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Engine Starting Systems

A starter is an electromechanical mechanism capable of developing large amounts

of mechanical energy that can be applied to an engine, causing it to rotate. Reciprocating engines need
only to be turned through at a relatively slow speed until the engine starts and turns on its own. Once
the reciprocating engine has fired and started, the starter is disengaged and has no further function until
the next start. In the case of a turbine engine, the starter must turn the engine up to a speed that provides
enough airflow through the engine for fuel to be ignited. Then, the starter must continue to help the
engine accelerate to a self-sustaining speed. Turbine engine starters have a critical role in starting of the
If the starter turns the turbine engine up to a self-sustaining speed, the engine start
process will not be successful. Almost all reciprocating engines use a form of electric motor geared to
the engine. Modern turbine engines use electric motors, starter/generators (electric motor and a
generator in the same housing), and air turbine starters. Air turbine starters are driven by compressed
air through a turbine wheel that is mechanically connected through reduction gears to one of the
engine’s compressors, generally the highest pressure compressor.
Reciprocating Engine Starting Systems
In the early stages of aircraft development, relatively low powered reciprocating
engines were started by pulling the propeller through a part of a revolution by hand. Difficulty was often
experienced in cold weather starting when lubricating oil temperatures were near the congealing point.
In addition, the magneto systems delivered a weak starting spark at the very low cranking speeds. This
was often compensated for by providing a hot spark using such ignition system devices as the booster
coil, induction vibrator, or impulse coupling.
Some small, low-powered aircraft which use hand cranking of the propeller, or
propping, for starting are still being operated. Most reciprocating engine starters are the direct cranking
electric type. A few older model aircraft are still equipped with inertia starters.
Inertia Starters
There are three general types of inertia starters: hand, electric, and combination hand
and electric. The operation of all types of inertia starters depends on the kinetic energy stored in a
rapidly rotating flywheel for cranking ability. In the inertia starter, energy is stored slowly during an
energizing process by a manual hand crank or electrically with a small motor. During the energizing of
the starter, all movable parts within it, including the flywheel, are set in motion. After the starter has
been fully energized, it is engaged to the crankshaft of the engine by a cable pulled manually or by a
meshing solenoid that is energized electrically.
Direct Cranking Electric Starter
The most widely used starting system on all types of reciprocating engines utilizes
the direct cranking electric starter. This type of starter provides instant and continual cranking when
energized. The direct cranking electric starter consists basically of an electric motor, reduction gears,
and an automatic engaging and disengaging mechanism that is operated through an adjustable torque
overload release clutch.
The main cables leading from the starter to the battery are heavy duty to carry the
high current flow, which may be in a range from as high as 350 amperes to 100 amperes (amps),
depending on the starting torque required.
The typical starter motor is a 12- or 24-volt, series-wound motor that develops
high starting torque. The torque of the motor is transmitted through reduction gears to the overload
release clutch. Typically, this action actuates a helically splined shaft moving the starter jaw outward
to engage the engine cranking jaw before the starter jaw begins to rotate. After the engine reaches a
predetermined speed, the starter automatically disengages.

