Aircraft Reciprocating Engine Starting System
Since the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903, the aviation industry has changed quite a bit. But, one of the most crucial components, the reciprocating engine, has not. The reciprocating engine is a heat engine used on propeller aircraft that uses one or more reciprocating pistons to convert pressure into rotary motion in order to turn the propeller. The reciprocating engine can be started in various ways, depending on size of the engine.
For aircraft flying at higher altitudes, starting the aircraft is troublesome due to lubricating oil congealing at higher altitudes. For smaller and older aircraft, the starting system used are inertia starters. Although there are not many left with inertia starters, it’s important to know the different types of inertia starters.
There are three inertia starters that include hand, electric, and combination of the two. Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its velocity. The inertia starters use the transfer of energy to start the reciprocating engine. As the motion of cranking—by hand— or rotation—by an electric motor— is initiated, the energy is transferred linearly or rotationally. And, the movable parts, such as reduction gears, the shaft, and the flywheel begin to move. When the starter is engaged, the energy is transferred to the flywheel, and then to the engine. The motions involved for the hand crank and the electric motor are similar. The electric motor just requires additional equipment and mechanisms to engage and disengage the starter. The electric motor also uses helical motion to produce the required torque needed to reach the necessary speed. Once the necessary speed is reached, the starter automatically disengages.
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