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 Aircraft Components

piston single aircraft

From the dawn of powered flight, all aircraft were powered by piston (also known as reciprocating) engines until the debut of the first gas turbine engine in August 1939. Piston engines are descendants of steam engines which utilize heat to produce steam pressure in order to generate a rotating motion. Modern piston engines utilize a similar methodology.
In general, piston-powered aircraft are smaller in size than those backed by a turbine engine. Single piston aircraft seat no more than six passengers. They are ideal for relatively short operations of 300 miles or less. On the other hand, turboprop aircraft have larger dimensions with greater seating capacity and are able to store more on-board fuel to conduct flights of at least 1,000 miles. For fuel, piston-powered aircraft tend to use 100 octane low-leaded fuel.
Since they are usually not pressurized, piston-powered aircraft are restricted to service ceilings of 12,000 feet of less unless an oxygen system is used by the pilot and passengers. Turbine-powered aircraft, on the other hand, are actually most efficient at altitudes of 20,000 to 30,000 feet and flying at speeds of 250 to 300 knots. Piston-powered aircraft, being weaker, fly at around 200 knots.
The two most popular manufacturers of piston aircraft engines are Teledyne Continental Motors and Textron Lycoming. Both companies utilize similar designs incorporating comparable technologies and metallurgies. Piston engines from both of them consist of a horizontally-opposed, air-cooled design with fastened aluminum case halves and bolted on cylinders with sandcast aluminum heads attached onto nitride steel barrels. A Continental engine and a Lycoming engine are both integrated with fixed-timed dual magneto ignition systems, valve trains with overhead rocker arms, shrouded hollow pushrods, and hydraulic valve lifters. They also possess comparable compression ratios, comparable RPM (revolutions per minute) red-lines, and comparable power-to-displacement ratios. Piston engines from both Continental and Lycoming boast similar records of reliability and longevity.

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