Direct Cranking Electric Starting System for Large Reciprocating Engines

In a typical high horsepower reciprocating engine starting system, the direct
cranking electric starter consists of two basic components: a motor assembly and a gear section. The
gear section is bolted to the drive end of the motor to form a complete unit.
The motor assembly consists of the armature and motor pinion assembly, the end bell assembly, and
the motor housing assembly. The motor housing also acts as the magnetic yoke for the field structure.
The starter motor is a non-reversible, series interpole motor. Its speed varies directly
with the applied voltage and inversely with the load. The starter gear section consists of an external
housing with an integral mounting flange, planetary gear reduction, a sun and integral gear assembly, a
torque-limiting clutch, and a jaw and cone assembly. When the starter circuit is closed, the torque
developed in the starter motor is transmitted to the starter jaw through the reduction gear train and
clutch. The starter gear train converts the high speed low torque of the motor to the low speed high
torque required to crank the engine. In the gear section, the motor pinion engages the gear on the
intermediate countershaft. The pinion of the countershaft engages the internal gear. The internal gear is
an integral part of the sun gear assembly and is rigidly attached to the sun gear shaft.
The engine selector switch must be positioned and the starter switch and the safety
switch—wired in series—must be closed before the starter can be energized. Current is supplied to the
starter control circuit through a circuit breaker labelled “Starter, Primer, and Induction Vibrator.” When
the engine selector switch is in position for the engine start, closing the starter energizes the starter relay
located in the engine nacelle area. Energizing the starter relay completes the power circuit to the starter
motor. The current necessary for this heavy load is taken directly from the master bus through the starter
bus cable.
All starting systems have operating time limits because of the high energy used during
cranking or rotation of the engine. These limits are referred to as starter limits and must be observed, or
overheating and damage of the starter occurs. After energizing the starter for 1 minute, it should be
allowed to cool for at least 1 minute. After a second or subsequent cranking period of 1 minute, it should
cool for 5 minutes.
Direct Cranking Electric Starting System for Small Aircraft
Most small, reciprocating engine aircraft employ a direct cranking electric starting
system. Some of these systems are automatically engaged starting systems, while others are manually
Manually engaged starting systems used on many older, small aircraft employ a
manually operated overrunning clutch drive pinion to transmit power from an electric starter motor to
a crankshaft starter drive gear.
Gas Turbine Engine Starters
Gas turbine engines are started by rotating the high-pressure compressor. On dual-spool, axial flow
engines, the high pressure compressor and N1 turbine system is only rotated by the starter. To start a
gas turbine engine, it is necessary to accelerate the compressor to provide sufficient air to support
combustion in the combustion section, or burners. Once ignition and fuel has been introduced and the
lite-off has occurred, the starter must continue to assist the engine until the engine reaches a self-
sustaining speed. The torque supplied by the starter must be in excess of the torque required to overcome
compressor inertia and the friction loads of the engine’s compressor.
As soon as the starter has accelerated the compressor sufficiently to establish
airflow through the engine, the ignition is turned on followed by the fuel. The exact sequence of the
starting procedure is important since there must be sufficient airflow through the engine to support
combustion before the fuel-air mixture is ignited. At low engine cranking speeds, the fuel flow rate is
not sufficient to enable the engine to accelerate; for this reason, the starter continues to crank the engine
until after self-accelerating speed has been attained. If assistance from the starter were cut off below the
self-accelerating speed, the engine would either fail to accelerate to idle speed or might even decelerate
because it could not produce sufficient energy to sustain rotation or to accelerate during the initial phase
of the starting cycle. The starter must continue to assist the engine considerably above the self-
accelerating speed to avoid a delay in the starting cycle, which would result in a hot or hung false start
or a combination of both. At the proper points in the sequence, the starter and ignition are automatically
cut off. The basic types of starters that are in current use for gas turbine engines are direct current (DC)
electric motor, starter/ generators, and the air turbine type of starters.
A typical cartridge/pneumatic turbine engine starter may be operated as an
ordinary air turbine starter from a ground operated air supply or an engine cross-bleed source. It may
also be operated as a cartridge starter.
The fuel/air combustion starter was used to start gas turbine engines by using the
combustion energy of jet A fuel and compressed air. The starter consists of a turbine-driven power unit
and auxiliary fuel, air, and ignition systems. Operation of this type starter is, in most installations, fully
automatic; actuation of a single switch causes the starter to fire and accelerate the engine from rest to
starter cut-off speed.
Electric Starting Systems and Starter Generator Starting System
Electric starting systems for gas turbine aircraft are of two general types: direct
cranking electrical systems and starter generator systems. Direct cranking electric starting systems are
used mostly on small turbine engines, such as Auxiliary Power Units (APUs), and some small turboshaft
engines. Many gas turbine aircraft are equipped with starter generator systems. Starter generator starting
systems are also similar to direct cranking electrical systems except that after functioning as a starter,
they contain a second series of windings that allow it to switch to a generator after the engine has
reached a self-sustaining speed. This saves weight and space on the engine.
The starter generator is permanently engaged with the engine shaft through the
necessary drive gears, while the direct cranking starter must employ some means of disengaging the
starter from the shaft after the engine has started. The starter generator unit is basically a shunt generator
with an additional heavy series winding. This series winding is electrically connected to produce a
strong field and a resulting high torque for starting. Starter generator units are desirable from an
economical standpoint, since one unit performs the functions of both starter and generator. Additionally,
the total weight of starting system components is reduced and fewer spare parts are required.
To start an engine equipped with an undercurrent relay, it is first necessary to
close the engine master switch. This completes the circuit from the aircraft’s bus to the start switch, to
the fuel valves, and to the throttle relay. Energizing the throttle relay starts the fuel pumps, and
completing the fuel valve circuit gives the necessary fuel pressure for starting the engine. As the battery
and start switch is turned on, three relays close: the motor relay, ignition relay, and battery cutout relay.
The motor relay closes the circuit from the power source to the starter motor; the ignition relay closes
the circuit to the ignition units; the battery cutout relay disconnects the battery. Opening the battery
circuit is necessary because the heavy drain of the starter motor would damage the battery. Closing the
motor relay allows a very high current to flow to the motor. Since this current flows through the coil of
the undercurrent relay, it closes. Closing the undercurrent relay completes a circuit from the positive
bus to the motor relay coil, ignition relay coil, and battery cutout relay coil. The start switch is allowed
to return to its normal off position, and all units continue to operate.
As the motor builds up speed, the current draw of the motor begins to decrease.
As it decreases to less than 200 amps, the undercurrent relay opens. This action breaks the circuit from
the positive bus to the coils of the motor, ignition, and battery cutout relays. The de-energizing of these
relay coils halts the start operation.
After these procedures are completed, the engine should be operating efficiently
and ignition should be self-sustaining. If, however, the engine fails to reach sufficient speed to halt the
starter operation, the stop switch may be used to break the circuit from the positive bus to the main
contacts of the undercurrent relay.
Air Turbine Starters
Air turbine starters are designed to provide high starting torque from a small,
lightweight source. The typical air turbine starter weighs from one-fourth to one-half as much as an
electric starter capable of starting the same engine. It is capable of developing considerable more torque
than the electric starter.
The typical air turbine starter consists of an axial flow turbine that turns a drive
coupling through a reduction gear train and a starter clutch mechanism. The air to operate an air turbine
starter is supplied from either a ground-operated air cart, the APU, or a cross-bleed start from an engine
already operating. Only one source of around 30–50 pounds per square inch (psi) is used at a time to
start the engines. The pressure in the ducts must be high enough to provide for a complete start with a
normal limit minimum of about 30 psi. When starting engines with an air turbine starter, always check
the duct pressure prior to the start attempt.
The starter is operated by introducing air of sufficient volume and pressure into
the starter inlet. The air passes into the starter turbine housing where it is directed against the rotor
blades by the nozzle vanes causing the turbine rotor to turn. As the rotor turns, it drives the reduction
gear train and clutch arrangement, which includes the rotor pinion, planet gears and carrier, sprag clutch
assembly, output shaft assembly, and drive coupling. The sprag clutch assembly engages automatically
as soon as the rotor starts to turn, but disengages as soon as the drive coupling turns more rapidly than
the rotor side. When the starter reaches this overrun speed, the action of the sprag clutch allows the gear
train to coast to a halt. The output shaft assembly and drive coupling continue to turn as long as the
engine is running. A rotor switch actuator, mounted in the turbine rotor hub, is set to open the turbine
switch when the starter reaches cutout speed. Opening the turbine switch interrupts an electrical signal
to the start valve. This closes the valve and shuts off the air supply to the starter.
Starting systems fall into two categories: those that drive the gas generator directly
and those that drive the gas generator through an intermediate gearbox. Starters may be diesel or gas
engine, steam or gas turbine, electric, hydraulic, or pneumatic (air or gas). The starter satisfies two
independent functions: the first is to rotate the gas generator until it reaches its self-sustaining speed,
and the second is to drive the gas generator compressor to purge the gas generator and the exhaust duct
of any volatile gases prior to initiating the ignition cycle. The starting sequence consists of the
• engage starter
• purge inlet and exhaust ducts
• energize ignitors
• switch fuel on.
The primary function of the starting system is to accelerate the gas generator from
rest to a speed point just beyond the self-sustaining speed of the gas generator (Figure 6-1). To
accomplish this the starter must develop enough torque to overcome the drag torque of the gas
generator’s compressor and turbine, any attached loads including accessories loads, and bearing
resistance. The single shaft gas turbines with directly attached loads (such as electric generators)
represent the highest starting torque as the driven load must also be accelerated from rest to a speed
sufficiently above gas generator self-sustaining speed. Two shaft gas turbines (consisting of the gas
generator and the driven load connected to the free power turbine) represent the lowest starting torque
requirements. In this case only the gas generator is rotated. Another function of the starting systems is
to rotate the gas generator, after shutdown, to hasten cooling. The purge and cool-down functions have
lead to utilization of two-speed starters. The low speed is used for purge and cooling and the high speed
is used to start the unit. When sizing the starter, the designer should keep in mind that the gas generator
must move 3 to 5 times the volume of the exhaust stack to insure purging any residual gas from that
area. Also control system programmers and operators should be aware that the purge time, within the
start cycle, is necessary for safe operation. Gas generators are started by rotating the compressor. This
is accomplished in a number of ways:
• starter directly connected to the compressor shaft
• starter indirectly connected to the compressor shaft via the accessory gearbox
• impingement air directed into the compressor or compressor turbine.
Devices used to start gas generators include electric (alternating current and direct current) motors,
pneumatic motors, hydraulic motors, diesel motors, and small gas turbines.
Electric Motors
Alternating Current
Where alternating current (AC) power is available, three-phase induction type
motors are the preferred choice for starter drivers. In general, the induction motor is directly connected
to the compressor shaft or the starter pad of the accessory gearbox. On some engine models the starter
pad mount is a tight fi t due to the size of an electric motor and the configuration of the accessory
gearbox. Also, as these accessory gearboxes are located under the gas generator, it is a hostile
(temperature) environment for an electric motor. Once the gas generator has reached self-sustaining
speed, the motor is de-energized and mechanically disengaged through a clutch mechanism. In some
applications a clutch mechanism is not included and the motor is simply de-energized. In applications
where the clutch mechanism is not provided, the gas generator must carry the motor load throughout its
operation. This imposes additional wear on the motor.

