Thursday, December 24, 2009

Servicing of Oxygen Systems

Before servicing any aircraft with oxygen, consult the specific aircraft service manual to determine the type of equipment required and procedures to be used. Certain precautions should be observed whenever aircraft oxygen systems are to be serviced. Oxygen system servicing should be accomplished only when the aircraft is located outside of the hangars. Personal cleanliness and good housekeeping are imperative when working with oxygen. Oxygen under pressure and petroleum products create spontaneous results when they are brought in contact with each other. Service people should be certain to wash dirt, oil, and grease (including lip salves and hair oil) from their hands before working around oxygen equipment. It is also essential that clothing and tools are free of oil, grease, and dirt. Aircraft with permanently installed oxygen tanks usually require two persons to accomplish servicing of the system. One should be stationed at the service equipment control valves, and the other stationed where he or she can observe the aircraft system pressure gauges. Oxygen system servicing is not recommended during aircraft fueling operations or while other work is performed that could provide a source of ignition. Oxygen system servicing while passengers are on board the aircraft is not recommended.

Pulse Oximeters

A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in an individual’s blood, in addition to heart rate. This non-invasive device measures the color changes that red blood cells undergo when they become saturated with oxygen. By transmitting a special light beam through a fingertip to evaluate the color of the red cells, a pulse oximeter can calculate the degree of oxygen saturation within one percent of directly measured blood oxygen. Because of their portability and speed, pulse oximeters are very useful for pilots operating in nonpressurized aircraft above 12,500 feet where supplemental oxygen is required. A pulse oximeter permits crewmembers and passengers of an aircraft to evaluate their actual need for supplemental oxygen. [Figure 6-47]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Electrical Pulse-Demand Oxygen System

Portable electrical pulse-demand oxygen systems deliver oxygen by detecting an individual’s inhalation effort and provide oxygen flow during the initial portion of inhalation. Pulse demand systems do not waste oxygen during the breathing cycle because oxygen is only delivered during inhalation. Compared to continuous-flow systems, the pulse- demand method of oxygen delivery can reduce the amount of oxygen needed by 50–85 percent. Most pulse-demand oxygen systems also incorporate an internal barometer that automatically compensates for changes in altitude by increasing the amount of oxygen delivered for each pulse as altitude is increased. [Figure 6-46]

Continuous-Flow Oxygen System

Continuous-flow oxygen systems are usually provided for passengers. The passenger mask typically has a reservoir bag, which collects oxygen from the continuous-flow oxygen system during the time when the mask user is exhaling. The oxygen collected in the reservoir bag allows a higher aspiratory flow rate during the inhalation cycle, which reduces the amount of air dilution. Ambient air is added to the supplied oxygen during inhalation after the reservoir bag oxygen supply is depleted. The exhaled air is released to the cabin. [Figure 6-45]

Pressure-Demand Oxygen Systems

Pressure-demand oxygen systems are similar to diluter demand oxygen equipment, except that oxygen is supplied to the mask under pressure at cabin altitudes above 34,000 feet. Pressure-demand regulators create airtight and oxygen-tight seals, but they also provide a positive pressure application of oxygen to the mask face piece that allows the user’s lungs to be pressurized with oxygen. This feature makes pressure demand regulators safe at altitudes above 40,000 feet. Some systems may have a pressure demand mask with the regulator attached directly to the mask, rather than mounted on the instrument panel or other area within the flight deck. The mask-mounted regulator eliminates the problem of a long hose that must be purged of air before 100 percent oxygen begins flowing into the mask.

Diluter-Demand Oxygen Systems

Diluter-demand oxygen systems supply oxygen only when the user inhales through the mask. An automix lever allows the regulators to automatically mix cabin air and oxygen or supply 100 percent oxygen, depending on the altitude. The demand mask provides a tight seal over the face to prevent dilution with outside air and can be used safely up to 40,000 feet. A pilot who has a beard or mustache should be sure it is trimmed in a manner that will not interfere with the sealing of the oxygen mask. The fit of the mask around the beard or mustache should be checked on the ground for proper sealing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


A cannula is an ergonomic piece of plastic tubing which runs under the nose and is often used to administer oxygen in non-pressurized aircraft. [Figure 6-44] Cannulas are typically more comfortable then masks and can be used up to 18,000 feet. Altitudes greater than 18,000 feet require the use of an oxygen mask. Many cannulas have a flow meter in the line. If equipped, a periodic check of the green flow detector should be part of a pilot’s regular scan.

Oxygen Masks

There are numerous types and designs of oxygen masks in use. The most important factor in oxygen mask use is to insure the masks and oxygen system are compatible. Crew masks are fitted to the user’s face with a minimum of leakage and usually contain a microphone. Most masks are the oronasal type, which covers only the mouth and nose.
A passenger mask may be a simple, cup-shaped rubber molding sufficiently flexible to obviate individual fitting. It may have a simple elastic head strap or the passenger may hold it to his or her face.
All oxygen masks should be kept clean to reduce the danger of infection and prolong the life of the mask. To clean the mask, wash it with a mild soap and water solution and rinse it with clear water. If a microphone is installed, use a clean swab, instead of running water, to wipe off the soapy solution. The mask should also be disinfected. A gauze pad that has been soaked in a water solution of Merthiolate can be used to swab out the mask. This solution used should contain one-fifth teaspoon of Merthiolate per quart of water. Wipe the mask with a clean cloth and air dry.

