Both amateur and professional pilots share certain personality traits that predispose them to being capable as aviators, although individual pilots can still have preferences regarding aircraft and engine styles that are based on outside factors. These can include such points as:
- Size of aircraft
- Flight styles
- Maintenance concerns
- Tarmac variations
While all of these practical considerations can be highly valid when choosing between radial or turbine engines for an aircraft, many pilots can also have a preference that is simply based on personal taste. The weight of this factor can greatly vary in terms of importance, especially when a pilot is deciding upon a plane that is best suited for personal use, versus a fleet owner deciding upon an investment for the future.
Basic Differences In Function Are Also Differences In Performance
Radial engines such as the R-985 and the R-1340 are common to prop driven planes, and a number of private pilots feel comfortable with these designs based on the performance of the engine and the ability to maintain these radial engines. The basic design can be compared to many types of other combustion engines for everything from automobiles to motorbikes. This is because the engine set up utilizes a relatively simple cylinder and piston array in order to power the crankshaft for the propeller.
The results is that the engine is able to give a higher energy output, while still including space for airflow, which encourages the cooling of the radial engine. This is considered to be a strong safety feature among a number of pilots, since it attends to lowering engine temperatures without the need of a secondary cooling mechanism, and can also reduce extra weight that may need to be figured into the overall structure of the craft when a secondary cooling system is needed.
However, one of the larger detractions that flight enthusiasts can feel about radial engines is the sheer weight of the array, and how this can impact the need to adapt in emergency landing and take-off situation. Yet, the radial design also means that a general background in engineering or mechanics can also allow users to modify and maintain these engines with good regularity. The established mechanisms for power production in these types of engines is often more readily understood, based on the familiar layout, and this can contribute to the confidence and connection that pilots establish with their planes.
Turbine engines, especially the Pratt and Whitney PT6A, may initially appear to be a more complex design, but in reality, these engines are simply using different mechanical principles in order to apply to the aerodynamic industry. By using a separate power source from the turbine and more effective fuel delivery systems, the PT6A is considered by many pilot to be a safer choice that is more versatile than a radial engine. This is also due to the relative lightness of a PT6A as compared to a radial engine, and the ability to adjust rotation impulse in order to accommodate a number of runway features.
While turbine engines do not have the same familiar layout of mechanics, the PT6As do offer a segmented design that makes it simpler to repair the turbine in sections, which can be more cost effective than a full overhaul. As a result, the USAF is currently working towards having all flight mechanics trained on the PT6A, because it can be easy to master once the concepts are understood, and because this engine has such a wide applicability in many military aircraft.
Private pilots and owners of commercial fleets will find that there are a number of benefits to craft with either radial or turbine engines. While commercial owners appreciate the ease of operation and starting for PT6A turbines, some private pilots still opt for radials, since these give a greater sense of truly being in control of flight operations through the ability to feel the engine changes with greater ease.