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New Technology for Preheating Your Aircraft Engine

20 December 2022   Aircraft Maintenance

During these cold winter months it’s important that you properly preheat your aircraft engine before taking flight. Much like you preheat your car on a freezing morning, you should also preheat your aircraft engine because when you start an aircraft engine cold, the pistons are forced to work overtime and it causes excess wear and tear on your engine. 

While standard heating methods like block heaters, dipstick heaters, and hot air blowers are tried and true methods of preheating your aircraft engine, new technologies have been developed that are more convenient and efficient. Let’s explore several of these heating methods. 

The Standard Methods

Block heater

A block heater is a small heater that is embedded into the engine itself, so it will need to be installed. A cord runs from the block heater to an electrical outlet, allowing your engine to warm up thoroughly before you use your aircraft. How long you’ll need to keep it plugged in before using your aircraft depends on the size of your engine, it can be anywhere from two to six hours.

Dipstick heater

A dipstick heater replaces your regular oil engine dipstick, and it heats the oil in your engine directly. These heaters need to be installed professionally, and are more commonly used in smaller aircraft engines. Dipstick heaters also need to be plugged in so they can warm the oil in your engine, so you’ll need access to a nearby electrical outlet. 

Hot air blower

Hot air blowers, generally powered by propane, diesel, or gas, are commonly found at many executive airports. These heaters are set up on a cart that easily moves from aircraft to aircraft, and a large, cylindrical vent runs from the heater into your aircraft to warm it. 

New Technology: Cellular Access To Control Your Heater

The aircraft industry is always interested in easier, more convenient, and more efficient ways to preheat aircraft engines. One impressive new product called Switchbox allows you to turn on your preheater using your iPhone or iPad, so you don’t have to venture out into the chilly night to preheat your aircraft engine. 

With Switchbox there’s no risk of leaving your heater running too long if you decide not to fly, or forgetting to turn it off, because you can set custom timers to switch off your heater at the time of your choice. You can also simply send a text message to turn off your heater, and you’ll get a reply text to confirm the heater has been turned off. 

With remote heating options like Switchbox, you don’t have to trudge to the airport the night before to plug in your engine heater, you don’t have to worry about finding airport staff to preheat your engine if you can’t do it yourself, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting to switch it off. It’s convenient, efficient, and ensures your aircraft is ready to fly. 

For more information about the new technology for preheating your aircraft engine, or if you have any questions, please contact our team at Monmouth Jet Center today. We look forward to hearing from you.