How does Aircraft engine controls System works?

The Aircraft engine controls, located in the cockpit of an aircraft, control and monitor all operations of an aircraft’s powerplant. In this article we will go over the basic controls used on an internal-combustion engine powering a propeller. We will find out what is involved with starting an aircraft and various controls utilized by a pilot, including important gauges that keep a pilot in the know.

The first and most important control is the master switch which consists of two seperate switches, the battery master and the alternator master. These two switches control the “on and off” of electrical power to not only the Engine Control Box but the entire aircraft system. An Ignition Switch is another power control. This switch powers the starter motor and is used during engine start up by sending a high-voltage output to the spark plugs.  

Once power is established, a throttle is used to control the air/fuel mixture being delivered to the Cylinders of an Engine. This control is called an arm mixture control and dictates the power level of an engine. It’s interesting to note that engines often run faster than the propellers they power and this leads us into our next control, propeller controls.

Propeller controls adjust the constant speed unit which governs propeller pitch and keeps an engine’s speed at a steady RPM. An engine’s RPM is monitored and indicated to a pilot by a Tachometer gauge. Other measurement gauges include but are not limited to: the manifold pressure gauge, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges, cylinder head temperature gauge, exhaust gas temperature gauge and more. These gauges assist a pilot in maintaining optimal engine performance and flight safety.

Mixture controls are utilized much like a throttle, regulating the amount of fuel added to an engine’s intake airflow. When air pressure decreases at higher altitudes, mixture controls reduce fuel volume to maintain the correct air/fuel mixture, calibrating correct Rotary Wing speed and ensuring an engine does not run rough or create an overly fuel rich mixture.


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