Turboprop Engines and Tips to Ease Their Return-To-Service

For the engine’s operations, air enters the turboprop through the intake and is compressed using the compressor. Next, fuel is added to this compressed air present in the combustor. Here, the combustion process of the fuel-air mix takes place. The combustion gasses expand with the help of the turbine assembly, which ultimately generates power at the point of the exhaust system. A part of the power generated is used to drive the electric generator and compressor. As the final step, gasses release as exhaust from the turbine.

Uses of Turboprop Engines

As the jet velocity of a turboprop engine’s exhaust and aircraft propeller is comparatively lower than other options, it is the most efficient for flights that fly below 450 mph (725 km/h; 390 knots). A new-age turboprop airliner will run at approximately the same speed as a small regional jet airliner. However, it burns two-thirds of the fuel per passenger. Turboprop engines have a better power-to-weight ratio that enables the possibility of shorter takeoffs. They also have greater reliability which offsets their higher initial cost, fuel consumption, and maintenance.

Generally, turboprop engines are used in small subsonic aircraft. However, some large military aircraft, such as the Tupolev Tu-95, and civil aircraft, like the Lockheed L-188 Electra, are also powered by turboprop engines. Moreover, the Airbus A400M has four Europrop TP400 engines. The Europrop TP400 is the world’s second most powerful turboprop engine ever produced.

Tips For an Easy Return-To-Service for a Turboprop Engine

1. Store the Turboprop Engine the Right Way

The airline industry has only started to recover from the trauma it faced during the pandemic. After months of being kept grounded, numerous aircraft are returning to service after being unoperated for months. International travel across the globe is also still facing restrictions. However, regional airplanes are saving the day as a credit to the size, efficiency, and reliability.

As the international travel industry tries to operate at its pre-pandemic level of operations, simplifying the return-to-service process of turboprop engines will prove to be helpful. Depending on the engine model and the duration of inactivity, the following are considered as best practices for turboprop engine storage:

  • Get rid of the existing fuel and replace it with preservation oil
  • Preserve the oil system
  • Place the desiccant bags in the engine
  • Seal the opening of the engine
  • Perform a desalination wash

2. Keep an Eye on the Engine While in Storage

Before putting the turboprop engine in storage, contemplate and decide whether it'll be operated periodically or if you want to leave it inactive for a while. Making a call about this is important as it impacts the storage procedures and the subsequent actions to take while the engine is in storage.

Running the turboprop engine from time to time might involve much more effort in storage than preservation for a stipulated amount of time. However, it means that the engine can be quickly made ready for operation when needed. It is to be noted that, even if in preservation, the turboprop engine should not be left untouched for months.

The goal of all storage procedures is to safeguard the engine from becoming corroded. To keep humidity in check while storing, make sure desiccant bags are placed inside the engine and humidity indicator for absorption. Moreover, the engine is sealed with the help of a transparent cover. This helps you read the indicator easily.

3. Ensure the Engine Is All Set to Get Back in the Game

When it is time to bring the engine back to service, there are various crucial steps that help in verifying if it is ready to fly again. One way is to ensure that all the sealed openings are reopened and unobstructed. In addition to this, it is also important to make sure that the humidity indicators, moisture barriers, and desiccant bags are removed.

Next, depending on the duration of storage, the engine’s oil and fuel need to be reactivated. A corrosion inspection also has to be conducted, as it is a big concern after a long period of downtime. If any corrosion is found in the engine, proper arrangements for deep cleaning or repairing the affected parts have to be made. Lastly, perform a test run of the turbojet engine.

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