• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
Helicopter Flight Training Sponsors



How to prepare your aircraft for winter flying

Cessna 172 flying over the snow-covered ground. Photography courtesy of Nicole Lund. Winter flying has its pros and cons. Aircraft perform better in the winter due to the increase in power output from combusting the cold, dense air. However, ice is a by-product of winter and cold temperatures can make starting aircraft difficult. These tips will help prepare you for winter flying. Worried about frost? Take note of the dew pointDew point is the temperature at which the air will become saturated with water vapor. The closer the temperature is to the dew point, the higher the likelihood of accumulating frost when temperatures are below freezing. Frost is hazardous to flight because it adds weight to the aircraft and makes the aircraft stall at a higher-than-normal airspeed. Many general aviation aircraft are not equipped to fly with ice or frost accumulation. Vigilance to the temperature-dew point spread can keep you prepared to delay a flight. It is also smart to put the aircraft in a heated hangar or to spray the aircraft with de-icing fluid if frost accumulation has already occurred. Begin preheating your engineJust like cars struggle to start in the winter, aircraft also have difficulty starting. Heated hangars and propane heaters can keep the aircraft's engine warm and easy to start. Many aircraft have an electric plug that will heat the oil sump. A warm engine and oil will make the aircraft start with ease. This will prevent flooding the engine and reduce the risk of an air filter fire. Make sure you're packed for the elementsIt is crucial for pilots to wear layers to stay warm. Many of the aging general aviation aircraft have mediocre-at-best heaters. Drafty windows can make flights almost unbearable. It is also smart to have layers in case an off-field landing is needed. Survival kits are important to always carry in the aircraft, especially in the winter. The kit should have a fire starter in case a fire is necessary to stay warm while waiting on first responders. Stray away from fast RPM changes Engines experience large temperature changes when going from idle power to full throttle and vice versa. When the outside air temperature is frigid, this temperature change is exacerbated. To prevent cylinders and other parts of the engine from cracking, large adjustments of power should be avoided when flying in below-freezing temperatures. Advancing the throttle during takeoff should be a slow and steady movement. Prolonged periods of idle power should be avoided as well as rapid movements of the throttle. Change your aircraft's oilWinter flying calls for a lower viscosity oil. This helps circulate the oil better, especially when starting a cold engine. Refer to the aircraft's pilot operating handbook for the correct oil weight. The lower viscosity oil assists with circulation and pressure. Avoid using high RPMs for the first few minutes after starting the engine. This gives the oil time to go from the sump to moving parts in the engine. Invest in a carbon monoxide detector In the winter months, heaters are a staple. Many general aviation heaters work by passing outside air through the exhaust shroud. Cracks in the exhaust manifold would cause exhaust gases to enter the cabin when the heater is on. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion and can render the pilot unconscious if exposed. Inspecting the exhaust manifold and shroud is a critical step to take every winter. Equipping your aircraft with a carbon monoxide detector is also smart. The Foreflight Sentry ADS-B receiver is equipped with a detector. Pilots can also purchase an inexpensive carbon monoxide detector from ASA. Diagram of the exhaust shroud. Graphic courtesy of the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. Winter flying is great for aircraft performance. Many pilots enjoy the great climb performance and faster speeds. However, several risks arise during the winter months. These tips will help keep you prepared to take to the skies this winter.
Created 126 days ago
by RSS Feed

Categories HeliNews Headlines