Tag Archives: radial airplane engines

The Cockpit

radial-airplane-enginesThe cockpit for each type of airplane is different, with controls that provide information about the turbine and radial airplane engines, the landing gear, the wings and many other items the pilot must monitor during flight, takeoff, and landing.  Large commercial jets have hundreds of controls in the cockpit, while small planes may have only a few.

Basic Cockpit Features

Basic cockpit features for most planes include seats for the pilot, the cockpit enclosure, and the flight deck.  Whether the craft has a turbine or radial airplane engine, the cockpit enclosure is the typical layout for an aircraft, and most planes have similar enclosures with a windshield, seats and a control panel.  The number of seats depends on the size of the plane, although even in most small plans the cockpit has two seats.  In larger jets, there may be a jump seat used by observers or another member of the flight crew.  The flight deck includes the many displays and controls used for flying the aircraft.  Again, depending on the size of the plane, there may be storage compartments, fire extinguishers, and other items included in the cockpit.

The Flight Deck

Planes offer a flight deck with many components.  The control column includes the yoke, which is positioned directly in front of each pilot. The yoke is used to control pitch (up and down movements) and roll (left and right movements).  The rudder pedals are on the floor, much like gas and brake pedals are on the floor of a vehicle.  The pedals control yaw, which are right/left movements while flying and to steer the aircraft while it is on the ground.

The instrument panel contains all the displays regarding the aircraft’s status during flight.  If the turbine or radial plane engine develops a problem inflight, the instrument panel alerts the pilot so adjustments can be made.  The pedestal, often found between the pilots, contains the throttle and other controls.  In some planes, there are side controls and an overhead panel that are not directly involved in flying, such as air conditioning, cabin pressurization, and communication instruments.

Flight Instruments

There are many instruments used when flying both turbine and radial engine planes, and the instruments found on each plane vary.  However, there are some instruments found in the cockpit of all planes.  The altimeter shows the aircraft’s position above sea-level using atmospheric pressure readings outside the plane.  The altimeter can be adjusted for local barometric pressure to ensure accurate readings.  The attitude indicator shows the aircraft’s attitude in relation to the horizon.  This lets the pilot know if the wings are level and if the nose of the airplane is pointing above or below the horizon.  The attitude indicator is a critical instrument during flight, but pilots are trained to use other instruments as well should the attitude indicator fail.  The airspeed indicator is similar to the speedometer in a vehicle as it shows the speed of the aircraft.  The magnetic compass shows the aircraft’s heading relative to magnetic north, and is used in conjunction with the heading indicator.  The heading indicator, which also displays the aircraft’s heading in relation to magnetic north, but is subject to drift errors, so pilots use a combination of the two instruments.  The vertical speed indicator is also known as the rate of climb indicator, lets the pilot know the rate of climb or descent in feet per minute.

Visit us at www.covingtonaircraft.com for more information about turbine and radial airplane engine overhaul, maintenance and repair.  You can also find us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Aviation Station: Parts of a Plane

Power section tear down in Tunica

One of the first things a pilot learns is the parts of an airplane, from the fuselage to the radial airplane engines to the landing gear.  Knowing the parts of an airplane helps the pilot understand how the plane flies, assists with troubleshooting when there is a problem, and provides a clearer understanding of the scope of required maintenance on the plane.  Although different types of planes have different parts, every airplane contains several main parts that are common.

Fuselage and Cockpit

Like the radial airplane engine, the fuselage and cockpit are crucial parts of an airplane.  The fuselage holds the plane together and is designed to accommodate passengers and cargo.  The fuselage also houses the power and radio systems of the airplane.  The cockpit houses the command and control systems of the airplane.  These controls are used both on the ground and in the air.


The radial airplane engine turns the propeller.  The pilot uses a combination of diameter and pitch of the propeller, as well as the small airplane engine speed to either accelerate or maintain a constant speed.  If there is too little thrust, the plane will slow down.

