The induction system is crucial for the operation of a reciprocating aircraft engine, ensuring that air is brought into the system for the means of combustion. As air is brought in from the outside, it is mixed with fuel before being delivered to the engine cylinder assembly for ignition. Due to the relation of the induction system’s ability to draw in air and the general performance of the aircraft, it is important that such assemblies are well-designed and maintained. In this blog, we will discuss how the induction system works and how it supplies the engine with sufficient airflow.
In a standard assembly that contains a carburetor, the induction system draws in air from the lower front nose cowling which is located below the propeller spinner. Once entering the system, the air is passed through an air filter before being transferred towards the carburetor through air duct assemblies. Located below the carburetor is the heat valve, and it may be used for alternate sources of carburetor heat in order to prevent carburetor icing.
Carburetor icing can block up the passages that air flows through, and it often occurs when there is moisture present within the lower throat of the carburetor and temperatures are low. During colder conditions and months, the carburetor heat valve is used for directing warm air from the engine into a duct surrounding the exhaust manifold in order to prevent ice formation. When the valve is closed, the warm air from the engine is supplied to the carburetor to increase the temperature of intake air. To operate the carburetor heat valve, pilots can use a push-pull control which is situated within the cockpit. In the case that a blockage occurs of which cannot be resolved with the operation of the heat valve, an alternate air door can be operable through engine suction to ensure airflow continues.
Dust and contaminants are detrimental to the health of the engine, possibly causing corrosion, blockages, and failures if assemblies are left unprotected. In order to prevent foreign matter from entering the induction system and engine, the air filter is implemented in front of the carburetor air duct within the air scoop. With an aluminum alloy frame and crimped screen, foreign matter can be captured without mitigating airflow. Air filter screens often come in the form of paper and foam variations, and all filters should be serviced regularly to ensure their cleanliness and operability.
When dust and other foreign matter is able to reach the inside of the engine, it can often collect on many surfaces and cause damage due to its abrasive properties. When dust collects on fuel-metering devices, it can affect engine power settings as the relation between airflow and fuel flow is upset. Foreign materials also pose a risk to the engine cylinder walls as they can cause abrasions and wear over time. With more damage to various components and structures, oil can be contaminated which can lead to further detrimental effects, blockages, and eventual failure. As such, all engine components should be inspected and maintained on regular intervals to better guarantee aircraft engine health and performance.
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