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Aircraft Superchargers and Turbosuperchargers

in Aircraft Systems

To increase an engine’s horsepower, manufacturers have developed forced induction systems called supercharger and turbosupercharger systems. They both compress the intake air to increase its density. The key difference lies in the power supply. A supercharger relies on an engine-driven air pump or compressor, while a turbocharger gets its power from the exhaust stream that runs through a turbine, which in turn spins the compressor. Aircraft with these systems have a manifold pressure gauge, which displays MAP within the engine’s intake manifold.


On a standard day at sea level with the engine shut down, the manifold pressure gauge will indicate the ambient absolute air pressure of 29.92 “Hg. Because atmospheric pressure decreases approximately 1 “Hg per 1,000 feet of altitude increase, the manifold pressure gauge will indicate approximately 24.92 “Hg at an airport that is 5,000 feet above sea level with standard day conditions.

As a normally aspirated aircraft climbs, it eventually reaches an altitude where the MAP is insufficient for a normal climb. That altitude limit is the aircraft’s service ceiling, and it is directly affected by the engine’s ability to produce power. If the induction air entering the engine is pressurized, or boosted, by either a supercharger or a turbosupercharger, the aircraft’s service ceiling can be increased. With these systems, an aircraft can fly at higher altitudes with the advantage of higher true airspeeds and the increased ability to circumnavigate adverse weather.

518VcjVMo3L._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_Learn more about aircraft and their systems with A Pilot’s Guide to Aircraft and Their Systems by ASA. Pilot-oriented rather than mechanic-oriented, this guide to aircraft systems is designed specifically to help general aviation pilots understand how aircraft systems work so that they can better use them in flight.

 

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