Oxygen Systems

Most high altitude aircraft come equipped with some type of fixed oxygen installation. If the aircraft does not have a fixed installation, portable oxygen equipment must be readily accessible during flight. The portable equipment usually consists of a container, regulator, mask outlet, and pressure gauge. Aircraft oxygen is usually stored in high pressure system containers of 1,800–2,200 psi. When the ambient temperature surrounding an oxygen cylinder decreases, pressure within that cylinder decreases because pressure varies directly with temperature if the volume of a gas remains constant. If a drop in indicated pressure on a supplemental oxygen cylinder is noted, there is no reason to suspect depletion of the oxygen supply, which has simply been compacted due to storage of the containers in an unheated area of the aircraft. High pressure oxygen containers should be marked with the psi tolerance (i.e., 1,800 psi) before filling the container to that pressure. The containers should be supplied with aviation oxygen only, which is 100 percent pure oxygen. Industrial oxygen is not intended for breathing and may contain impurities, and medical oxygen contains water vapor that can freeze in the regulator when exposed to cold temperatures. To assure safety, periodic inspection and servicing of the oxygen system should be done.
Aircraft are flown at high altitudes for two reasons. First, an aircraft flown at high altitude consumes less fuel for a given airspeed than it does for the same speed at a lower altitude because the aircraft is more efficient at a high altitude. Second, bad weather and turbulence may be avoided by flying in relatively smooth air above the storms. Many modern aircraft are being designed to operate at high altitudes, taking advantage of that environment. In order to fly at higher altitudes, the aircraft must be pressurized. It is important for pilots who fly these aircraft to be familiar with the basic operating principles.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Airplane brakes are located on the main wheels and are applied by either a hand control or by foot pedals (toe or heel). Foot pedals operate independently and allow for differential braking. During ground operations, differential braking can supplement nosewheel/tailwheel steering.

Fixed and Retractable Landing Gear

Landing gear can also be classified as either fixed or retractable. A fixed gear always remains extended and has the advantage of simplicity combined with low maintenance. A retractable gear is designed to streamline the airplane by allowing the landing gear to be stowed inside the structure during cruising flight. [Figure 6-39]

Tailwheel Landing Gear Airplanes

Tailwheel landing gear aircraft have two main wheels attached to the airframe ahead of its CG that support most of the weight of the structure. A tailwheel at the very back of the fuselage provides a third point of support. This arrangement allows adequate ground clearance for a larger propeller and is more desirable for operations on unimproved fields. [Figure 6-38]
With the CG located behind the main gear, directional control of this type aircraft becomes more difficult while on the ground. This is the main disadvantage of the tailwheel landing gear. For example, if the pilot allows the aircraft to swerve while rolling on the ground at a low speed, he or she may not have sufficient rudder control and the CG will attempt to get ahead of the main gear which may cause the airplane to ground loop.
Lack of good forward visibility when the tailwheel is on or near the ground is a second disadvantage of tailwheel landing gear aircraft. These inherent problems mean specific training is required in tailwheel aircraft.

Tricycle Landing Gear Airplanes

A tricycle gear airplane has three advantages:
  1. It allows more forceful application of the brakes during landings at high speeds without causing the aircraft to nose over.
  2. It permits better forward visibility for the pilot during takeoff, landing, and taxiing.
  3. It tends to prevent ground looping (swerving) by providing more directional stability during ground operation since the aircraft’s center of gravity (CG) is forward of the main wheels. The forward CG keeps the airplane moving forward in a straight line rather than ground looping.
Nosewheels are either steerable or castering. Steerable nosewheels are linked to the rudders by cables or rods, while castering nosewheels are free to swivel. In both cases, the aircraft is steered using the rudder pedals. Aircraft with a castering nosewheel may require the pilot to combine the use of the rudder pedals with independent use of the brakes.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aircraft Landing Gear

The landing gear forms the principal support of an aircraft on the surface. The most common type of landing gear consists of wheels, but aircraft can also be equipped with floats for water operations or skis for landing on snow. [Figure 6-37]

The landing gear on small aircraft consists of three wheels: two main wheels (one located on each side of the fuselage) and a third wheel positioned either at the front or rear of the airplane. Landing gear employing a rear-mounted wheel is called conventional landing gear. Airplanes with conventional landing gear are often referred to as tailwheel airplanes. When the third wheel is located on the nose, it is called a nosewheel, and the design is referred to as a tricycle gear. A steerable nosewheel or tailwheel permits the airplane to be controlled throughout all operations while on the ground.

Hydraulic Systems

There are multiple applications for hydraulic use in aircraft, depending on the complexity of the aircraft. For example, hydraulics is often used on small airplanes to operate wheel brakes, retractable landing gear, and some constant-speed propellers. On large airplanes, hydraulics is used for flight control surfaces, wing flaps, spoilers, and other systems.
A basic hydraulic system consists of a reservoir, pump (either hand, electric, or engine driven), a filter to keep the fluid clean, selector valve to control the direction of flow, relief valve to relieve excess pressure, and an actuator. [Figure 6-36]
The hydraulic fluid is pumped through the system to an actuator or servo. A servo is a cylinder with a piston inside that turns fluid power into work and creates the power needed to move an aircraft system or flight control. Servos can be either single-acting or double-acting, based on the needs of the system. This means that the fluid can be applied to one or both sides of the servo, depending on the servo type. A single-acting servo provides power in one direction. The selector valve allows the fluid direction to be controlled. This is necessary for operations such as the extension and retraction of landing gear during which the fluid must work in two different directions. The relief valve provides an outlet for the system in the event of excessive fluid pressure in the system. Each system incorporates different components to meet the individual needs of different aircraft.
A mineral-based hydraulic fluid is the most widely used type for small aircraft. This type of hydraulic fluid, a kerosene-like petroleum product, has good lubricating properties, as well as additives to inhibit foaming and prevent the formation of corrosion. It is chemically stable, has very little viscosity change with temperature, and is dyed for identification. Since several types of hydraulic fluids are commonly used, an aircraft must be serviced with the type specified by the manufacturer. Refer to the AFM/POH or the Maintenance Manual.

