Having acquired an aircraft maintenance center, I’ve seen lots of costly damage to airframes and engines through the years resulting from inadequate care in winter by the owner. Winter flying could be enjoyable and quite rewarding with the planning for you and your passengers. However, if winter flying isn’t your cup of tea, along with your airplane will sit outside, you might want to consider what you could do to create that harsh environment a bit easier for your aircraft.
Regardless of whether the aircraft will probably be procured until spring up or busy during winter, we can plan the summer season by identifying a few of the pitfalls, owners, and pilots can encounter. For example, owners might wish to perform the recommended engine and airframe storage procedures if the airplane will soon be in non-flying status. Others may want to take steps designed to ensure safety, many of which may fall over the preventative maintenance principles of the FAA owners may do. Regardless, now’s a great time to think about how we’ll handle winter.
1. Winter Maintenance
For instance, and irrespective of how much flight hours have passed ever since the last oil change, placing in fresh oil and a new filter can assist reduce erosion-causing wetness within the engine. Before doing the change, warm up the engine by flying for 20 to 30 minutes or so, then pump out the old oil. Fill it by winter-grade or multi-viscosity oil.
Together with the oil, the airplane’s ignition and electrical systems could require care to make sure effortless starting and anticipated performance. Spark plugs must be refined and gapped/replaced earlier to winter’s arrival, and any rescheduled magneto maintenance completed. The aircraft battery would be tested for its rated power by analyzing, not guessing. Battery makers Concorde and Gill both have detailed information on power tests to find out if your battery is in decent condition.
Cold weather starting, even with preheat, might be difficult under the ideal states, and a weak battery can make the difference between a prosperous start and hours onto the earth, waiting for an additional try. Hand and jump-started propping an aircraft armed with a beginner is asking for trouble, especially during cold weather. Meanwhile, quick charging a dead battery can cause it to weaken internally.
2. Preparing for Winter Parking
If you intend to perform consistent operations throughout winter, you must pay some attention to how and wherever your aircraft will be stored. Even after it’s placed in a hangar, snow-removal procedures and inadequately planned doors can impede with your routine access and make difficult your flying. Think About these ideas when preparing for winter:
- When going on a tiedown, select a location offering an electrical link for preheating and proper tiedown chains or ropes, a path to your aircraft.
- Where will the snow removal tools place the snow? Where will be taxiways and the automobile paths which are going to probably likely soon be kept open throughout winter? Where’s the result from throughout a winter storm? Would you like your plane facing in the end?
- Slipping hangar doors could freeze in their tracks if you hanger airplanes, and high winds also may prevent you from opening them.
3. Avoid Fuel Contamination
Gas contamination may occur anytime, and in just about any climate at FBOs with the greatest fuel-pumping equipment. When an airplane has been flown and parked in a hangar while it is still warm, those half-empty tanks can produce condensation, which can contaminate your aircraft’s fuel with water.
4. Never fuel the Aircraft while the Heater is On
Other commonsense suggestions include not leaving your aircraft unattended through the preheating process. Be careful that the heat ducting is not currently blowing off on parts of the aircraft engine that covers the upholstery, and fuel, oil, and hydraulic components. Indeed, pilots may have a fire extinguisher at the ready through the whole preheating process.
5. Use Caution While Preheating the Engine
It’s a good idea before going outside for a flight to preheat the engine if your airplane has been parked outdoors when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Because starting a cold aircraft engine can cause damage, always stick to the engine manufacturer’s strategies for cold weather starts. Ideally, you wish to store your airplane in a heated hangar to make sure it’s heated equally. Invest in a preheater, if a garage is not accessible.
It is vital to exercise caution through the preheating procedure to prevent the risk of fire. Ensure won’t ever leave your aircraft unattended through the preheating procedure and keep a fire extinguisher on hand. Think about wrap the engine at an insulated engine cover if your airplane will be parked outdoors for a couple of hours with no heating.
6. Beware of Runway Contamination
Perhaps the most hazardous portion of winter flying would be unpredictable contaminated runways. Much like driving an automobile, taxiing on snow or ice can make it more challenging to turn safely and brake. Avoid making sharp ends give yourself plenty of stopping distance and while taxiing.
In cold temperatures, take-offs and increase speed can be enhanced as a result of lower density altitudes. When coping with a potentially rainy, snowy, or icy surface, be well prepared to improve take-off distance and increase landing roll. In order you understand what to count on, before the shooting, ask ATC for braking reports. Circle the field to look for just about any snowdrifts or barriers which could pose a hazard, if possible.
Not only if your aircraft be prepared for cold temperatures, so should it be pilot. This means cold weather survival gear and appropriate clothing. Ensure your heating and venting systems are in good shape and equip your aircraft using a carbon dioxide detector. Usually do not proceed to operate it in this condition, if you detect carbon monoxide on the aircraft. Land at the nearest airport and have the aircraft repaired. Carbon monoxide is a quiet killer; don’t take up the risk with you and your travelers’ lives by ignoring the threat signs. Don’t block cold air vents through winter, as these might be the only path of receiving fresh air to the cabin.