Initial Engine Start Checklist


For reference, the pilot side of the aircraft is the “left” side.

1)                   Safety

a.      Have at least two fire extinguishers available.  Halon is preferred, chemical is okay but presents a cleanup problem, and may damage a running engine.  Water extinguishers may not work very well on a fuel fire.

b.      Have a first aid kit available

c.      A phone should be on hand.

d.      There should not be any people in the rear seats.

e.      The occupants should not wear seat belts during testing.

f.        The aircraft doors are to remain open and unlocked at all times, in the event of an emergency.

g.      The wheels shall be chocked.

2)                   Personnel
A minimum of six people should be present for the initial engine start.  Too many people, and the potential for accidents increases.

a.      BOSS
This is the person in charge of the activities.  He shouldn't be the owner; as he should be objective so that he can spot dangerous situations.  This person has no other physical duties than to direct and observe.  His attention should not be distracted by what is going on during the tests.  The boss is at the side of the pilot during tests.

b.      PILOT
This person will be in the cockpit starting the engine.  Another person (co-pilot) in the cockpit may help observe engine gauges.

c.      OBSERVERS (4)

                                                               i.      Front left, Front right
There should be two people stationed in front of the wings with fire extinguishers.  In the event of a fire, these people have the wing protecting them from accidentally entering the prop arc.  The front left person will observe the lower left engine area.  The front right person will observe the top right engine area.

                                                             ii.      Rear left, Rear right
The rear left person will observe the top left engine area.  The rear right person will observe the bottom right engine area.

3)                   Aircraft

a.      Move the aircraft to a location where fire, and FOD will not be a factor.

b.      Remove bottom cowl, and top cowl.

c.      Remove any plenums or ducts that may obscure observation of the engine.

d.      Ensure that oil and fuel fittings and hoses can be observed.

e.      Remove any panels so that electrical wiring may be observed, or extinguished.

f.        If practical, load the airplane with two to three gallons of fuel.

g.      Verify the nose wheel weight is sufficient to keep the aircraft from tilting backwards onto the propeller.

4)                   Procedure

a.      BRIEFING
Personnel should arrive at the test site and be briefed on procedure.  Other people may be assigned duties, but it should be understood that they should not get into an area of danger, or interfere or distract the personnel.  The Boss is responsible for the safety of other unassigned observers.

The boss will ensure that the aircraft is safe during this period.  He should have the ignition keys, or otherwise ensure that the starter will not engage, or the engine accidentally fire.
The personnel will examine all aspects of the aircraft from wiring connections to loose hardware. 
Each person should try to cover the entire airplane, or have each section of the
aircraft inspected by more than one person.
The brakes shall be tested to be firm, free of leaks and functioning.
The electric fuel pump should be run, and inspected from the back seats for fuel leaks.


                                                               i.      Before a test may begin, the Boss ensures that all observers are at their posts. 
The boss will ask “Clear?”, and should get an “All Clear” response from the four observers to indicate to them that an engine start is about to take place.
After getting a clear acknowledgement from the observers, the Boss will say, “Clear Prop”.
The observers will understand that the engine could start at any time until the boss signals “All Secure.”
The boss will then hand the keys to the pilot, or otherwise enable the engine to be started.

                                                             ii.      During the test, it will not be possible to communicate by voice, so a pre-determined method of signaling shall be agreed upon.  During testing an observer will raise a hand as a signal to stop the test; other signals may be used as fitting.  The Boss will wait for anyone to signal, and will signal to the pilot by tapping him on the shoulder to terminate the test.  The boss will remain within arms reach of the pilot.

                                                            iii.      After a test, the pilot will give the keys to the Boss, or otherwise tell the boss to secure the aircraft, at which time the Boss will give the “All Secure” signal.

                                                            iv.      It is now safe for the observers to approach the aircraft.

5)                   Observing
the job of an observer is to avoid being distracted, or focusing on a single area of the engine.

a.      Initially, the observer should scan the engine quickly for dangerous signs of fuel leaks, oil leaks, or loose parts.  After the engine has been run, his inspection should become more focused, examining nuts and bolts that may be turning from engine vibration.  It is important that a consistent scan be established.  The observer should pay attention to the ground, as a nut or bolt may have fallen from the engine, and signal for an engine stop if anything is found.  Some items to observe are exhaust bolts, control cable fittings, excessively vibrating wires, anything smoking, and unusual smells.

b.      The pilot will monitor oil pressure, and cylinder temperatures to avoid overheating the engine.  The copilot will also be wary of an electrical fire by watching for smoke, or smelling smoke.

6)                   Actions

a.      FIRE
In the event of an engine fire, a signal should first be given to the boss to shut down the engine.  If the fire is not excessive, wait until the engine is stopped before using the extinguisher.  A running engine will ingest the extinguisher chemical, possibly doing more damage to the engine than the fire.  If the fire is critical, care should be taken while the engine is running.

If the P-leads are not connected, and the engine will not stop with mixture control.  A pre-planned action should be taken to starve the engine of air, such as stuffing a towel in the throat of the carburetor.

Terminate the test

Terminate the test