Engine Preheating: An Important Step

When you’re headed to work on a cold winter’s morning and start the car for your daily commute, you may have noticed a blue light on your dashboard. This light denotes that your coolant temperature is low, meaning your car has not yet heated up. While this little blue light is not necessarily cause for concern, it does indicate that your car is not operating at its full potential. Just as your car needs time to heat up, so too does an aircraft. The difference is that performance issues on the ground are much more manageable than in the air, so preheating the aircraft engine is not something to take lightly.

The general consensus among experts is that preheating is recommended anytime the external temperature is near or below freezing. However, this is only a standard guideline and many other factors should be considered. Temperatures below freezing make preheating even more important, and preheating still has many benefits at temperatures above freezing. Research done by Tanis Aircraft Services, Inc. revealed that 20 degrees Fahrenheit is the bare minimum temperature your aircraft engine should be at startup to prevent serious damage. Above 40 degrees will be easier on the battery and reduce startup time and wear and tear. Better still is to keep your engine at about 60 degrees as this will diminish engine stress, cylinder wear, and provide a more efficient start up.

Proper preheating is about much more than just the temperature of the oil. It involves the entire engine, to guarantee that all crucial engine components are at an acceptable temperature. There are two main options for aircraft engine preheating: built-in preheaters and portable preheaters. Built-in preheaters are more commonly found and are typically developed by Tanis Aircraft and Reiff Preheat Systems. A basic preheater consists of a small electric pad bonded to the oil sump. Despite this, in the long run, it will be much more beneficial to invest in a more comprehensive preheating system that includes heaters for other parts of the engine such as the case and cylinders. Both Tanis and Reiff use a variety of heating options including heated intake tube bolts and valve cover bolts.

If a built-in system is not viable, the other option is to purchase portable engine heaters. This is the system in use by most FBOs and flight schools. These systems require a combination of electricity and propane to create a robust flow of heated air into the engine compartment. It enters via the exhaust opening at the bottom of the cowl, or at inlets in the front of the cowl and heats the inner components of the engine. Regardless of the system you employ, the key is to leave enough time for the process to take effect and thoroughly heat your engine.

At Fulfillment 3Sixty, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the engine heating components for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@fulfillment3sixty.com or call us at 1-480-504-1299.



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March 11, 2021

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