cowling. This port normally contains an air filter that inhibits the entry of dust and other foreign objects. Since the filter may occasionally become clogged, an alternate source of air must be available. Usually, the alternate air comes from inside the engine cowling, where it bypasses a clogged air filter. Some alternate air sources function automatically, while others operate manually. 

    Two types of induction systems are commonly used in small aircraft engines: 

    1. The carburetor system mixes the fuel and air in the carburetor before this mixture enters the intake manifold. 

    2. The fuel injection system mixes the fuel and air immediately before entry into each cylinder or injects fuel directly into each cylinder. 

    Carburetor Systems 

    Aircraft carburetors are separated into two categories: floattype carburetors and pressure-type carburetors. Float-type carburetors, complete with idling, accelerating, mixture control, idle cutoff, and power enrichment systems, are the most common of the two carburetor types. Pressure-type carburetors are usually not found on small aircraft. The basic difference between a float-type and a pressure-type carburetor is the delivery of fuel. The pressure-type carburetor delivers fuel under pressure by a fuel pump. 

    In the operation of the float-type carburetor system, the outside air first flows through an air filter, usually located at an air intake in the front part of the engine cowling. This filtered air flows into the carburetor and through a venturi, a narrow throat in the carburetor. When the air flows through the venturi, a low-pressure area is created that forces the fuel to flow through a main fuel jet located at the throat. The fuel then flows into the airstream where it is mixed with the flowing air. 

    The fuel-air mixture is then drawn through the intake manifold and into the combustion chambers where it is ignited. The float-type carburetor acquires its name from a float that rests on fuel within the float chamber. A needle attached to the float opens and closes an opening at the bottom of the carburetor bowl. This meters the amount of fuel entering into the carburetor, depending upon the position of the float, which is controlled by the level of fuel in the float chamber. When the level of the fuel forces the float to rise, the needle valve closes the fuel opening and shuts off the fuel flow to the carburetor. The needle valve opens again when the engine requires additional fuel. The flow of the fuel-air mixture to the combustion chambers is regulated by the throttle valve, which is controlled by the throttle in the flight deck. 

    The float-type carburetor has several distinct disadvantages. First, they do not function well during abrupt maneuvers. Secondly, the discharge of fuel at low pressure leads to incomplete vaporization and difficulty in discharging fuel into some types of supercharged systems. The chief disadvantage of the float-type carburetor, however, is its icing tendency. Since the float-type carburetor must discharge fuel at a point of low pressure, the discharge nozzle must be located at the venturi throat, and the throttle valve must be on the engine side of the discharge nozzle. This means that the drop in temperature due to fuel vaporization takes place within the venturi. As a result, ice readily forms in the venturi and on the throttle valve. 

    A pressure-type carburetor discharges fuel into the airstream at a pressure well above atmospheric pressure. This results in better vaporization and permits the discharge of fuel into the airstream on the engine side of the throttle valve. With the discharge nozzle in this position fuel vaporization takes place after the air has passed through the throttle valve and at a point where the drop in temperature is offset by heat from the engine. Thus, the danger of fuel vaporization icing is practically eliminated. The effects of rapid maneuvers and rough air on the pressure-type carburetors are negligible, since their fuel chambers remain filled under all operating conditions. 

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    Mixture Control 

    Carburetors are normally calibrated at sea-level air pressure where the correct fuel-air mixture ratio is established with the mixture control set in the FULL RICH position. However, as altitude increases, the density of air entering the carburetor decreases, while the density of the fuel remains the same. This creates a progressively richer mixture that can result in engine roughness and an appreciable loss of power. The roughness normally is due to spark plug fouling from excessive carbon buildup on the plugs. Carbon buildup occurs because the rich mixture lowers the temperature inside the cylinder, inhibiting complete combustion of the fuel. This condition may occur during the runup prior to takeoff at high-elevation airports and during climbs or cruise flight at high altitudes. To maintain the correct fuel-air mixture, the mixture must be leaned using the mixture control. Leaning the mixture decreases fuel flow, which compensates for the decreased air density at high altitude.