Electrical System

Most aircraft are equipped with either a 14- or a 28-volt direct current electrical system. A basic aircraft electrical system consists of the following components:
  • Alternator/generator
  • Battery
  • Master/battery switch
  • Alternator/generator switch
  • Bus bar, fuses, and circuit breakers
  • Voltage regulator
  • Ammeter/loadmeter
  • Associated electrical wiring

Refueling Procedures

Static electricity is formed by the friction of air passing over the surfaces of an aircraft in flight and by the flow of fuel through the hose and nozzle during refueling. Nylon, Dacron, or wool clothing is especially prone to accumulate and discharge static electricity from the person to the funnel or nozzle. To guard against the possibility of static electricity igniting fuel fumes, a ground wire should be attached to the aircraft before the fuel cap is removed from the tank. Because both the aircraft and refueler have different static charges, bonding both components to each other is critical. By bonding both components to each other, the static differential charge is equalized. The refueling nozzle should be bonded to the aircraft before refueling begins and should remain bonded throughout the refueling process. When a fuel truck is used, it should be grounded prior to the fuel nozzle contacting the aircraft.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fuel Contamination

Accidents attributed to powerplant failure from fuel contamination have often been traced to:
  • Inadequate preflight inspection by the pilot.
  • Servicing aircraft with improperly filtered fuel from small tanks or drums.
  • Storing aircraft with partially filled fuel tanks.
  • Lack of proper maintenance.

Fuel Grades: Aviation Gasoline (AVGAS)

Aviation gasoline (AVGAS) is identified by an octane or performance number (grade), which designates the antiknock value or knock resistance of the fuel mixture in the engine cylinder. The higher the grade of gasoline, the more pressure the fuel can withstand without detonating. Lower grades of fuel are used in lower-compression engines because these fuels ignite at a lower temperature. Higher grades are used in higher-compression engines, because they ignite at higher temperatures, but not prematurely. If the proper grade of fuel is not available, use the next higher grade as a substitute. Never use a grade lower than recommended. This can cause the cylinder head temperature and engine oil temperature to exceed their normal operating ranges, which may result in detonation.

Fuel Strainers, Sumps, and Drains

After leaving the fuel tank and before it enters the carburetor, the fuel passes through a strainer which removes any moisture and other sediments in the system. Since these contaminants are heavier than aviation fuel, they settle in a sump at the bottom of the strainer assembly. A sump is a low point in a fuel system and/or fuel tank. The fuel system may contain sump, fuel strainer, and fuel tank drains, which may be collocated.
The fuel strainer should be drained before each flight. Fuel samples should be drained and checked visually for water and contaminants.
Water in the sump is hazardous because in cold weather the water can freeze and block fuel lines. In warm weather, it can flow into the carburetor and stop the engine. If water is present in the sump, more water in the fuel tanks is probable and they should be drained until there is no evidence of water. Never take off until all water and contaminants have been removed from the engine fuel system.
Because of the variation in fuel systems, become thoroughly familiar with the systems that apply to the aircraft being flown. Consult the AFM/POH for specific operating procedures.

Fuel Selectors

The fuel selector valve allows selection of fuel from various tanks. A common type of selector valve contains four positions: LEFT, RIGHT, BOTH, and OFF. Selecting the LEFT or RIGHT position allows fuel to feed only from that tank, while selecting the BOTH position feeds fuel from both tanks. The LEFT or RIGHT position may be used to balance the amount of fuel remaining in each wing tank. [Figure 6-31]
Fuel placards will show any limitations on fuel tank usage, such as “level flight only” and/or “both” for landings and takeoffs.
Regardless of the type of fuel selector in use, fuel consumption should be monitored closely to ensure that a tank does not run completely out of fuel. Running a fuel tank dry will not only cause the engine to stop, but running for prolonged periods on one tank causes an unbalanced fuel load between tanks. Running a tank completely dry may allow air to enter the fuel system and cause vapor lock, which makes it difficult to restart the engine. On fuel-injected engines, the fuel becomes so hot it vaporizes in the fuel line, not allowing fuel to reach the cylinders.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fuel Gauges

The fuel quantity gauges indicate the amount of fuel measured by a sensing unit in each fuel tank and is displayed in gallons or pounds. Aircraft certification rules require accuracy in fuel gauges only when they read “empty.” Any reading other than “empty” should be verified. Do not depend solely on the accuracy of the fuel quantity gauges. Always visually check the fuel level in each tank during the preflight inspection, and then compare it with the corresponding fuel quantity indication.
If a fuel pump is installed in the fuel system, a fuel pressure gauge is also included. This gauge indicates the pressure in the fuel lines. The normal operating pressure can be found in the AFM/POH or on the gauge by color coding.

