January 2010 Issue

Pre-Heating You Engine Increases Flight Reliability

Why ensuring your airplane and its engine are warm before starting this winter will enhance reliability, along with some suggestions on how to do it.

It’s been several years now since I inflicted this on the poor thing, but somewhere out there is a Piper Archer II it once took me and a friend several tries to get started one cold, wintry day outside Washington, D.C. A lineguy came by, aimed a torpedo heater into the engine cooling inlets for a couple of minutes apiece, charged us a bunch of money and left. After a few more tries, we’d managed to frost the plugs, so we decamped to the FBO for hot coffee. Thirty or so minutes later, we tried again and finally got a start. Based on what I know now—I knew very little about engine or aircraft pre-heating back then—none of what we did could have been good for that engine.

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