[HOW-TO] Startup your aircraft and prepare it

At the bottom you will find an explanation of why pilots do all those.

Outside check

In real life preparing your aircraft will actually start from the outside, by doing a so called outside check. This step is currently not possible in FS2020, but to describe it, think about going around the airplane, and check visually that the aircraft looks as it should, check that the flaps, ailerons, vertical and horizontal stabilizers do move and are well attached, check that there is no damages on the wings and the propeller or the jet engine not to forget the tires for example to control that they are not too much used.

Fluid checks

After that you would control the fuel (and drain some to control it’s clean and there is no water inside), write down the current fuel level (for your weight and balance calculation) and the oil levels. At this point you would jump in, and switch on the lights to go outside again and control that all the lights and possibly the stall warning (some depends on the electricity) do work.

Document checks

Another step which are not implemented in most flight simulators are the control of the logbooks and other documents, to see for example if any previously reported issues of the aircraft are now fixed, and that you have all the documents allowing you to fly it.

Aircraft check and procedures

Finally we may jump in and prepare to start the aircraft. Here every type of aircraft have a different procedure which usually may include:

  • Parking breaks are in (to avoid that your aircraft rolls alone)
  • Fuel selector on the fullest tank
  • Fuel valve is open
  • Mixture full rich
  • Carb heat off (while carb heat is on, there is no filter of the air, which may push dust inside your engine)
  • Making sure the avionic system is shutdown (to avoid burning it during the startup of the engine)
  • Ensure all the circuits breaker are in (you are allowed to set them once, if they pop again, you must call a mech)
  • Switch on the battery and alternator
  • Switch on the fuel pump
  • Prime your motor (specially for older motors it pushes fuel inside the carb)
  • Start the engine (basically turn the key or push a button)
  • Once the engine runs set a reduced RPM (never run full RPM till the oil is at nominal temp)
  • Control the oil pressure and alternator
  • Switch off the fuel pump

As previously said, those procedures are aircraft specific and you would normally get the procedures with the AFM. Many AFM may be found online if you want to use the right procedure for the simulated aircraft you are using.

After the engine start, a check called “Check after engine start” shall be performed. Again it’s aircraft specific but may include:

  • Check the alternator (battery should charge)
  • Check the annunciator lights (alarms / warning lamps)
  • Switch on the navigation light
  • Switch on the avionic (radio, flarm, gps, etc.)
  • Check and set the flight instruments (altitude / QNH, directional giro)
  • Check the engine instruments (fuel pressure, oil pressure and temp, rpm, etc.)
  • Configure the avionic for your flight (radio frequencies needed, stand by frequency, VOR, GPS and more)

Once those are done, on a controlled airport (one which has a control tower), you will need to ask the permission to taxi, on a non-controlled airport you should announce your intention (for example taxi to the fuel station or the run-up)

The run-up is done usually after 2-5 min the engine is started such that the oil temperature is warm enough to not damage your engine. In most airports there is specific areas where you do them, or you may simply do them in the holding point before entering the runway (RWY).

Run-up are aircraft specific but usually include:

  • Checking oil temperature
  • Setting the RPM to a given value (indicated in the AFM)
  • Checking the magneto (switch to left, check the RPM drop, switch to both, should be back, switch to right, check the RPM drop, switch to left must be mostly the same as left, back to both)
  • Checking the mixture (drop slowly the mixture and see the temp of the cylinder increase, drop more till you see the RPM drops, then back full rich)
  • Checking the carb heat (RPM should drop, and stay stable, if it increases you just saw a carb icing)
  • Setting to idle (min RPM) (motor should not die)
  • Setting back to the low RPM (but not idle)

Once the run-up is done you would need to setup the aircraft for your flight by checking (you may have guessed it it’s aircraft dependent):

  • Fuel pump on,
  • Fuel quantity and fuel selector
  • Fuel valve
  • Mixture (full rich usually may depends on your altitude)
  • Carb heat off
  • Magneto to both
  • Tim check and set for departure
  • Flaps check and set for departure
  • Flight instruments and avionic

We usually do a departure briefing which include:

  • Where you are (airport name)
  • Altitude
  • Runway in use
  • What type of runway it is (concrete or grass and the conditions of the runway)
  • Expected ground roll
  • Runway length
  • Routing (outbound N/S/E/W or some waypoint)
  • Speeds (rotation speed (vrot), best climb angle (vx), best climb rate (vy))

Reasons behind of all those checks

Usually a preparation of an aircraft takes min 20-30 minutes without fueling and without all the weight & balance, navigation plan and other paper works you may have to do. You may wonder why somebody would take so much time just to control the aircraft every time while when you take your car you simply jumps in and drive. The main reason is that if your car has a issue most likely you may stop at the edge of the road, on an aircraft it’s a different story… Therefore it’s much wiser spend time to control that all is fine before starting.

Here basically we check the general outside conditions, the oil levels, the fuel, the electric system and finally the motor.

We also take our time to prepare a few settings used later on either on the departure or on the first part of the flight.

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Please find here the AFM I found around, if you have any others or better versions please contact me via PM.

AFM

Personally I would strongly suggest you to print the checklists such that you have them on hand if you want to operate more like in real life. Or for those which want to invest yet more time, make yourself a couple of sheets with just the checks well formatted.

As said before, if you contact me, I shall improve this table even with your own documents.

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