Direct Current
Where AC power is not available, such as black start applications, direct current (DC)
motors may be used. The source of power for the DC motor is a battery bank of sufficient capacity to
carry the cranking and starting loads of the gas generator. DC starting motors are more commonly used
with small gas turbines and aero-derivative type gas turbines (where stating torque is relatively low).
As in the AC starter motor application, the DC starter motor may be configured with a clutch mechanism
to dis-engage the motor from the gas generator. Another approach is to convert the DC motor
(electrically) into a electric generator to charge the battery system. This is a convenient arrangement
where large battery packs are also used to provide direct power for other systems (controls, motorized
valve operators, etc.). Battery powered DC motor starters are predominately used in small, self-
contained, gas turbines under 500 brake horsepower (BHP). Electric motors require explosion proof
housings and connectors and must be rated for the area classification in which they are installed.

Pneumatics Motors
Pneumatic starter motors may be either impulse-turbine or vane pump type. These
motors utilize air or gas as the driving (motive) force, and are coupled to the turbine accessory drive
gear with an overriding clutch. The overriding clutch mechanism disengages when the drive torque
reverses (that is when the gas turbine self-accelerates faster than the starter) and the air supply is shutoff.
The housing of this type starter must be sufficiently robust to sustain the high gas generator speeds in
the event the mechanism fails to disengage.
Air or gas must be available at approximately 100 psig and in sufficient quantity to
sustain starter operation until the gas generator exceeds self-sustaining speeds. Where a continuous
source of air or gas is not available, banks of high and low pressure receivers and a small positive
displacement compressor can provide sufficient air for a limited number of start attempts. As a rule of
thumb, the starting system should be capable of three successive start attempts before the air supply
system must be recharged. In gas pipeline applications, the pneumatic starter can use pipeline gas as
the source of power. In these applications it is critical that the starter seals are leakproof and the area is
well ventilated.
Hydraulic Motors
Hydraulic pumps often provide the power (motive force) to drive hydraulic motors
or hydraulic impulse turbine (Pelton Wheel) starters. Hydraulic systems are often used with aero
derivative gas turbines as they are easily adaptable to the existing hydraulic systems. Hydraulic systems
offer many advantages such as small size, light weight, and high time between overhaul.
Diesel Motors Due to their large mass moment of inertia, heavy frame (25,000 SHP and above) gas
turbines require high torque, high time starting systems. Since many of these units are single shaft
machines, the starting torque must be sufficient to overcome the mass of the gas turbine and the driven
load. Diesel motors are the starters of choice for these large gas turbines. Since diesel motors cannot
operate at gas turbine speeds, a speed increaser gearbox is necessary to boost diesel motor starter speed
to gas turbine speed. Diesel starters are almost always connected to the compressor shaft. Besides the
speed increaser gearbox, a clutch mechanism must be installed to insure that the diesel motor starter
can be disengaged from the gas turbine. Advantages of the diesel motors are that they are highly reliable
and they can run on the same fuel as the gas turbine, eliminating the need for separate fuel supplies.
Small Gas Turbines
Small gas turbines are used to provide the power to drive either pneumatic or
hydraulic starters. In the aircraft industry a combustion starter, essentially a small gas turbine, is used
to start the gas turbine in remote locations. They are not used in industrial applications.
Impingement Starting
Impingement starting utilizes jets of compressed air piped to the inside of the compressor or
turbine to rotate the gas generator. The pneumatic power source required for impingement starting is
similar to air starters. Regardless of the starter type it must be properly sized to provide sufficient torque
for the purge time and the acceleration time from zero speed to gas generator self-sustaining speed.



