How and Why Aircraft Engines Fail

Reasons behind aircraft engine failure s due to poor maintenance or pilot mistakes.Asu ch, this blog will cover why aircraft engines fail and what can be done to prevent future failures.

Since engine failure is a looming fear for pilots, many opt for multi-engine airplanes that are equipped with backup systems in the case that one engine fails. While annual inspections, preflight checks, and overhauls are all procedures set in place to detect problems before they escalate, engines can still malfunction. For instance, lack of use, outside storage, and the pilot’s improper use of controls can place an excessive burden on engines.

It is important to note that a study conducted by Bruce Edsten at the Flight Standards District Office in Louisville, Kentucky, indicated that about 20% of general aviation accidents involve a loss of engine power, noting that many of those incidents were attributed to pilot error. With this in mind, there can be preventative measures put in place to ensure this does not occur.

Of all the reasons for engine failure, fuel exhaustion and starvation are the most common. It is no surprise that a lack of fuel does not allow an engine to run. To prevent this from happening, checking fuel levels is paramount. Meanwhile, starvation can occur as a result of clogged fuel tank vents. Debris or insects can also obstruct the proper flow of fuel. This is where preflight planning is an integral step in avoiding exhaustion/starvation accidents.

As it is possible for debris or contaminants to make their way into fuel, about 11% of accidents involving engine failure were sourced from contaminated fuel. At the top of the list, one can find water as a primary contaminant. The use of Jet-A fuel can also lead to contamination in an engine designed to burn avgas. While this mistake is typically credited to a poorly trained refueler, this is still not an excuse. Pumping Jet-A fuel into piston-powered aircraft can result in melted pistons, burned valves, and a nasty clean-up process.

Another likely source of engine failure can be pinpointed to carburetor ice. Often occurring as a result of pilots ignoring the need for carb heat or when carb heat is used improperly, in about half of carburetor incidents, Edsten found that the carb heat did not work. Broken cables, bad linkages, and deteriorated carb heat boxes can impede the pilot’s ability to supply hot air to a choking engine.

Fuel system problems are another probable cause of engine failure, being responsible for a little less than 8% of aircraft accidents. From clogged fuel injectors to jammed fuel selector switches, deteriorated primer system seals, and fuel filter corrosion, such occurrences have a similar effect to fuel starvation as fuel cannot get into the cylinders properly. Nonetheless, all of these issues can be resolved/prevented with proper maintenance.

While the list of possible reasons for engine failure is long, it is important to confirm that exact source of the problem. If engine issues are connected to the need for replacement parts, you must find a trusted distributor that stocks top-quality aviation components. When you find yourself in need of such items, rely on Internet of Industrials. Internet of Industrials is replete with superior quality aircraft parts that have been vetted for quality, reliability, and function. Get started today and see how Internet of Industrials can serve as your strategic sourcing partner. For additional questions, call or email us at any time; we are available 24/7!


June 27, 2022

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