The intricacy of turbine engines is nothing short of an engineering marvel. Just as important as each of the parts that go into a turbine engine are the instruments that monitor the engine. The most important turbine engine instruments are the engine pressure ratio indicator (EPR), torquemeter, tachometer, exhaust gas temperature indicator (EGT), and the fuel flow, engine oil pressure, and engine oil temperature indicators. This blog will look at each of these instruments and explain their place on a turbine engine powered aircraft.
The first instrument, the engine pressure ratio indicator (EPR), indicates the amount of thrust that is being created by a turbofan engine and is used to control the amount of power used for takeoff in many types of aircraft. The EPR is equipped with pressure pickups, a type of conduit in the engine inlet and turbine exhaust. The readings from these pickups are displayed on the EPR gauge on the flight deck, allowing the operator to adjust engine settings when necessary.
The torquemeter is an instrument found in turboprop engines. Just fifteen percent of the thrust produced by a turbine engine comes from pressure exiting the exhaust. Therefore, an engine pressure ratio indicator is not an acceptable indicator of the amount of power being produced. The torquemeter is operated by engine oil pressure controlled by a valve that opens and closes in response to changes in torque. The valve opening and closing adjusts oil pressure flow to a rate proportional to the torque at the propeller shaft. The tachometer measures the engine’s speed in revolutions per minute. Tachometers are calibrated so they can accurately display information on a variety of engine types. The main purpose of the tachometer is the monitor RPM in normal conditions and during engine startup. It is also used to indicate an overspeed (when an engine is operating beyond its limitations) should it occur.
A very important instrument is the exhaust gas temperature indicator, or EGT. The EGT monitors turbine inlet temperature, turbine gas temperature, and turbine outlet temperature. Each of these temperatures is used to determine the temperature of the exhaust gases entering the turbine. Although each of these temperatures is taken from different parts of the engine, they are all related to the temperature of the gases entering the turbine vanes. That is to say, all those temperatures will change as the gas temperature changes. Knowing the temperature is critical in monitoring the reliability of the turbine, so the EGT is a very important instrument.
The fuel indicator denotes the flow of fuel in pounds per hour. It is measured in lb/hr instead of gallons because the weight of a fuel has to be taken into consideration for aerodynamic and performance reasons. The engine’s oil pressure indicator monitors critical areas to protect from engine failure as a result of insufficient lubrication and cooling. The indicator displays the engine oil pump discharge pressure. Oil’s ability to cool and lubricate depends on the temperature of the oil in addition to the amount supplied to necessary areas. The oil temperature indicator displays the temperature of the oil as it enters the engine oil pump. This indicator also provides a helpful indication of whether or not the oil coolant is operating properly.
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