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killing_your_engine

YOU ARE KILLING YOUR POWERPLANT
By TC FREEMAN

     In many ways, I have the coolest job. As an Aviation Safety Specialist I have the great pleasure of coordinating seminars for some of the best aviation speakers in the business. One such notable speaker is Paul McBride, known to many as the regular columnist of his “Ask Paul” segment in the popular General Aviation News.  In addition to being an all-around good guy, he comes from a long line of aviation professionals. Lycoming engines are his specialty and he has traveled around the world educating pilots and maintenance professionals on how to properly care of this well-respected powerplant. I had the luxury of sitting in several of his presentations during the seminar tour and learned many critical points about Lycoming engines.

     Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to regularly run your aircraft engine. Since pilots only fly a little over four hours a month, this can be more difficult than it sounds. Add in seasonal dips in flying and it is doubly difficult to do right by your powerplant. Paul says that just ground running the aircraft doesn’t count and could actually do more harm than good. The bottom line is that aircraft needs to fly. An aircraft in flight allows oil temperatures to go up sufficiently and burn off any condensation in the engine case and oil.

    Pilots that are not flying their aircraft on a regular basis, or have significant lulls in flying, should “pickle” their engines according to manufacturer’s recommendations. While this might seem a little harsh to some, the nemesis of aircraft engines is rust and should be taken seriously.

     The next piece of sage advice from Paul is to not trust your aircraft’s engine instruments. Truth is the average aircraft is 36 years old and over time engine instruments go out of calibration. Get engine instruments calibrated especially if the motor is being overhauled, rebuilt or new. It would be a real bummer to pay big bucks for a new engine and discover its life was shortened significantly because of erroneous readings. 

     Other significant tid-bits of knowledge are to get regular oil changes that are not only based on aircraft engine time but also considering calendar time as well. Oil that sits dormant can go bad as quickly as aircraft that flies regularly. Don’t forget to clean the oil screen or change the oil filter at oil change. For those with oil filters it is of prime importance to cut the oil filter open with a specialty filter cutter to inspect the internal element for metal and debris. 

     Lastly, pilots should consider oil spectra-analysis for maximum engine life. Paul points out how a long-time air cargo company has used oil analysis to extend their engine life well beyond typical Time Before Overhaul (TBO) times. 

     As a long-time operator of Lycoming engines, it was a great opportunity to learn such great advice from Paul. Putting his suggestions into practice will help all pilots increase the safety of flight through these preventative maintenance practices. 


About the author:

TC Freemanhas been flying since he was a teenager and is now an aviation speaker and author. Being employed as an Aviation Safety Specialist for state government, he has a passion for spreading the thrill of flying just for the fun of it via the website, www.WingsOfun.com.



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