Hot, Hot Heat: One Simple Way to Save Your Aircraft or Helicopter Engine

To keep your craft in flying condition, you will want to keep a close eye on portions of the engine known as the “hot section”. This term refers to the parts of the engine, such as the compressor and housing, which are exposed to the greatest extremes of temperature, particularly when starting up the engine. Maintaining this section of an aircraft or helicopter starting unit will improve the overall performance and longevity of your engine.

Rigorous Module Inspection

The specific regimen for cleaning and maintaining the hot section will differ from engine to engine. Manufacturers often provide requirements and guidelines for maintenance, or you may wish to consult with an expert mechanic. Professionals not only have years of experience, they will also have proper aircraft maintenance equipment on-hand. Finally, professional mechanics follow strict tool management guidelines to ensure all parts are fully reassembled and all tools have been returned to their housings. If you do not consult with a professional, it is encouraged that you follow recommended tool management guidelines.

Routine Use of Starting Units

Reducing the heat load placed on your hot section during engine start-up can be substantially helped by regularly using a helicopter or airplane starting unit every time you power on the engine. According to many mechanics, an average battery can provide as little as 8-12% compression speed; even an ideally maintained and fully-charged battery can only bring the compressor up to 14-16%. Using a start cart enables you to reliably bring your compressor up to 18-20% speed prior to ignition and fuel injection. Thanks to the higher compression speed, the starting temperature load is lowered and causes significantly less wear and tear on the hot section.

Recommended by Professionals

Although it may seem like a pain at first, using a start cart every time you start up any engine is highly recommended by mechanics with decades of experience, including writers for Helicopter Maintenance Magazine, like Ralph Hawkins, who specialize in aircraft engine inspection and safety. Start carts and starting units can enhance the lifespan of one of the most expensive sections of your engine block and save money, time and energy. Remember to charge your start cart after use, and keep it stored in a safe space. Routine use of a start cart, regular maintenance, and thorough inspection can help you avoid steep costs that can quickly climb into the tens of thousands of dollars.