The basic components of a fuel system include tanks, lines, valves, pumps, filtering units, gauges,
warning signal, and primer. Some systems will include central refuelling provisions, fuel dump valves,
and a means for transferring fuel. In order to clarify the operating principles of complex aircraft fuel
systems, the various units are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Fuel Tanks

The location, size, shape, and construction of fuel tanks vary with the type and intended use of the
aircraft. In some aircraft, the fuel tanks are integral with the wing or other structural portions of the

Fuel tanks are made of materials that will not react chemically with any aviation fuel. Aluminium alloy
is widely used, and synthetic rubber bladder-type fuel cells are used in some installations.
Usually a sump and a drain are provided at the lowest point in the tank as shown in figure 4-8. When a
sump or low point is provided in the tank, the main fuel supply is not drawn from the bottom of the
sump, but from a higher point in the tank.

The top of each tank is vented to the outside air in order to maintain atmospheric pressure within the
tank. Air vents are designed to minimize the possibility of their stoppage by dirt and ice formation. In
order to permit rapid changes in internal air pressure, the size of the vent is proportional to the size of
the tank, thus preventing the collapse of the tank in a steep dive or glide. All except the very smallest
of tanks are fitted with internal baffles to resist fuel surging caused by changes in the attitude of the
aircraft. Usually an expansion space is provided in fuel tanks to allow for an increase in fuel volume
due to expansion.

The filler neck and cap are usually located in a recessed well, equipped with a scupper and drain. The
scupper is designed to prevent overflowing fuel from entering the wing or fuselage structure. Fuel caps
have provisions for locking devices to prevent accidental loss during flight. Filler openings are clearly
marked with the word "FUEL", the tank capacity, and the type of fuel to be used. Information
concerning the capacity of each tank is usually posted near the fuel selector valves, as well as on the
tank filler caps.

Some fuel tanks are equipped with dump valves that make it possible to jettison fuel during flight in
order to reduce the weight of the aircraft to its specified maximum landing weight. In aircraft equipped
with dump valves, the operating control is located within reach of the pilot, co-pilot, or flight engineer.
Dump valves are designed and installed to afford safe, rapid discharge of fuel.
Fuel Cells

Present day aircraft may be equipped with one or more of the following types of fuel cells: the bladder-
type fuel cell and the integral fuel cell.

Bladder-Type Fuel Cells

The bladder-type fuel cell is a non-self-sealing cell that is used to reduce weight. It depends entirely
upon the structure of the cavity in which it sits to support the weight of the fuel within it. For this reason,
the cell is made slightly larger than the cavity. The bladder cells in use are made either of rubber or of

Integral Fuel Cells

Since integral fuel cells are usually built into the wings of the aircraft structure, they are not removable.
An integral cell is a part of the aircraft structure, which has been so built that after the seams, structural
fasteners, and access doors have been properly sealed, the cell will hold fuel without leaking. This type
of construction is usually referred to as a "wet wing."

Fuel Lines and Fittings

In an aircraft fuel system, the various tanks and other components are usually joined together by fuel
lines made of metal tubing connected, where flexibility is necessary, by lengths of flexible hose. The
metal tubing usually is made of aluminium alloy, and the flexible hose is made of synthetic rubber or
Teflon. The diameter of the tubing is governed by the fuel flow requirements of the engine.

Each fuel line is identified by a colour coded band near each end. Except for short lines between flexible
connections, tubing should be properly supported by clamping to structural members of the aircraft.

A special heat resistant hose is used where the flexible lines will be subjected to intense heat. For all
flexible fuel lines located forward of the firewall, fire resistant hose is used.

In many installations, the fuel lines are designed to be located within the tanks. Therefore, minor leaks
occurring within the tank are classified as internal leaks and will not cause fire hazards.

Fuel Strainers

Strainers are installed in the tank outlets and frequently in the tank filler necks. These are of fairly coarse
mesh and prevent only the larger particles from entering the fuel system. Other, fine mesh, strainers are
provided in the carburetor fuel inlets and in the fuel lines.
The function of the main strainer is important: it not only prevents foreign matter from entering the
carburetor, but also, because of its location at the low point of the fuel system, traps any small amount
of water that may be present in the system. In multiengine aircraft, one main strainer is usually installed
in each engine nacelle.

A main fuel strainer for a light airplane is shown in figure 4-9. It consists of a cast metal top, a screen,
and a glass bowl. The bowl is attached to the cover by a clamp and thumb nut. Fuel enters the unit
through the inlet port, filters through the screen, and exits through the outlet port. At regular intervals
the glass bowl is drained, and the screen is removed for inspection and cleaning.

The main fuel strainer shown in fig is so installed that the fuel flows through it before reaching the
engine driven pump. It is located at the lowest point in the fuel system.

The shape and construction of the fine mesh screen provides a large screening surface encased in a
compact housing. Reinforcing the screen is a coarse, heavy wire mesh.

Auxiliary Fuel Pumps

The electrically driven centrifugal booster pump, shown in figure 4-11, supplies fuel under pressure to
the inlet of the engine driven fuel pump. This type of pump is an essential part of the fuel system,
particularly at high altitudes, to keep the pressure on the suction side of the engine driven pump from
becoming low enough to permit the fuel to boil. This booster pump is also used to transfer fuel from
one tank to another, to supply fuel under pressure for priming when starting the engine, and, as an
emergency unit, to supply fuel to the carburettor in case the engine driven pump fails. To increase the
capacity of the pump under emergency conditions, many pumps are equipped with a two speed or
variable speed control so that the recommended fuel inlet pressure to the carburettor can be maintained.
As a precautionary measure, the booster pump is always turned on during take-offs and landings to
ensure a positive supply of fuel.
The booster pump is mounted at the tank outlet within a detachable sump or is submerged in fuel at the
bottom of the fuel tank. The seals between the impeller and the power section of the pump prevent
leakage of fuel or fumes into the motor. If any liquid or vapour should leak past the seal, it is vented
overboard through a drain. As an added precaution in no submerged-type pumps, air is allowed to
circulate around the motor to remove dangerous fuel vapour.

