Experiment: Low Oil Pressure

NAFI NOTAMs #23

Experiment: Low Oil Pressure~Guest Blogger Jon Kotwicki CFII/MEI

When most pilots think about losing oil pressure in a piston engine; they envision the engine violently sputtering as the oil heats up, loses viscosity, and ultimately thins to the point where it can no longer provide adequate lubrication, leading to “metal on metal” contact, quickly seizing the engine and perhaps throwing a rod in the process.

However, this was not our experience. At least, not nearly as soon as we expected. After “losing oil pressure” in our (not airworthy) Cherokee, we managed with a bit of manipulation to the throttle and mixture to keep the engine running for nearly eighteen minutes. While the oil completely drained from the engine in under 10 seconds (simulating an oil cooler line failure); we had several minutes where the engine was still able to produce full power and would technically be able to climb, and several more after that where we would have had enough power for cruise.

Now, we are by no means recommending that you casually continue on to your destination if you lose oil pressure; but rather that you are aware of what loss of oil pressure can look like. If you do begin losing oil pressure, know that you’ll most likely have time. Time to think, time to climb, and just maybe, if there are many fields on the way back to the airport, time to make it home. On the other side of the spectrum, don’t think that just because your engine is running smoothly that it is your oil pressure or temperature gauge that is faulty. If something’s running high or low, it’s time to find a good place to land.

 

 

Jon Kotwicki, CFII/MEI/ATP
NAFI# 219294
https://fly8ma.com/

 

 

 

Blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent, professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinions or position of the National Association of Flight Instructors. NAFI does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Readers should note content may appear in various media, including print, email, enews without further notice.

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