What Are Air Turbine Starters?

Posted on April 19, 2022 James Williams What Are Air Turbine Starters?

For an aircraft engine to kickstart operations for thrust generation, there often needs to be some type of external system or energy source for starting. Starters may come in varying forms, some being more manually operated while others may be automatic and electrically controlled. Air turbine starters in particular are a common option for various aircraft, capable of providing considerable torque for starting processes while being much lighter than their electric counterparts.

Air turbine starters may vary in their design and construction based on the engine that they serve, but typical designs feature an axial flow turbine that turns a drive coupling through the use of a reduction gear train and starter clutch mechanism. True to their name, air turbine starters require the use of air to kickstart operations, and air is generally supplied from an APU, ground-operated air cart, or an operating engine. For ample starting power, most air turbine starters require a source of 30 to 50 psi, and ducts will work to maintain a minimum pressure.
To begin the starting process with an air turbine starter, air is first supplied under pressure through the starter inlet. From there, air will move into the turbine rotor housing where it will collide with a set of rotor blades. With the use of nozzle vanes that direct air at an angle against the blades, the assembly will begin to revolve as the air’s kinetic energy is harvested. Rotating the rotor assembly allows for the reduction gear train and clutch arrangement to be driven, that of which is a complex assembly containing various planet gears, pinions, valves, clutch mechanisms, and more. Through collaborative operation, this assembly can effectively manage air supply, drive systems, and switch off or disconnect parts when the engine is started and air supply is no longer needed.
While air turbine starters are generally reliable for engine starting, there are various instances in which they can run into issues and will require troubleshooting. When issues arise, it is important to determine what is wrong with the assembly so that a probable cause and remedy can be determined. For instance, a starter that cannot rotate or operate is a major problem, and the cause of this can range from a lack of air supply to a damaged starter drive coupling. As such, users should quickly determine the issue and check areas such as the air supply, cutout switch, drive coupling, or starter to ensure that any aging or defective parts are quickly repaired or replaced.
As air turbine starters can make the difference between a reliable aircraft and one that remains on the ground, starters should be given an appropriate amount of attention when conducting maintenance, repair, or other such operations. It is always important to conduct ample research on repair stations before carrying out MRO servicing, and having a reputable distributor to ensure access to spare parts will always make the job easier. Luckily for you, Aerospace Purchasing is your sourcing solution with over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find parts readily available for purchase.
Aerospace Purchasing belongs to the ASAP Semiconductor family of websites, and we are unmatched in our ability to provide customers time and money savings on even the most hard-to-find parts on the market. Even if you happen to be facing a time constraint, our expansive supply chain network enables us to expedite the shipping process with ease. Take the time to explore our expansive catalogs as you see fit, and our team is always available to assist you however necessary. When you are ready to begin the purchasing process, give us a call or email, and we would be more than happy to assist you however we can!

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