As fuel enters the pump from the tank, a high speed impeller throws the fuel outward in all directions
at high velocity. The high rotational speed swirls the fuel and produces a centrifuge action that separates
air and vapour from the fuel before it enters the fuel line to the carburettor. This results in practically
vapour free fuel delivery to the carburetor and permits the separated vapours to rise through the fuel
tank and escape through the tank vents. Since a centrifugal-type pump is not a positive displacement
pump, no relief valve is necessary.

Hand Pump

The hand, or wobble, pump is frequently used on light aircraft. It is generally located near other fuel
system components and operated from the cockpit by suitable controls. A diagram of a wobble pump
is shown in fig. When the handle attached to the central blade is operated, the low pressure created on
the chamber below the upward moving blade, permits the incoming fuel pressure to lift the lower flapper
and allows fuel to flow into this chamber. At the same time fuel flows through a drilled passageway to
fill the chamber above the downward moving blade. As the blade moves downward, the lower flapper
closes, preventing fuel from escaping back into the inlet line. The fuel below the downward moving
blade flows through a passageway into another chamber and is discharged through an outlet flapper
valve to the carburetor. The cycle is repeated each time the handle is moved in either direction.

Engine Driven Fuel Pump

The purpose of the engine driven fuel pump is to deliver a continuous supply of fuel at the proper
pressure at all times during engine operation. The pump widely used at the present time is the positive
displacement, rotary vane-type pump.

A schematic diagram of a typical engine driven pump (vane-type) is shown in fig Regardless of
variations in design, the operating principle of all vane-type fuel pumps is the same.
The engine driven pump is usually mounted on the accessory section of the engine. The rotor, with its
sliding vanes, is driven by the crankshaft through the accessory gearing. Note how the vanes carry fuel
from the inlet to the outlet as the rotor turns in the direction indicated. A seal prevents leakage at the
point where the drive shaft enters the pump body, and a drain carries away any fuel that leaks past the
seal. Since the fuel provides enough lubrication for the pump, no special lubrication is necessary.

Since the engine driven fuel pump normally discharges more fuel than the engine requires, there must
be some way of relieving excess fuel to prevent excessive fuel pressures at the fuel inlet of the
carburetor. This is accomplished through the use of a spring loaded relief valve that can be adjusted to
deliver fuel at the recommended pressure for a particular carburetor. Figure, shows the pressure relief
valve in operation, bypassing excess fuel back to the inlet side of the pump. Adjustment is made by
increasing or decreasing the tension of the spring.

The relief valve of the engine driven pump is designed to open at the set pressure regardless of the
pressure of the fuel entering the pump. To maintain the proper relation between fuel pressure and
carburetor inlet air pressure, the chamber above the fuel pump relief valve is vented either to the
atmosphere or through a balance line to carburetor air inlet pressure.

The combined pressures of spring tension and either atmospheric or carburetor inlet air pressure
determine the absolute pressure at which the relief valve opens. This balanced-type relief valve has
certain objectionable features that must be investigated when encountering fuel system troubles. A
syphon or diaphragm failure will allow air to enter the fuel on the inlet side of the pump if the pump
inlet pressure is less than atmospheric. Conversely, if the pump inlet pressure is above atmospheric
pressure, fuel will be discharged from the vent. For proper altitude compensation the vent must be open.
If it should become clogged by ice or foreign matter while at altitude, the fuel pressure will decrease
during descent. If the vent becomes clogged during ascent, the fuel pressure will increase as the altitude
is increased.
In addition to the relief valve, the fuel pump has a bypass valve that permits fuel to flow around the
pump rotor whenever the pump is inoperative.

This valve, shown in figure, consists of a disk that is lightly spring loaded against a series of ports in
the relief valve head. When fuel is needed for starting the engine, or in the event of engine driven pump
failure, fuel at booster pump pressure is delivered to the fuel pump inlet. When the pressure is great
enough to move the bypass disk from its seat, fuel is allowed to enter the carburetor for priming or
metering. When the engine driven pump is in operation, the pressure built up on the outlet side of the
pump, together with the pressure of the bypass spring, holds the disk on its seat and prevents fuel flow
through the ports.

Although the centrifugal type is the most common type of booster pump, there are still a few sliding
vane-type booster pumps in service. This type, too, is driven by an electric motor. Unlike the centrifugal
type, it does not have the advantage of the centrifuge action to separate the vapour from the fuel. Since
it is a positive displacement type pump, it must have a relief valve to prevent excessive pressure. Its
construction and operation are identical to the engine driven pump.


Selector valves are installed in the fuel system to provide a means for shutting off the fuel flow, for tank
and engine selection, for crossfeed, and for fuel transfer. The size and number of ports (openings) vary
with the type of installation. For example, a single engine aircraft with two fuel tanks and a reserve fuel
supply requires a valve with four ports - three inlets from the tanks and a common outlet. The valve
must accommodate the full flow capacity of the fuel line, must not leak, and must operate freely with a
definite "feel" or "click" when it is in the correct position. Selector valves may be operated either
manually or electrically. A tube, rod, or cable is attached to a manually operated valve so that it can be
operated from the cockpit. Electrically operated valves have an actuator, or motor. The three main types
of selector valves are the poppet, cone, and disk.

