The Basics of the Aircraft Engine Parts

Aircraft are made from millions of individual items, and as knowledge is key, it is best that pilots familiarize themselves with how various systems and assemblies function on board the vehicle. In particular, as the function of engine mechanics may only be briefly reviewed in rudimentary flight training, a pilot should still take the time to study various aircraft engines and the parts that construct them; in the future event regarding engine issues while in the air, this information can aid pilots in determining the best course of action.

Specific to light aircraft that are powered with an internal combustion engine, typical parts that make up the powerhouse include cylinders, spark plugs, magnetos, and lubrication, alongside a vacuum pump, alternator, starter, and carburetor. When operating as intended, these combined components produce enough propulsion to drive a small aircraft forward by converting chemical energy into mechanical energy.

As internal combustion engines function based on the principle of converting reciprocating motion into rotational motion, this means that when pistons within the engine move up and down, a crankshaft is turned which subsequently drives the propeller. However, to provide the engine with the power needed to get the system into gear, a combined mixture of fuel and air must be ignited and combusted. This is done by utilizing valves and spark plugs within the engine assembly, the latter of which is powered by magnetos which give spark plugs their well-known “spark.” Upon instigating the ignition switch needed to start the engine when primed, a mixture of fuel and air is injected into the cylinders where it is then ignited to produce an explosive force capable of completing a piston stroke. From here, the repetitive strokes of a piston inside a cylinder will continue as the fuel/air mixture is combusted under extreme pressure. At this time, a vacuum pump and alternator will be powered, providing on-board components with the power they need to function. 

With there always being a byproduct of material created during combustion, each cylinder contains at least two valves: a valve which intakes the fuel/air mixture, and a valve which exhausts gasses after combustion. While the intake valve regulates the appropriate ratio of fuel and air into a cylinder, exhaust valves play a key role in ensuring that pressure within the cylinder does not exceed a certain threshold. This is because, without an exit solution for exhaust to escape, the build up of extremely hot gasses within the engine can induce part failure, and potentially require the need for engine overhaul.

To allow the repetitive strokes of a piston to continue in fluid rotation, it is attached to a connecting rod which is affixed to a device known as the crankshaft. The crankshaft helps connect items like pistons into a row, allowing them to continue a reciprocating cycle occurring within the engine block. Situated within the crankcase specifically, crankshafts are routinely fabricated with crank pins, crank webs, and journals to reinforce joints and provide better performance.

No matter the engine hardware you need for your machinery, ranging from replacement vacuum pumps to alternators, if an aircraft part demands immediate replacement, look no further than ASAP Buying.

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