    During a descent from high altitude, the fuel-air mixture must be enriched, or it may become too lean. An overly lean mixture causes detonation, which may result in rough engine operation, overheating, and/or a loss of power. The best way to maintain the proper fuel-air mixture is to monitor the engine temperature and enrich the mixture as needed. Proper mixture control and better fuel economy for fuel-injected engines can be achieved by using an exhaust gas temperature (EGT) gauge. Since the process of adjusting the mixture can vary from one aircraft to another, it is important to refer to the airplane flight manual (AFM) or the POH to determine the specific procedures for a given aircraft. 

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    Carburetor Icing     

    As mentioned earlier, one disadvantage of the float-type carburetor is its icing tendency. Carburetor ice occurs due to the effect of fuel vaporization and the decrease in air pressure in the venturi, which causes a sharp temperature drop in the carburetor. If water vapor in the air condenses when the carburetor temperature is at or below freezing, ice may form on internal surfaces of the carburetor, including the throttle valve.

    The reduced air pressure, as well as the vaporization of fuel, contributes to the temperature decrease in the carburetor. Ice generally forms in the vicinity of the throttle valve and in the venturi throat. This restricts the flow of the fuel-air mixture and reduces power. If enough ice builds up, the engine may cease to operate. Carburetor ice is most likely to occur when temperatures are below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) or 21 degrees Celsius (°C) and the relative humidity is above 80 percent. Due to the sudden cooling that takes place in the carburetor, icing can occur even in outside air temperatures as high as 100 °F (38 °C) and humidity as low as 50 percent. This temperature drop can be as much as 60 to 70 absolute (versus relative) Fahrenheit degrees (70 x 100/180 = 38.89 Celsius degrees) (Remember there are 180 Fahrenheit degrees from freezing to boiling versus 100 degrees for the Celsius scale.) Therefore, an outside air temperature of 100 F (38 C), a temperature drop of an absolute 70 F degrees (38.89 Celsius degrees) results in an air temperature in the carburetor of 30 F (-1 C).

    The first indication of carburetor icing in an aircraft with a fixed-pitch propeller is a decrease in engine rpm, which may be followed by engine roughness. In an aircraft with a constant-speed propeller, carburetor icing is usually indicated by a decrease in manifold pressure, but no reduction in rpm. Propeller pitch is automatically adjusted to compensate for loss of power. Thus, a constant rpm is maintained. Although carburetor ice can occur during any phase of flight, it is particularly dangerous when using reduced power during a descent. Under certain conditions, carburetor ice could build unnoticed until power is added. To combat the effects of carburetor ice, engines with float-type carburetors employ a carburetor heat system. 

    Carburetor Heat 

    Carburetor heat is an anti-icing system that preheats the air before it reaches the carburetor and is intended to keep the fuel-air mixture above freezing to prevent the formation of carburetor ice. Carburetor heat can be used to melt ice that has already formed in the carburetor if the accumulation is not too great, but using carburetor heat as a preventative measure is the better option. Additionally, carburetor heat may be used as an alternate air source if the intake filter clogs, such as in sudden or unexpected airframe icing conditions. The carburetor heat should be checked during the engine runup. When using carburetor heat, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

    When conditions are conducive to carburetor icing during flight, periodic checks should be made to detect its presence. If detected, full carburetor heat should be applied immediately, and it should be left in the ON position until the pilot is certain that all the ice has been removed. If ice is present, applying partial heat or leaving heat on for an insufficient time might aggravate the situation. In extreme cases of carburetor icing, even after the ice has been removed, full carburetor heat should be used to prevent further ice formation. If installed, a carburetor temperature gauge is useful in determining when to use carburetor heat. 

    Whenever the throttle is closed during flight, the engine cools rapidly and vaporization of the fuel is less complete than if the engine is warm. Also, in this condition, the engine is more susceptible to carburetor icing. If carburetor icing conditions are suspected and closed-throttle operation anticipated, adjust the carburetor heat to the full ON position before closing the throttle and leave it on during the closed-throttle operation. The heat aids in vaporizing the fuel and helps prevent the formation of carburetor ice. Periodically, open the throttle smoothly for a few seconds to keep the engine warm; otherwise, the carburetor heater may not provide enough heat to prevent icing.

