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Aviation Learning Center Document Winter Flying Tips - P-8740-24
Author: FAA Date: 1996
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Takeoffs in cold weather offer some distinct advantages, but they also offer some special problems. A few points to remember are as follows:

  • Do not overboost supercharged engines. This is easy to do because at very low density altitude, the engine "thinks" it is operating as much as 8,000 feet below sea level in certain situations. Care should be exercised in operating normally aspirated engines. Power output increases at about 1% for each ten degrees of temperature below that of standard air. At -40 degree F, an engine will develop 10 percent more than rated power even though RPM and MP limits are not exceeded.
  • If the temperature rises, do not expect the same performance from your aircraft as when it was operated at the lower density altitudes of cold weather.
  • Use carburetor heat as required. In some cases, it is necessary to use heat to vaporize the fuel. Gasoline does not vaporize readily at very cold temperatures. Do not use carburetor heat in such a manner that it raises the mixture temperature barely to freezing or just a little below. In such cases, it may be inducing carburetor icing. An accurate mixture temperature gauge is a good investment for cold weather operation. It may be best to use carburetor heat on takeoff in very cold weather in extreme cases.

If your aircraft is equipped with a heated pitot tube, turn it on prior to takeoff. It is wise to anticipate the loss of an airspeed indicator or most any other instrument during a cold weather takeoff -- especially if the cabin section has not been preheated.

During climbout, keep a close watch on head temperature gauges. Due to restrictions (baffles) to cooling air flow installed for cold weather operation and the possibility of extreme temperature inversions, it is possible to overheat the engine at normal climb speeds. If the head temperature nears the critical stage, increase the airspeed or open the cowl flaps or both.

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