Fuel Tanks

The fuel tanks, normally located inside the wings of an airplane, have a filler opening on top of the wing through which they can be filled. A filler cap covers this opening. The tanks are vented to the outside to maintain atmospheric pressure inside the tank. They may be vented through the filler cap or through a tube extending through the surface of the wing. Fuel tanks also include an overflow drain that may stand alone or be collocated with the fuel tank vent. This allows fuel to expand with increases in temperature without damage to the tank itself. If the tanks have been filled on a hot day, it is not unusual to see fuel coming from the overflow drain.

Fuel Primer

Both gravity-feed and fuel-pump systems may incorporate a fuel primer into the system. The fuel primer is used to draw fuel from the tanks to vaporize fuel directly into the cylinders prior to starting the engine. During cold weather, when engines are difficult to start, the fuel primer helps because there is not enough heat available to vaporize the fuel in the carburetor. It is important to lock the primer in place when it is not in use. If the knob is free to move, it may vibrate out during flight and can cause an excessively rich mixture. To avoid overpriming, read the priming instructions for the aircraft.

Fuel-Pump System

Aircraft with fuel-pump systems have two fuel pumps. The main pump system is engine driven with an electrically driven auxiliary pump provided for use in engine starting and in the event the engine pump fails. The auxiliary pump, also known as a boost pump, provides added reliability to the fuel system. The electrically driven auxiliary pump is controlled by a switch in the flight deck.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gravity-Feed System

The gravity-feed system utilizes the force of gravity to transfer the fuel from the tanks to the engine. For example, on high-wing airplanes, the fuel tanks are installed in the wings. This places the fuel tanks above the carburetor, and the fuel is gravity fed through the system and into the carburetor. If the design of the aircraft is such that gravity cannot be used to transfer fuel, fuel pumps are installed. For example, on low-wing airplanes, the fuel tanks in the wings are located below the carburetor. [Figure 6-30]

Fuel Systems

The fuel system is designed to provide an uninterrupted flow of clean fuel from the fuel tanks to the engine. The fuel must be available to the engine under all conditions of engine power, altitude, attitude, and during all approved flight maneuvers. Two common classifications apply to fuel systems in small aircraft: gravity-feed and fuel-pump systems.

Airframe Systems

Fuel, electrical, hydraulic, and oxygen systems make up the airframe systems.

Performance Comparison

It is possible to compare the performance of a reciprocating powerplant and different types of turbine engines. For the comparison to be accurate, thrust horsepower (usable horsepower) for the reciprocating powerplant must be used rather than brake horsepower, and net thrust must be used for the turbine-powered engines. In addition, aircraft design configuration and size must be approximately the same. When comparing performance, the following definitions are useful:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


A flameout occurs in the operation of a gas turbine engine in which the fire in the engine unintentionally goes out. If the rich limit of the fuel/air ratio is exceeded in the combustion chamber, the flame will blow out. This condition is often referred to as a rich flameout. It generally results from very fast engine acceleration, in which an overly rich mixture causes the fuel temperature to drop below the combustion temperature. It may also be caused by insufficient airflow to support combustion.

Compressor Stalls and Compressor Blades

Compressor blades are small airfoils and are subject to the same aerodynamic principles that apply to any airfoil. A compressor blade has an angle of attack which is a result of inlet air velocity and the compressor’s rotational velocity. These two forces combine to form a vector, which defines the airfoil’s actual angle of attack to the approaching inlet air.
A compressor stall is an imbalance between the two vector quantities, inlet velocity and compressor rotational speed. Compressor stalls occur when the compressor blades’ angle of attack exceeds the critical angle of attack. At this point, smooth airflow is interrupted and turbulence is created with pressure fluctuations. Compressor stalls cause air flowing in the compressor to slow down and stagnate, sometimes reversing direction. [Figure 6-28]

Turbine Engine Hot or Hung Start

When the EGT exceeds the safe limit of an aircraft, it experiences a “hot start.” It is caused by too much fuel entering the combustion chamber, or insufficient turbine rpm. Any time an engine has a hot start, refer to the AFM/ POH or an appropriate maintenance manual for inspection requirements.
If the engine fails to accelerate to the proper speed after ignition or does not accelerate to idle rpm, a hung or false start has occurred. A hung start may be caused by an insufficient starting power source or fuel control malfunction.

Foreign Object Damage (FOD)

Due to the design and function of a turbine engine’s air inlet, the possibility of ingestion of debris always exists. This causes significant damage, particularly to the compressor and turbine sections. When ingestion of debris occurs, it is called foreign object damage (FOD). Typical FOD consists of small nicks and dents caused by ingestion of small objects from the ramp, taxiway, or runway, but FOD damage caused by bird strikes or ice ingestion also occur. Sometimes FOD results in total destruction of an engine.
Prevention of FOD is a high priority. Some engine inlets have a tendency to form a vortex between the ground and the inlet during ground operations. A vortex dissipater may be installed on these engines. Other devices, such as screens and/or deflectors, may also be utilized. Preflight procedures include a visual inspection for any sign of FOD.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thrust Variations

Turbine engine thrust varies directly with air density. As air density decreases, so does thrust. Additionally, because air density decreases with an increase in temperature, increased temperatures will also result in decreased thrust. While both turbine and reciprocating powered engines are affected to some degree by high relative humidity, turbine engines will experience a negligible loss of thrust, while reciprocating engines a significant loss of brake horsepower.

Engine Temperature Limitations

The highest temperature in any turbine engine occurs at the turbine inlet. Turbine inlet temperature is therefore usually the limiting factor in turbine engine operation.

