Signing up could earn you gear and it helps to keep offensive content off of our site.
Visit our Flying shop
Hats off to Peter Garrison. Thanks for another informative article about flying. (April 08, Technicalities, Knot Nuts.) An aircraft enthusiast I am, ever since operating a toy P-51 hung outside a car window--from my car seat--probably 45 years ago.
Peter, please demystify the ramifications and feasibility of my next comment. To introduce my idea, I begin with what a friend once told me about U.S. 155 mm field artillery. He said it could fire a battlefield nuke, but they were to run in the opposite direction when they did, and this: it destroyed the gun to do it.
With modern technology, why isnâ€™t the same principal applied to aircraft engines in life threatening situations?
Nitrous Oxide is often used in car engines to boost power dramatically. It is no stretch to guesstimate it will work the same in air cooled engines. From my limited understanding, it can more than double the power output when engineered and utilized to do so.
To put it in context, if I owned and operated a piston engine aircraft, Iâ€™d want a system installed that could make the engine produce 2 or even 3 times its normal output on demand. That way, in a life threatening situation, say a stall on final or take off, a box canyon, etc., I would have options. Iâ€™m sure any pilot would engage such a system at finding themselves entering an unrecoverable stall on final, even if it would be the last thing that engine did.
Now, such a system is easily within the grasp of current technology to incorporate into our airplanes. If ever â€œthe big red buttonâ€ was pushed, certain flags would go up. Mechanics and everyone else would know to ground the aircraft, if it indeed survived, until a replacement engine was installed. Perhaps the FAA will even sign off on only having said engine completely over hauled.
Next, JATO for survival! Why not? Certainly there are non-combustibles available that produce almost as much power as regular thrust bottles? And if not, an opportunity to escape crashing by being lifted up â€œBy the hand of God,â€ even if one had to hit â€œthe big blue buttonâ€ would still be better than dying.
To expound upon the JATO comment: This isn't intended to be used the same way JATO is employeed, for instance, with a C-130. (Blue Angles support aircraft, Fat Albert.) It may be deduced those applications are used in fully loaded or even over-loaded conditions.Emergency G.A. thrust bottles would not need to overcome the great weight of a fully loaded aircraft at take-off, nor be required to lift the aircraft to astonishing heights. If employeed near the onset of a life-threating stall, the aircraft is only a small amount of speed beneath, or weight over, sustainable flight. Several hundred pounds of up-lift would probably make a great difference. Logic dictates a streamlined, fixed attachment optimized for C.G. 120 pounds of additional weight, (just a guess) for two fully charged bottles, would probably not greatly degrade most G.A. capacities. And in lieu of the great thrust of military applications, general aviation may use a much tamer version for safe recovery of unexpected events.
While there is no no doubt that Nitrous Oxide Injection would dramatically increase engine power, the question is how much additional power and for how long before the engine succumbs the the increased mechanical and thermal stresses.
It is a lot of weight to carry around for what should be an extraordinarily rare need. It is also a lot of temptation to carry around for something that will place an extraordinarily amount of stress on your engine and will likely get used more for fun that true emergencies.
BTW, it will be experimental only, because there ain't no way Lycoming, Continental or the FAA will ever go along with it.
Make it a habit to check your fuel gauges to ensure the tanks are even.
Copyright © 2010 FLYING. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.