July 29, 2011
Flying during a summer heat wave presents special challenges for the aircraft and the pilot. Every student pilot learns that loss of climb performance from high-density-altitude conditions is an expected summer flying hazard. Checking the charts to know what to expect before taking on “high, hot, and heavy” conditions is a pilot’s first duty.
Another risk is an overheated engine. That reduced performance probably means a longer time climbing to cruise altitude, at a climb angle of attack that, even in ideal conditions, provides less than maximum air flow over the cylinders. Add in some pretakeoff delay, or prolonged taxiing, and it is time to be watchful for a higher-than-usual oil temperature indication.
If such an indication appears during the climb, try a tradeoff: Increasing your airspeed will improve engine cooling but sacrifice some climb performance. Check the mixture—do you remember which condition can result in excessive temperatures?
Engine temperature management is a balancing act. Unusual outside air temperatures make it a more complicated puzzle to solve.
“Keeping an engine too cool in flight can also be harmful; if oil cannot get hot enough to burn off water that has condensed in it, internal engine rust can occur. Engine experts suggest an oil temperature of around 180 degrees or a little higher as a happy medium for typical air-cooled GA engines,” says the Air Safety Institute’s Engine Operations Safety Advisor. Note the publication’s advice about using other installed instruments such as an exhaust-gas temperature gauge or cylinder-head temperature gauge to help manage engine temperatures.
If basic temperature-control methods aren’t working, you may have to shift to troubleshooting mode. Did you remember to check the oil during your preflight inspection? The problem could be as simple (but still serious) as low oil quantity. Symptoms and possible causes were discussed in an August 2002 Flight Training feature.
Remember that a high oil temperature indication paired with low oil pressure signals serious engine problems. Land as soon as possible.
Your answers on this Final Exam from a past issue of ePilot Flight Training Edition provide a good gauge of your knowledge of engine operations. Check your performance, and review as necessary before that next flight on a hot day. If you need a brushup, try the Air Safety Institute’s Engine and Propeller online course.
Arlynn McMahon, 2009 CFI of the Year, has followed up her successful Train Like You Fly textbook with Lesson Plans to Train Like You Fly, published by ASA. The book provides lesson plans in the form of “maneuver briefings,” and shows flight instructors what to draw and what to say to teach each maneuver required for the private and commercial certificates. Templates, checklists, and student assignments are included. The book sells for $19.95 or $14.99 in e-book format. For more information, see the website.
Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.
Question: Is a high-performance endorsement required to operate a turbine-powered airplane?
Answer: Assuming that an engine produces more than 200 horsepower, the answer to your question is yes. FAR 61.31(f) makes no distinction between types of engines for a high-performance aircraft. It merely states that in order to act as pilot in command (PIC) of an airplane with an engine of more than 200 hp, an individual must have received training from an authorized instructor in a high-performance airplane, or in a simulator or flight training device that is representative of a high-performance airplane, and obtain a logbook endorsement. There is an exception for those who had logged high-performance PIC flight time prior to Aug. 4, 1997. No training or endorsement is required for those folks. For more on flying high-performance aircraft, read AOPA’s subject report.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don’t forget the online archive of “Final Exam” questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.
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