Turbine Engine Operational Considerations

The great variety of turbine engines makes it impractical to cover specific operational procedures, but there are certain operational considerations common to all turbine engines. They are engine temperature limits, foreign object damage, hot start, compressor stall, and flameout.

N2 Indicator

N2 represents the rotational speed of the high pressure compressor and is presented on the indicator as a percentage of design rpm. The high pressure compressor is governed by the N2 turbine wheel. The N2 turbine wheel is connected to the high pressure compressor through a concentric shaft. [Figure 6-27]

Monday, December 14, 2009

N1 Indicator

N1 represents the rotational speed of the low pressure compressor and is presented on the indicator as a percentage of design rpm. After start the speed of the low pressure compressor is governed by the N1 turbine wheel. The N1 turbine wheel is connected to the low pressure compressor through a concentric shaft.


Turboprop/turboshaft engine power output is measured by the torquemeter. Torque is a twisting force applied to a shaft. The torquemeter measures power applied to the shaft. Turboprop and turboshaft engines are designed to produce torque for driving a propeller. Torquemeters are calibrated in percentage units, foot-pounds, or psi.

Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT)

A limiting factor in a gas turbine engine is the temperature of the turbine section. The temperature of a turbine section must be monitored closely to prevent overheating the turbine blades and other exhaust section components. One common way of monitoring the temperature of a turbine section is with an EGT gauge. EGT is an engine operating limit used to monitor overall engine operating conditions.
Variations of EGT systems bear different names based on the location of the temperature sensors. Common turbine temperature sensing gauges include the turbine inlet temperature (TIT) gauge, turbine outlet temperature (TOT) gauge, inter-stage turbine temperature (ITT) gauge, and turbine gas temperature (TGT) gauge.

Engine Pressure Ratio (EPR)

An engine pressure ratio (EPR) gauge is used to indicate the power output of a turbojet/turbofan engine. EPR is the ratio of turbine discharge to compressor inlet pressure. Pressure measurements are recorded by probes installed in the engine inlet and at the exhaust. Once collected, the data is sent to a differential pressure transducer, which is indicated on a flight deck EPR gauge.
EPR system design automatically compensates for the effects of airspeed and altitude. Changes in ambient temperature require a correction be applied to EPR indications to provide accurate engine power settings.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Turbine Engine Instruments

Engine instruments that indicate oil pressure, oil temperature, engine speed, exhaust gas temperature, and fuel flow are common to both turbine and reciprocating engines. However, there are some instruments that are unique to turbine engines. These instruments provide indications of engine pressure ratio, turbine discharge pressure, and torque. In addition, most gas turbine engines have multiple temperature-sensing instruments, called thermocouples, which provide pilots with temperature readings in and around the turbine section.


The fourth common type of jet engine is the turboshaft. [Figure 6-26] It delivers power to a shaft that drives something other than a propeller. The biggest difference between a turbojet and turboshaft engine is that on a turboshaft engine, most of the energy produced by the expanding gases is used to drive a turbine rather than produce thrust. Many helicopters use a turboshaft gas turbine engine. In addition, turboshaft engines are widely used as auxiliary power units on large aircraft.


Turbofans were developed to combine some of the best features of the turbojet and the turboprop. Turbofan engines are designed to create additional thrust by diverting a secondary airflow around the combustion chamber. The turbofan bypass air generates increased thrust, cools the engine, and aids in exhaust noise suppression. This provides turbojet-type cruise speed and lower fuel consumption.
The inlet air that passes through a turbofan engine is usually divided into two separate streams of air. One stream passes through the engine core, while a second stream bypasses the engine core. It is this bypass stream of air that is responsible for the term “bypass engine.” A turbofan’s bypass ratio refers to the ratio of the mass airflow that passes through the fan divided by the mass airflow that passes through the engine core. [Figure 6-25]


A turboprop engine is a turbine engine that drives a propeller through a reduction gear. The exhaust gases drive a power turbine connected by a shaft that drives the reduction gear assembly. Reduction gearing is necessary in turboprop engines because optimum propeller performance is achieved at much slower speeds than the engine’s operating rpm. Turboprop engines are a compromise between turbojet engines and reciprocating powerplants. Turboprop engines are most efficient at speeds between 250 and 400 mph and altitudes between 18,000 and 30,000 feet. They also perform well at the slow airspeeds required for takeoff and landing, and are fuel efficient. The minimum specific fuel consumption of the turboprop engine is normally available in the altitude range of 25,000 feet to the tropopause. [Figure 6-24]

Saturday, December 12, 2009


The turbojet engine consists of four sections: compressor, combustion chamber, turbine section, and exhaust. The compressor section passes inlet air at a high rate of speed to the combustion chamber. The combustion chamber contains the fuel inlet and igniter for combustion. The expanding air drives a turbine, which is connected by a shaft to the compressor, sustaining engine operation. The accelerated exhaust gases from the engine provide thrust. This is a basic application of compressing air, igniting the fuel-air mixture, producing power to self-sustain the engine operation, and exhaust for propulsion. [Figure 6-23]
Turbojet engines are limited in range and endurance. They are also slow to respond to throttle applications at slow compressor speeds.

