Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, June 1, 2005

12 Tips To Beat The Heat


Here are a dozen effective suggestions for safer summertime flying


Most new-production and many high-performance aircraft have fuel-injected engines. There are some advantages of fuel injection over carburetion, but one drawback is that injected engines can be difficult to start when hot. Fuel vaporizing in fuel pumps and lines needs to be purged before the engine can fire. Here’s where a good read through the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) is worthwhile—it should contain a hot-start procedure that takes into account the airplane’s design and make of its fuel-injection system. What is good hot-starting practice in some types can be downright damaging in others." />

7 CARBURETOR ICE. Summertime is not only the hottest part of the year in many parts of the country, but it may also be the most humid. Carbureted engines reduce internal temperatures by as much as 50 degrees F, making engine-choking ice a possibility in moist air even during summertime temperatures. When the relative humidity exceeds about 50% and/or the dew point is within around five degrees of the temperature, do the following:

Use full carb heat at low power settings and as otherwise recommended by the POH.

Clear the engine by advancing the power slightly every 30 seconds or so if you’re in an extended glide (such as a simulated engine failure or a long, power-off letdown).

Consider installing and occasionally calibrating a carburetor temperature gauge and using carb heat as necessary to keep temperatures in the induction system above freezing.

8 AIRFRAME ICE. If you’re flying a turbocharged airplane at high altitude, don’t forget that the temperature aloft may be cool enough to support icing, even when the surface is a very hot furnace. Add pitot heat and other ice-protection systems checks to your checklist when you’re climbing to altitude, even on the hottest days.

9 CONVECTIVE TURBULENCE. Hot surface air sets up flows that can cause moderate or greater turbulence close to the ground. It’s generally accepted that noon is the time to end all summer flights in the desert Southwest because turbulence later in the day will be intense. Hot days over less arid climes still may produce uncomfortable-to-dangerous convective turbulence close to the ground. Conditions get even worse around mountains or when surface winds are high. Avoid the worst by:

Planning flights for the morning hours or in the early evening.

Cruising 5,000 feet or higher above terrain on hot days.

Planning descent to spend as little time as possible at low altitudes.

Avoiding areas with visual or weather briefing reports of dust devils or blowing dust.




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