The poppet-type selector valve has an individual poppet valve at each inlet port. A cam and yoke on the
same shaft act to open the selected poppet valve as the yoke isTurned.
Fig shows how the cam lifts the upper poppet valve from its seat when the control handle is set to the
"number 2" tank. This opens the passage from the "number 2" tank to the engine. At the same time, a
raised portion of the index plate drops into a notch in the side of the cam. This produces the "feel" that
indicates the valve is in the wide open position. The control handle should always be set by "feel" rather
than by the marking on the indicator dial. The index mechanism also keeps the valve in the desired
position and prevents creeping caused by vibration. Some valves have more than one raised portion on
the cam to allow two or more ports to be opened at the same time. The cone-type selector valve has
either an all metal or a cork faced aluminium housing. The cone, which fits into the housing, is rotated
by means of a cockpit control. To supply fuel from the desired tank, the cockpit control is turned until
the passages in the cone align with the correct ports in the housing. An indexing mechanism aids in
obtaining the desired setting and also holds the cone in the selected position. Some cone-type valves
have a friction release mechanism that reduces the amount of turning torque required to make a tank
selection and that can be adjusted to prevent leakage.

The rotor of the disk-type selector valve fits into a cylindrical hole in the valve body. Note that the rotor
has one open port and several sealing disks - one for each port in the housing. To select a tank, the rotor
is turned until the open port aligns with the port from which fuel flow is desired. At this time, all other
ports are closed by the sealing disks. In this position, fuel will flow from the desired tank to the selector
valve and out through the engine feed port at the bottom of the valve. To ensure positive port alignment
for full fuel flow, the indexing mechanism centre of forces a spring loaded ball into a ratchet ring. When
the selector valve is placed in the closed position, the open port in the rotor is opposite a blank in the
valve body, while each scaling disk covers a tank port.

Fuel tank shutoff valves have two positions, open and closed. They are installed in the system to prevent
fuel loss when a fuel system component is being removed or when a part of the system is damaged. In
some installations they are used to control the fuel flow during fuel transfer. They are operated either
manually or electrically. An electrically operated fuel shutoff valve includes a reversible electric motor
linked to a sliding valve assembly. The motor moves the valve gate in and out of the passage through
which the fuel flows, thus, shutting off or turning on the fuel flow.

Functions of the lubrication System
The lubrication system of a reciprocating engine is one of its most important and vital systems.
An engine operated with insufficient lubrication will, within minutes, drastically overheat and seize.
Improper service of the lubricating system can cause excessive wear of the moving parts.
The lubrication system has a number of very important functions. It reduces friction between
the moving parts of the engine and provides an effective seal and cushion between moving parts.
The oil absorbs heat from the cylinder walls and pistons, and carries it outside the engine where the
heat is transferred to the outside air. The oil protects metal parts of the engine against corrosion and
picks up contaminants, carrying them into filters where they remain trapped.
Reduces Friction
Even though metal surfaces may appear to be smooth, they are often proven rough when
examined under a microscope. Each surface has a series of peaks and valleys, and when two surfaces
rub together, the irregularities on one surface Jock with those on the other. It requires effort to
move one surface over the other. Without adequate lubrication, so much heat is generated that the
peaks in one part will weld to the peaks in the other, and continued movement will tear chunks from
the metal. These chunks, however small, act as an abrasive causing further wear.
If the surfaces are covered with a lubricant, such as a film of oil, the oil will fill all of the
irregularities and hold the surfaces apart so they do not contact each other. The only friction
encountered when the parts are moved is the internal friction of the oil. The friction between the
teeth of mating gears could cause a great deal of friction and wear if the gears are not adequately
lubricated. Some gears have so much pressure between their teeth that special extreme-pressure
(EP) lubricants are used to prevent the film of lubricant from rupturing, which would allow contact
between the metals.
Microscopic roughness on the
surface oftwo pieces ofmetal rubbing
rogether uses power, produces heat, and
wears the metal.

Seals and Cushions

One of the characteristics of a lubricating oil is its viscosity or stickiness. A viscous oil wets the
surfaces where there is relative movement, and provides a seal to prevent air escaping from
between them. This type of seal is important between a piston and the cylinder wall. It is also crucial
for forming a seal between the gear teeth and the housing or the lubricating oil pump.
The oil clings to the metal and cushions the impact when su1faces pound
together, as the rocker arms pound inside their bushings each time the pushrods ride up on the cam
Removes Heat
Engine lubricating oil absorbs as much heat as possible from all lubricated
surfaces, but it absorbs the most heat from the underside of the piston head and from the cylinder
Most pistons have fins on the underside of their head to increase the surface contacted by
the lubricating oil. Some of the oil that is pumped through the hollow crankshaft sprays out between
the crank-pin journal and the connecting rod big-end bearing or through a squirt hole in the
connecting rod cap. This oil absorbs heal from the piston and cylinder wall, carrying it out of the
engine, and into the air that passes through the oil cooler.
Cleans Inside of Engine
Contaminants such as combustion deposits, sludge, dirt, carbon, and particles of metal worn
from the moving parts are picked up by the oil as it circulates through the engine. Most oil used in
aircraft reciprocating engines is an
ashless-dispersant, or AD oil that contains an additive that disperses the contaminants and prevents
clumping. The contaminants are suspended in the
oil until trapped in the oil filter, and are removed when the filter is replaced
during routine maintenance inspections.
Protects Against Corrosion
A coating of engine oil on all parts inside the engine prevents oxygen and
moisture from reaching the metal and protects it from rust and corrosion. Nitrided crankshafts and
cylinder walls are especially susceptible to corrosion and must be protected with a covering of oil.
When an engine is to remain out of service for an extended period of time,
the cylinder walls should be protected with a special preservative oil that clings to the surface better
than ordinary engine oil.

Performs Hydraulic Action

The vast majority of horizontally opposed engines have hydraulic valve lifters that keep all
clearance out of the valve operating mechanism, and almost all of the larger engines have
hydraulically actuated constant-speed propellers. The engine lubricating oil acts as the hydraulic
fluid for the valve lifters and propeller pitch-change mechanism.