Types of Turbine Engines

Turbine engines are classified according to the type of compressors they use. There are three types of compressors— centrifugal flow, axial flow, and centrifugal-axial flow. Compression of inlet air is achieved in a centrifugal flow engine by accelerating air outward perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the machine. The axial-flow engine compresses air by a series of rotating and stationary airfoils moving the air parallel to the longitudinal axis. The centrifugal-axial flow design uses both kinds of compressors to achieve the desired compression.
The path the air takes through the engine and how power is produced determines the type of engine. There are four types of aircraft turbine engines—turbojet, turboprop, turbofan, and turboshaft.

Aircraft Turbine Engines

An aircraft turbine engine consists of an air inlet, compressor, combustion chambers, a turbine section, and exhaust. Thrust is produced by increasing the velocity of the air flowing through the engine. Turbine engines are highly desirable aircraft powerplants. They are characterized by smooth operation and a high power-to-weight ratio, and they use readily available jet fuel. Prior to recent advances in material, engine design, and manufacturing processes, the use of turbine engines in small/light production aircraft was cost prohibitive. Today, several aviation manufacturers are producing or plan to produce small/light turbine-powered aircraft. These smaller turbine-powered aircraft typically seat between three and seven passengers and are referred to as very light jets (VLJs) or microjets. [Figure 6-22]

Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC)

FADEC is a system consisting of a digital computer and ancillary components that control an aircraft’s engine and propeller. First used in turbine-powered aircraft, and referred to as full authority digital electronic control, these sophisticated control systems are increasingly being used in piston powered aircraft.
In a spark ignition reciprocating engine the FADEC uses speed, temperature, and pressure sensors to monitor the status of each cylinder. A digital computer calculates the ideal pulse for each injector and adjusts ignition timing as necessary to achieve optimal performance. In a compression ignition engine the FADEC operates similarly and performs all of the same functions, excluding those specifically related to the spark ignition process.

Friday, December 11, 2009


During normal combustion, the fuel/air mixture burns in a very controlled and predictable manner. In a spark ignition engine the process occurs in a fraction of a second. The mixture actually begins to burn at the point where it is ignited by the spark plugs, then burns away from the plugs until it is all consumed. This type of combustion causes a smooth build-up of temperature and pressure and ensures that the expanding gases deliver the maximum force to the piston at exactly the right time in the power stroke. [Figure 6-21]
Detonation is an uncontrolled, explosive ignition of the fuel/air mixture within the cylinder’s combustion chamber. It causes excessive temperatures and pressures which, if not corrected, can quickly lead to failure of the piston, cylinder, or valves. In less severe cases, detonation causes engine overheating, roughness, or loss of power.

Aircraft Starting System

Most small aircraft use a direct-cranking electric starter system. This system consists of a source of electricity, wiring, switches, and solenoids to operate the starter and a starter motor. Most aircraft have starters that automatically engage and disengage when operated, but some older aircraft have starters that are mechanically engaged by a lever actuated by the pilot. The starter engages the aircraft flywheel, rotating the engine at a speed that allows the engine to start and maintain operation.

Engine Exhaust Systems

Engine exhaust systems vent the burned combustion gases overboard, provide heat for the cabin, and defrost the windscreen. An exhaust system has exhaust piping attached to the cylinders, as well as a muffler and a muffler shroud. The exhaust gases are pushed out of the cylinder through the exhaust valve and then through the exhaust pipe system to the atmosphere.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Engine Cooling Systems

The burning fuel within the cylinders produces intense heat, most of which is expelled through the exhaust system. Much of the remaining heat, however, must be removed, or at least dissipated, to prevent the engine from overheating. Otherwise, the extremely high engine temperatures can lead to loss of power, excessive oil consumption, detonation, and serious engine damage.

The Engine Oil System

The engine oil system performs several important functions:
  • Lubrication of the engine’s moving parts
  • Cooling of the engine by reducing friction
  • Removing heat from the cylinders
  • Providing a seal between the cylinder walls and pistons
  • Carrying away contaminants

Ignition System: Spark Ignition Engine

In a spark ignition engine the ignition system provides a spark that ignites the fuel/air mixture in the cylinders and is made up of magnetos, spark plugs, high-tension leads, and the ignition switch. [Figure 6-16]
A magneto uses a permanent magnet to generate an electrical current completely independent of the aircraft’s electrical system. The magneto generates sufficiently high voltage to jump a spark across the spark plug gap in each cylinder. The system begins to fire when the starter is engaged and the crankshaft begins to turn. It continues to operate whenever the crankshaft is rotating.

High Altitude Performance

As an aircraft equipped with a turbocharging system climbs, the waste gate is gradually closed to maintain the maximum allowable manifold pressure. At some point, the waste gate will be fully closed and further increases in altitude will cause the manifold pressure to decrease. This is the critical altitude, which is established by the aircraft or engine manufacturer. When evaluating the performance of the turbocharging system, be aware that if the manifold pressure begins decreasing before the specified critical altitude, the engine and turbocharging system should be inspected by a qualified aviation maintenance technician to verify the system’s proper operation.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turbocharged Engines System Operation

On most modern turbocharged engines, the position of the waste gate is governed by a pressure-sensing control mechanism coupled to an actuator. Engine oil directed into or away from this actuator moves the waste gate position. On these systems, the actuator is automatically positioned to produce the desired MAP simply by changing the position of the throttle control.

Turbosuperchargers: Increasing Horsepower Method

The most efficient method of increasing horsepower in an engine is by use of a turbosupercharger or turbocharger. Installed on an engine, this booster uses the engine’s exhaust gases to drive an air compressor to increase the pressure of the air going into the engine through the carburetor or fuel injection system to boost power at higher altitude.