    The use of carburetor heat causes a decrease in engine power, sometimes up to 15 percent, because the heated air is less dense than the outside air that had been entering the engine. This enriches the mixture. When ice is present in an aircraft with a fixed-pitch propeller and carburetor heat is being used, there is a decrease in rpm, followed by a gradual increase in rpm as the ice melts. The engine also should run more smoothly after the ice has been removed. If ice is not present, the rpm decreases and then remains constant. When carburetor heat is used on an aircraft with a constant-speed propeller and ice is present, a decrease in the manifold pressure is noticed, followed by a gradual increase. If carburetor icing is not present, the gradual increase in manifold pressure is not apparent until the carburetor heat is turned off.

    It is imperative for a pilot to recognize carburetor ice when it forms during flight to prevent a loss in power, altitude, and/or airspeed. These symptoms may sometimes be accompanied by vibration or engine roughness. Once a power loss is noticed, immediate action should be taken to eliminate ice already formed in the carburetor and to prevent further ice formation. This is accomplished by applying full carburetor heat, which will further reduce power and may cause engine roughness as melted ice goes through the engine. These symptoms may last from 30 seconds to several minutes, depending on the severity of the icing. During this period, the pilot must resist the temptation to decrease the carburetor heat usage. Carburetor heat must remain in the full-hot position until normal power returns. 

    Since the use of carburetor heat tends to reduce the output of the engine and to increase the operating temperature, carburetor heat should not be used when full power is required (as during takeoff) or during normal engine operation, except to check for the presence of, or to remove, carburetor ice. 

    Aircraft Engine or Powerplant

    Carburetor Air Temperature Gauge 

    Some aircraft are equipped with a carburetor air temperature gauge, which is useful in detecting potential icing conditions. Usually, the face of the gauge is calibrated in degrees Celsius with a yellow arc indicating the carburetor air temperatures where icing may occur. This yellow arc typically ranges between –15 °C and +5 °C (5 °F and 41 °F). If the air temperature and moisture content of the air are such that carburetor icing is improbable, the engine can be operated with the indicator in the yellow range with no adverse effects. If the atmospheric conditions are conducive to carburetor icing, the indicator must be kept outside the yellow arc by application of carburetor heat. 

    Certain carburetor air temperature gauges have a red radial that indicates the maximum permissible carburetor inlet air temperature recommended by the engine manufacturer. If present, a green arc indicates the normal operating range. 

    Outside Air Temperature Gauge 

    Most aircraft are also equipped with an outside air temperature (OAT) gauge calibrated in both degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit. It provides the outside or ambient air temperature for calculating true airspeed and is useful in detecting potential icing conditions. 

    Fuel Injection Systems 

    In a fuel injection system, the fuel is injected directly into the cylinders, or just ahead of the intake valve. The air intake for the fuel injection system is similar to that used in a carburetor system, with an alternate air source located within the engine cowling. This source is used if the external air source is obstructed. The alternate air source is usually operated automatically, with a backup manual system that can be used if the automatic feature malfunctions. 

    A fuel injection system usually incorporates six basic components: an engine-driven fuel pump, a fuel-air control unit, a fuel manifold (fuel distributor), discharge nozzles, an auxiliary fuel pump, and fuel pressure/flow indicators. 

    The auxiliary fuel pump provides fuel under pressure to the fuel-air control unit for engine starting and/or emergency use. After starting, the engine-driven fuel pump provides fuel under pressure from the fuel tank to the fuel-air control unit. 

    This control unit, which essentially replaces the carburetor, meters fuel based on the mixture control setting and sends it to the fuel manifold valve at a rate controlled by the throttle. 

    After reaching the fuel manifold valve, the fuel is distributed to the individual fuel discharge nozzles. The discharge nozzles, which are located in each cylinder head, inject the fuel-air mixture directly into each cylinder intake port. 

    A fuel injection system is considered to be less susceptible to icing than a carburetor system, but impact icing on the air intake is a possibility in either system. Impact icing occurs when ice forms on the exterior of the aircraft and blocks openings, such as the air intake for the injection system. 

    The following are advantages of using fuel injection: 

    • Reduction in evaporative icing 

    • Better fuel flow 

    • Faster throttle response 

    • Precise control of mixture 

    • Better fuel distribution 

    • Easier cold weather starts       

    The following are disadvantages of using fuel injection: 

    • Difficulty in starting a hot engine 

    • Vapor locks during ground operations on hot days 

    • Problems associated with restarting an engine that quits because of fuel starvation  

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