Reciprocating Engine Lubricating Oils

There are four bases for lubricants used to reduce friction between moving
parts: animal, vegetable, mineral, and synthetic.
Animal lubricants are used for special applications. Neat's-foot oil from
cattle hooves is used to preserve leather, and oil from the sperm whale is used to lubricate watches
and clocks. Animal oil is not suitable for use as an engine
lubricant because it becomes chemically unstable at high temperatures, but it can be used in the
manufacture of synthetic oils.
Castor oil is a vegetable-base lubricant that was used in rotary radial engines in the World War
I era. It has the disadvantage of oxidizing when exposed to the air, and it forms a gummy residue
inside the engine.
Mineral oils, which are obtained by the distillation of crude petroleum, are the most widely
used lubricants for aircraft engines because they have a much greater chemical stability than either
animal- or vegetable-based lubricants.
Synthetic oils are made by synthesizing or changing the molecular structure of animal,
vegetable, or mineral oils.

Characteristics of Reciprocating Engine Lubricating Oil

Aviation oils have different characteristics from automotive oils because of
the unique requirements of an aircraft engine. Some of the requirements that
determine the characteristics of which oil to use are:
• The operating load of the bearings and gears
• The rotational speed which determines the operating speed of
the bearings
• The operating temperatures

viscosity index (VI). A measure of change in viscosity of an oil as it changes temperature. The higher
the viscosity index, the less the viscosity changes.

Types of Reciprocating Engine Lubricating Oil

There are six types of oil that are or have been used in aircraft engines:
straight mineral, detergent, ashless-dispersant, multiviscosity, synthetic, and
Straight Mineral Oil
Straight mineral oil is obtained by fractional distillation of crude petroleum.Two bases of
crude oil produced in the United States are asphaltic and
paraffinic. Asphaltic- or naphthenic-base crude oil comes from California or
the Gulf of Mexico, and paraffinic-base crude oil comes from oil fields in and
around Pennsylvania.
Straight mineral oil was the standard oil for reciprocating engines for
many years, but it is not an ideal oil for modern engines because it oxidizes
when exposed to high temperatures. It also combines with partially burned
fuel, water, and lead compounds to form sludge that clogs the oil strainers and
scores, or scratches, the engine bearings.
When a turbocharged engine is improperly shut down by not allowing an
adequate cooling-down time, the turbocharger housing is so hot that the oil,
which is no longer circulating, forms carbon, or coke, in the bearings.
Straight mineral oil, meeting MIL-L-6082(Military Standard) and SAEJ 1966specifications, (Society
of Automotive Engineers) is no longer used as the principal lubricating oil for aircraft reciprocating
engines, but most engine manufacturers recommend its use in new and freshly overhauled engines
for about the first 10 to 50 hours, or until oil consumption stabilizes. After this break-in period,
ashless-dispersant oil is used. There are some notable exceptions to this procedure for some
Lycoming engines and engines with some of the newer cylinder wall treatments.

Metallic·Ash Detergent Oil

Detergent oils have been used successfully in automotive engines for years,
but their use in aircraft engines has proven to be less than satisfactory. These
lubricants contain ash-forming additives to improve their antioxidation
characteristics, but leftover ash deposits can build up in the cylinders and
absorb enough heat to cause preignition.
These additives have a strong detergent action that loosens sludge and
carbon deposits which could then flow through the lubrication system and
clog oil passages and filters. Detergent oils have, in the past, been approved for some aircraft
engines but they are no longer used.

Ashless·Dispersant (AD) Oil

The main lubricant used in aircraft reciprocating engines is an ashless-dispersant or AD oil that
meets MIL-L-22851 and SAE J 1899 specifications.
The additives in AD oil do not prevent the formation of carbon, and they do
not break loose any sludge or carbon deposits that have formed in the engine.
The dispersant additives cause the contaminants that the oil picks up to repel
each other so they do not form a screen-clogging sludge, but rather, remain
suspended in the oil until collected in the filters.
AD oils have such good lubricating properties that they are not recommended for the break-in
period in new engines, and should be used only after the rings have seated and the oil consumption
stabilizes. However, AD oil is
recommended for breaking in some cylinders with modem cylinder-wall treatments. When installing
any new or reconditioned cylinder, you must follow in detail the procedures recommended by the
engine manufacturer or cylinder overhauler.

Multiviscosity Oil
The viscosity of a liquid is its resistance to flow. Water has a low viscosity, and it flows
readily, but a liquid such as honey has a high viscosity, because it flows very slowly, especially when
cold. The viscosity index of an oil is a measure of the change in viscosity with a change in
temperature. An oil with a high VI changes viscosity very little with changes in temperature, but one
with a low VI changes viscosity appreciably as its temperature changes.
An additive called a viscosity index improver (VI improver) can be mixed with a lubricating
oil that will decrease its viscosity when cold and increase
it when hot.

Synthetic Oil
Synthetic oil is made by synthesizing or changing the molecular structure of certain animal,
vegetable, or mineral bases to form a new type of oil base.
Synthetic oils have superior characteristics for high temperatures and are used almost exclusively for
turbine engines. They have two characteristics that make them desirable for use in reciprocating
engines: They have a superior resistance to oxidation, which allows a longer period between
changes, and they have low internal friction. One problem with synthetic oils is their tendency
toward sludge buildup, especially in engines that are not used frequently.
Synthetic oils are not universally approved for use in reciprocating
engines, but this is subject to change as further study and developments
are made.
Semisynthetic Oil
A combination of mineral oil and synthetic oil with the proper additives has proven to have
the characteristics of a multiviscosity oil, and does not absorb
the lead salts that cause the sludge buildup in synthetic oils.
Extreme Pressure (EP) Lubricants
There are applications in aircraft engines and helicopter transmissions in
which the film strength of an ordinary lubricating oil is not strong enough to withstand the high
tooth pressures and high rubbing velocities encountered.
For these applications, an EP lubricant is required. EP lubricants contain additives that form iron
chlorides, sulfides, or phosphides on the surface of a steel part. These surfaces give the lubricant an
extremely high-strength bond with the metal.