Superchargers: An Engine-Driven Air Pump

A supercharger is an engine-driven air pump or compressor that provides compressed air to the engine to provide additional pressure to the induction air so the engine can produce additional power. It increases manifold pressure and forces the fuel/air mixture into the cylinders. The higher the manifold pressure, the more dense the fuel/air mixture, and the more power an engine can produce. With a normally aspirated engine, it is not possible to have manifold pressure higher than the existing atmospheric pressure. A supercharger is capable of boosting manifold pressure above 30 "Hg.

Superchargers and Turbosuperchargers

To increase an engine’s horsepower, manufacturers have developed forced induction systems called supercharger and turbosupercharger systems. They both compress the intake air to increase its density. The key difference lies in the power supply. A supercharger relies on an engine-driven air pump or compressor, while a turbocharger gets its power from the exhaust stream that runs through a turbine, which in turn spins the compressor. Aircraft with these systems have a manifold pressure gauge, which displays MAP within the engine’s intake manifold.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fuel Injection Systems Basic Components

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.

Outside Air Temperature Gauge OAT

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 also is useful in detecting potential icing conditions.

Carburetor Heat: An Anti-Icing System

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 the freezing temperature 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, the use of carburetor heat as an alternate air source can be used 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.

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. [Figure 6-11]

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fuel Air Mixture Control

Carburetors are normally calibrated at sea-level pressure, where the correct fuel-to-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, which 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 pretakeoff runup 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.

Aircraft Engines Carburetor Systems

Carburetors are classified as either float type or pressure type. The float type of carburetor, complete with idling, accelerating, mixture control, idle cutoff, and power enrichment systems is probably the most common of all carburetor types. Pressure 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.

Aircraft Engines 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.

Adjustable-Pitch Propeller Forerunner

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.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fixed-Pitch Propeller Fixed Blade Angles

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.

Propeller: Rotating Airfoil

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 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. [Figure 6-6]

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 which 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.

Aircraft Engine 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.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Autopilot: Automatic Flight Control System

Autopilot is an automatic flight control system that keeps an aircraft in level flight or on a set course. It can be directed by the pilot, or it may be coupled to a radio navigation signal. Autopilot reduces the physical and mental demands on a pilot and increases safety. The common features available on an autopilot are altitude and heading hold.

Adjustable Stabilizer

Rather than using a movable tab on the trailing edge of the elevator, some aircraft have an adjustable stabilizer. With this arrangement, linkages pivot the horizontal stabilizer about its rear spar. This is accomplished by use of a jackscrew mounted on the leading edge of the stabilator. [Figure 5-23]

On small aircraft, the jackscrew is cable operated with a trim wheel or crank. On larger aircraft, it is motor driven. The trimming effect and flight deck indications for an adjustable stabilizer are similar to those of a trim tab.

Aircraft Ground Adjustable Tabs

Many small aircraft have a non-movable metal trim tab on the rudder. This tab is bent in one direction or the other while on the ground to apply a trim force to the rudder. The correct displacement is determined by trial and error. Usually, small adjustments are necessary until the aircraft no longer skids left or right during normal cruising flight. [Figure 5-22]

Aircraft Antiservo Tabs

Antiservo tabs work in the same manner as balance tabs except, instead of moving in the opposite direction, they move in the same direction as the trailing edge of the stabilator. In addition to decreasing the sensitivity of the stabilator, an antiservo tab also functions as a trim device to relieve control pressure and maintain the stabilator in the desired position. The fixed end of the linkage is on the opposite side of the surface from the horn on the tab; when the trailing edge of the stabilator moves up, the linkage forces the trailing edge of the tab up. When the stabilator moves down, the tab also moves down. Conversely, trim tabs on elevators move opposite of the control surface. [Figure 5-21]

Friday, December 4, 2009

Aircraft Balance Tabs

The control forces may be excessively high in some aircraft, and, in order to decrease them, the manufacturer may use balance tabs. They look like trim tabs and are hinged in approximately the same places as trim tabs. The essential difference between the two is that the balancing tab is coupled to the control surface rod so that when the primary control surface is moved in any direction, the tab automatically moves in the opposite direction. The airflow striking the tab counterbalances some of the air pressure against the primary control surface, and enables the pilot to move more easily and hold the control surface in position.

If the linkage between the balance tab and the fixed surface is adjustable from the flight deck, the tab acts as a combination trim and balance tab that can be adjusted to any desired deflection.

Aircraft Trim Tabs

The most common installation on small aircraft is a single trim tab attached to the trailing edge of the elevator. Most trim tabs are manually operated by a small, vertically mounted control wheel. However, a trim crank may be found in some aircraft. The flight deck control includes a trim tab position indicator. Placing the trim control in the full nose-down position moves the trim tab to its full up position. With the trim tab up and into the airstreams, the airflow over the horizontal tail surface tends to force the trailing edge of the elevator down. This causes the tail of the airplane to move up, and the nose to move down. [Figure 5-20]

Trim Systems

Although an aircraft can be operated throughout a wide range of attitudes, airspeeds, and power settings, it can be designed to fly hands-off within only a very limited combination of these variables. Trim systems are used to relieve the pilot of the need to maintain constant pressure on the flight controls, and usually consist of flight deck controls and small hinged devices attached to the trailing edge of one or more of the primary flight control surfaces. Designed to help minimize a pilot’s workload, trim systems aerodynamically assist movement and position of the flight control surface to which they are attached. Common types of trim systems include trim tabs, balance tabs, antiservo tabs, ground adjustable tabs, and an adjustable stabilizer.

