You’ve all heard of those pilots who can make TBO without spending a dollar. With our help, you can do it, too. Utilizing these tips could help you to save money by not having to replace parts as frequently. You can expect to operate your engine around 2,000 hours before it needs an overhaul, but that varies with each engine. So, be sure to check your aircraft engine manufacturer’s manual.
According to Flying Mag, a complete engine overhaul can range anywhere from $15,000 to around $45,000. As a pilot, being able to delay this process as long as possible while saving money in between is the preferred option.
1. Fly more often
This simple and helpful tip can save you a great deal of money. Get out and fly at least once a week, when weather permits.
Oil can drain back into your sump when you let your aircraft sit idle for too long. The film that coats the internal parts is wasted when it drains into your sump, and the remaining film does not provide enough of a barrier to prevent rust from forming on your aircraft’s ferrous parts.
Most experts know that, once rust begins forming, pitting follows shortly thereafter. Pitting typically leads to expensive repairs due to spalling.
For those of you who don’t fly as often as we suggest, you can use CamGuard to help prevent rust from forming, as well.
2. Take care of your cylinders
Keeping your CHTs below 400°F can help decrease valve wear and keep replacement costs to a minimum. If your cylinders are running at a cooler temperature, you can also avoid other issues such as valve sticking, detonation, and numerous other problems that take a major toll on your aircraft’s engine.
If you want to take advantage of a quick tip that could save you a few extra dollars, look into buying an all cylinder engine monitor. This device can help you monitor an array of engine readings.
3. Stop procrastinating on oil changes
Believe it or not, hours flown is not the only indicator of your oil needing to be changed. A typical recommendation is changing it every 50 hours if your engine has a filter, and 25 if not.
Every aircraft engine manufacturer publishes Service Bulletins. These guides ask pilots not to base their oil changes solely off of hours flown, but to also take into consideration that oil should never sit for more than 4 months. The oil may look clean, and have a limited number of hours on it, but it is not recommended to let it sit for more than the 4 months, as previously mentioned.
The dangerous part occurs when oil combines with moisture, after sitting for a long time, and forms corrosive acids. If your aircraft has a high time engine, or an engine with low compression, be especially aware of this oil issue.
For more on changing your oil click here.
4. Install oil filters
This tip is short and sweet. If your engine doesn’t have an oil filter, INSTALL ONE!
This one installation tip can save you a reasonable amount of money because of how much more efficient oil filters are versus oil screens. The amount of protection an oil filter provides for your engine is a great deal more than an oil screen.
Bonus tip: Inspect your oil filters. Although you’ve heard it a million times, it is still overlooked and rarely performed. Take the time to cut open your oil filter at every oil change. This could potentially save your life one day.
5. Replace your air filter
Scraping, grinding, wear, and tear all occur within your cylinder walls when you don’t change your air filters.
The numerous materials that fill up your air filter will eventually begin to pass through the air filter into your cylinders, drastically shortening the life of your aircraft’s engine.
By changing your air filters more often, you can increase the longevity of your aircraft’s engine and cylinders. Once again, keeping more money in your pocket.
6. Give your engine more love
Quit the cold starts!
Anytime you start a cold aircraft engine you place it under serious stress. Piston wear is very common when you cold start an engine due to the rapid expansion of the aluminum pistons. When the aluminum pistons are heated and expand, they expand at a rate that is roughly double that of steel cylinders.
Another error pilots commonly make is over priming the engine during start up. In the summer, one or two squirts is all you really need. Don’t overdo it!
You will wear your cylinders and pistons more quickly by over priming due to the loss of lubricating film from your cylinder walls. Cylinder replacements can take a major chunk out of your budget, if you aren’t careful.
7. Run-up the right way
Simple changes in the way you run-up can help your aircraft out in many ways.
When up against the hot summer weather, something as simple as facing into the wind during run-up can help to keep your cylinders cool. That extra air flow can go a long way. Don’t overlook this simple tip!
Bonus tip: 30 seconds of run-up time should be adequate if you know what you’re doing. Do not cause excess wear and tear by running up your engine more than necessary.
8. Watch the small stuff
Lastly, there are a few small things that can break your budget.
Check your baffles for air leaks. This can be done by shining a powerful light on the back of the baffles and looking for any holes coming out of the front. By solving this problem, you can keep your cylinders properly cooled.
Conserve power whenever you can. By being smart about power settings, you can reap great benefits. The easier you go on your engine the closer you can get to making TBO. Burning less fuel is always a plus too, right?
The major advice we want you to take away from this article is to simply THINK about how you can better preserve your aircraft’s components. All of the parts work together, and they all must be in good shape to keep the others running properly. By making simple modifications, or checking on smaller parts, you could reap an abundance of benefits.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others. We want to help as many people as we can. So, sharing is always appreciated!