Power Plant and Undercarriage

Radial airplane engines are the power plant of the aircraft.  The small airplane engines generate thrust and provide power—both hydraulic and electric—to the aircraft.  The undercarriage contains the landing gear, which provides the “legs” of the aircraft when it is on the ground.  Landing gear is used for during takeoff and landing.

Wings and Tail

Air passes over and under the wings, generating most of the lift that keeps the plane airborne.  In addition, the wing reduces drag at the front of the wing, generates lift at the curved part of the wing, and manages airflow with the rear edge.  Inside the wing are slats, flaps and ailerons used as the plane is flying.  Slats, located at the front of the wing, adjust the angle of attack, increasing lift .  Flaps are normally located on the trailing edge of the wing and are used to increase lift at lower speeds, which is particularly important while landing.  Ailerons are hinged sections at the rear of each ring and work asymmetrically.  When the left one goes up, the right one goes down, making the aircraft roll right or left.  Ailerons are used to move an aircraft left or right, and allow a pilot to control or change the roll of the plane.

The tail of an aircraft includes horizontal and vertical stabilizers, elevators, and a rudder.  The horizontal stabilizer maintains stability in flight, acting as a mini-wing at the rear of the airplane.  The vertical stabilizer controls the lateral movement of the plane.  Without lateral control, the plane would slip, increase drag and become uncontrollable.  The elevators are hinged surfaces fitted to the rear of the horizontal stabilizer and work as a pair.  When the elevators are up, the aircraft ascends; when the elevators are down, the aircraft descends.

The rudder of a radial engine airplane works much like the rudder of a boat. When the plane is on the ground, pilots use the rudder to turn the plane in the direction the rudder is turned.  In the air, the rudder coordinates turns that are made by the ailerons.

Visit us at www.covingtonaircraft.com for more information about turbine and radial airplane engine overhauls, maintenance and repair.  You can also find us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

The R-1340: The Pratt & Whitney Radial Engine that started it all

Covington Aircraft firmly believes in the history of aviation (you can’t get to where your going without knowing where you have been).  So, this week, we talk about the modern marvel that is 100 years old, R-1340 Engine, Pratt & Whitney’s first engine.

Mr. Willgoos and Mr. Mead innovate a Modern Marvel


In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge had his inaugural address broadcast over the radio, a first in the United States.  Richard Drew invented scotch tape, making it easier for the world to wrap Christmas presents, in 1925 as well.  However, one of the most important firsts to happen in 1925 was the conception and development of the R-1340 engine, a single-row, nine-cylinder air-cooled radial design.  Brought to life by Andy Willgoos and George J. Mead, the R-1340, which became the cornerstone of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, was discovered in the small backyard garage owned by Mr. Willgoos.

Innovative Design

The difference in the R-1340 engine from other engines was the supercharger or blower section which has remained unchanged since its humble beginnings in 1925.  The blower section is attached to the rear power case and receives the fuel/air mixture from the impeller assembly.  This mixture is delivered to the cylinders via the intake pipes and and then to the crankshaft using a spring loaded gear.  This protects the blower gearing from sudden acceleration or deceleration.

Introduction of Different Blower


The original blower developed by Willgoos and Mead came to be known as a ball bearing blower as it was supported by three ball bearings.  Pratt & Whitney later introduced a plain type blower which does not use ball bearings.  Many believe that the reason for the development of the plain type blower was due to weakness of the ball bearing blowers, but this is not the case, as both types of blowers have good and bad qualities.

Classified as a top-secret design when it was developed in the 1920’s, the R-1340 engine is still as much of a modern marvel today as it was almost 100 years ago, making it one of the aviation industry’s modern marvels.
Covington Aircraft has been overhauling, selling, and maintaining radial engines and turbine engines since 1979. If you need a radial engine part, perhaps for your R-1340, make sure you visit our website and give us a call! Happy Flying!

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