Spoilers Reduce Lift

Found on many gliders and some aircraft, high drag devices called spoilers are deployed from the wings to spoil the smooth airflow, reducing lift and increasing drag. On gliders, spoilers are most often used to control rate of descent for accurate landings. On other aircraft, spoilers are often used for roll control, an advantage of which is the elimination of adverse yaw. To turn right, for example, the spoiler on the right wing is raised, destroying some of the lift and creating more drag on the right. The right wing drops, and the aircraft banks and yaws to the right. Deploying spoilers on both wings at the same time allows the aircraft to descend without gaining speed. Spoilers are also deployed to help reduce ground roll after landing. By destroying lift, they transfer weight to the wheels, improving braking effectiveness. [Figure 5-19]

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Leading Edge Devices

High-lift devices also can be applied to the leading edge of the airfoil. The most common types are fixed slots, movable slats, leading edge flaps, and cuffs. [Figure 5-18]

Secondary Flight Controls - Flaps

Secondary Flight Controls
Secondary flight control systems may consist of wing flaps, leading edge devices, spoilers, and trim systems.

V-Tail Design Dutch Roll

The V-tail design utilizes two slanted tail surfaces to perform the same functions as the surfaces of a conventional elevator and rudder configuration. The fixed surfaces act as both horizontal and vertical stabilizers. [Figure 5-16]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rudder Controls Movement

The rudder controls movement of the aircraft about its vertical axis. This motion is called yaw. Like the other primary control surfaces, the rudder is a movable surface hinged to a fixed surface, in this case to the vertical stabilizer, or fin. Moving the left or right rudder pedal controls the rudder.

Canard Design

The canard design utilizes the concept of two lifting surfaces, the canard functioning as a horizontal stabilizer located in front of the main wings. In effect, the canard is an airfoil similar to the horizontal surface on a conventional aft-tail design. The difference is that the canard actually creates lift and holds the nose up, as opposed to the aft-tail design which exerts downward force on the tail to prevent the nose from rotating downward. [Figure 5-14]

Stabilator Tips

As mentioned in Chapter 2, Aircraft Structure, a stabilator is essentially a one-piece horizontal stabilizer that pivots from a central hinge point. When the control column is pulled back, it raises the stabilator’s trailing edge, pulling the airplane’s nose up. Pushing the control column forward lowers the trailing edge of the stabilator and pitches the nose of the airplane down.

T-tail Configuration

In a T-tail configuration, the elevator is above most of the effects of downwash from the propeller as well as airflow around the fuselage and/or wings during normal flight conditions. Operation of the elevators in this undisturbed air allows control movements that are consistent throughout most flight regimes. T-tail designs have become popular on many light and large aircraft, especially those with aft fuselage-mounted engines because the T-tail configuration removes the tail from the exhaust blast of the engines. Seaplanes and amphibians often have T-tails in order to keep the horizontal surfaces as far from the water as possible. An additional benefit is reduced vibration and noise inside the aircraft.

Elevator Controls Pitch

The elevator controls pitch about the lateral axis. Like the ailerons on small aircraft, the elevator is connected to the control column in the flight deck by a series of mechanical linkages. Aft movement of the control column deflects the trailing edge of the elevator surface up. This is usually referred to as up “elevator.” [Figure 5-10]

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Flaperons combine both aspects of flaps and ailerons. In addition to controlling the bank angle of an aircraft like conventional ailerons, flaperons can be lowered together to function much the same as a dedicated set of flaps. The pilot retains separate controls for ailerons and flaps. A mixer is used to combine the separate pilot inputs into this single set of control surfaces called flaperons. Many designs that incorporate flaperons mount the control surfaces away from the wing to provide undisturbed airflow at high angles of attack and/or low airspeeds. [Figure 5-9]

Coupled Ailerons and Rudder

Coupled ailerons and rudder are linked controls. This is accomplished with rudder-aileron interconnect springs, which help correct for aileron drag by automatically deflecting the rudder at the same time the ailerons are deflected. For example, when the control wheel or control stick is moved to produce a left roll, the interconnect cable and spring pulls forward on the left rudder pedal just enough to prevent the nose of the aircraft from yawing to the right. The force applied to the rudder by the springs can be overridden if it becomes necessary to slip the aircraft. [Figure 5-8]

Frise-Type Ailerons

With a frise-type aileron, when pressure is applied to the control wheel or control stick, the aileron that is being raised pivots on an offset hinge. This projects the leading edge of the aileron into the airflow and creates drag. It helps equalize the drag created by the lowered aileron on the opposite wing and reduces adverse yaw. [Figure 5-7]

The frise-type aileron also forms a slot so air flows smoothly over the lowered aileron, making it more effective at high angles of attack. Frise-type ailerons may also be designed to function differentially. Like the differential aileron, the frise-type aileron does not eliminate adverse yaw entirely. Coordinated rudder application is still needed wherever ailerons are applied.

Differential Ailerons

With differential ailerons, one aileron is raised a greater distance than the other aileron is lowered for a given movement of the control wheel or control stick. This produces an increase in drag on the descending wing. The greater drag results from deflecting the up aileron on the descending wing to a greater angle than the down aileron on the rising wing. While adverse yaw is reduced, it is not eliminated completely. [Figure 5-6]