What Is the Starting Process for Turboprop and Turbofan Engines?
While piloting an aircraft, it is very important that one is well aware of the starting process for their engine, ensuring that it starts and runs smoothly without issue. With turboprop and turbofan engines, the process of starting operations may differ from smaller, lightweight trainers. As such, it can be highly beneficial to become familiar with such starting processes in the chance that you will one day pilot such an aircraft.
Turbine engine starting consists of three steps, those of which must correctly be carried out in the right order. For the first step, the pilot will utilize the starter to activate the main compressor, allowing airflow to be provided throughout the engine. Once the necessary speed for optimal airflow is achieved, the igniters will create a hot spark that causes the fuel to begin combusting. This process causes the engine to further accelerate, eventually reaching a self-sustaining speed for perpetual operation. At this point, the starter is disengaged as the turboprop engine is ready for flight.
While these steps are common for this particular type of engine, not all turboprop engines are exactly the same. The above steps are generalized instructions so that pilots can better familiarize themselves with the common starting process. Nonetheless, it is important that one utilizes manufacturer specifications and instructions prior to starting the engine to ensure that it is done correctly.
Turbofan engines are often compared to reciprocating engines as a result of sharing similar design attributes such as the use of propeller assemblies, though their starting process widely differs. For instance, a preflight run-up is not always required for a turbofan engine like it is for a reciprocating engine, unless there is a suspected malfunction. Before starting a turbofan engine, all protective covers and air inlet duct covers must be removed. It is also crucial that the surrounding area is cleaned and free of debris for the means of preventing any materials from being sucked into the running engine assembly.
The turbofan engine starting process is fairly similar to processes of other turbine engine types, yet there are specific steps that pilots must be familiar with. Generally, the first step is to activate an air turbine or electrical starters. If an air turbine starter is used, compressed air will be supplied from an external source to drive the assembly. To supply fuel, the start lever 3must be placed in the idle/start position, or the fuel shutoff valve will need to be opened. Once fuel is being supplied to the engine fuel pump inlet, the engine starter switch can be turned on. After checking oil pressure, the ignition switch may be turned on. The engine start light will then turn off, and the engine starter switch may be turned off as well once proper speeds are reached. If the engine stabilizes and no engine limits are exceeded, the turbofan engine will be ready for operation. As processes for specific engine models may vary, always refer to manufacturer instructions.
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