Compatibility of Lubricating Oils

All mineral-base lubricating oils approved for use in aircraft reciprocating
engines are compatible with each other. When a straight mineral-base oil is
mixed with an AD oil, the AD characteristics decrease, but there are no
problems caused by the mixing.
The additives in oils designed for automotive engines are different from
those in aviation oils. Automotive oil should not be used in aircraft engines, nor should automotive
oil be mixed with aviation oil. Turbine engines use synthetic-base oil that is formulated for the
specific requirements of turbine engines and approved under MIL-L-7808 specifications. These
requirements are different from those in reciprocating engines, and turbine engine oil should not be
used in a reciprocating engine.

Types of Lubrication Systems

There are two ways the lubrication systems of reciprocating engines can be classified: the
location in which the oil supply is carried, and the method of
lubrication within the engine itself.

sump. A low point in an aircraft engine in which the oil collects and is stored or from which it is
pumped from the engine into an external tank.

dry-sump engine. An engine that carries its lubricating oil supply in a tank external to the engine.

wet-sump engine. An engine that carries its lubricating oil supply in a reservoir that is part of the
engine itself.
Horizontally opposed engine using a dry-sump lubrication system

fractional distillation.

Procedure used for separating various components from a physical mixture of liquids. Crude oil is a
mixture of many different types of hydrocarbon fuels which can be separated by carefully raising its
temperature. The first products to be released. Those having the lowest boiling points. Are some of
the gaseous fuels: next arc gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, heavy fuel oils, lubricating oils, and finally,
tar and asphalt.

air-fuel mixture ratio.

The ratio of the weight of the air to that of the fuel in the mixture fed into the cylinders of an engine.

stoichiometric mixture. The fuel-air mixture ratio that, when burned, leaves no uncombined oxygen
nor any free carbon. It releases the maximum amount of heat. And therefore produces the highest
exhaust gas temperature. A stoichiometric mixture of gasoline and air contains 15 pounds of air for 1
pound of gasoline.

brake specific fuel consumption (BSFC).

A measure of the amount of fuel used for a given amount of power developed by a heat engine.
BSFC is expressed in pounds of fuel burned per hour for each brake horsepower the engine

Mixture Ratio and Engine Power

A mixture of 15 pounds of air for every pound of gasoline burns with no excess oxygen,
hydrogen, or carbon, and it would appear that the fuel metering system should be adjusted to
produce this mixture. But the design of the induction system, the valve timing, and the amount of
heat the engine can tolerate, all enter into choosing the correct mixture ratio for the existing
A carburetor is a very inefficient device for getting a uniform combustible mixture into the
cylinders. The correct amount of fuel is metered and sprayed into the throat of the carburetor as
droplets of liquid gasoline which evaporate to become fuel vapor. There is approximately 9,000
times the volume of air flowing into the engine as there is fuel, and the fuel vapor and the air do not
mix perfectly.
The carburetor is connected to the intake valve ports of various cylinders by induction pipes,
which vary in length and have several bends in them. The air and fuel vapor flowing into the
cylinders does not move in a steady stream, but in a series of pulses caused by the low pressure each
time an intake valve opens. These pulses cause the velocity, and therefore the pressure, to vary
along the intake pipes. Ideally, the fuel vapor and air would be perfectly mixed, and the
pressure of the mixture would be maximum at the intake valve in order to get the greatest amount
of mixture into the cylinder. But the pressure and amount of mixing change all along the induction
system, and they also change with engine speed. Some cylinders receive a rich mixture and others
receive a much leaner mixture. This uneven fuel-air mixture distribution has been a serious problem
with aircraft reciprocating engines since the earliest days, but is minimized to some extent by fuel
injection systems.


Ignition of the fuel-air mixture inside the cylinder of an engine before the time for normal ignition.
Preignition is often caused by incandescent objects inside the cylinder.

Detonation and Preignition

The power produced by an aircraft engine can be increased by raising the pressure of the fuel-
air mixture before it is ignited. This can be done by either compressing the air before it enters the
cylinders with a supercharger, or by increasing the compression ratio of the engine. The ultimate
amount of power an engine can develop is determined by detonation characteristics of the fuel.

When the fuel-air mixture is ignited in the cylinder, it does not explode, but rather it burns in
an orderly fashion. The flame progresses across the piston head, heating and compressing the
unburned fuel and air in front of it. When the unburned fuel-air mixture is heated and compressed
to its critical pressure and temperature, it no longer burns, but rather explodes, releasing its energy
immediately. This explosion causes an instantaneous and tremendous increase in cylinder pressure
and temperature, and produces shock waves inside the cylinder which can cause severe damage.
This is detonation.
Detonation in an automobile engine is easily heard as the familiar pinging or knocking. In an
aircraft engine, it is not normally heard, but can be detected by a loss of power, vibration, and a
decrease in EGT. This is followed by an increase in cylinder head temperature.

Float Carburetors
An aircraft reciprocating engine fuel metering system must perform a number or functions vital to
the operation of the engine. Some of these functions are:
• Measure the amount of air entering the engine.
• Meter into this air the correct amount of atomized liquid gasoline.
• Convert the liquid gasoline into gasoline vapors and distribute them
uniformly to all cylinders.
• Provide a constant fuel-air mixture ratio with changes in air density
and volume.
• Provide an overly rich mixture when the engine is operating at peak
power to remove some of the excessive heat.
• Provide a temporarily rich mixture when the engine is rapidly
• Provide for effective fuel metering when the engine is idling and the
airflow through the carburetor is not sufficient for normal metering.

A float carburetor accomplishes these functions with five systems: main metering system,
idling system, acceleration system, mixture control system, and power-enrichment, or economizer,
system. The examples used are the Marvel-Schebler MA4-5 carburetor used on engines in the 200
horsepower range, and the Bendix NAS-3 carburetor used on engines up to about 100 horsepower.
The Marvel-Schebler carburetor has both a main and a boost venturi, and the smaller Bendix
carburetor has only a single main venturi.