Your Guide to Gas Turbine Engine Starters

Gas turbine types are diverse and unique in their design, they all share a similar need: a reliable starter system. Unlike reciprocating engines, which have a straightforward engine-start sequence, gas turbines have a more drawn-out process. As a result, the starting devices used are generally more advanced in design. In this blog, we will discuss the gas turbine engine startup sequence and cover the various starter types on the market.

The goal of any starter is to help the engine reach a speed sufficient enough to become self-sustaining. To accomplish this, the starter has direct interaction with the compressor, which it accelerates in order to bring air into the engine to be combusted with fuel. Electric starters consist of a motor, which is regulated by a starter solenoid. Upon aircraft start, DC energy is applied to the solenoid, which activates the motor to begin spinning the compressor. Meanwhile, air-start systems use externally sourced compressed air to rotate the compressor to its required speed. The air used by this system may either come from the APU, a ground-located gas generator, or from the bleed air released by another engine. This starter type is popular because it weighs only a fraction of an electric starter and is completely self-sustainable.

In rare cases, aircraft will utilize combustion starters to drive either the compressor or combustion stage. For example, the AVPIN starter featured a gas-driven turbine starter motor fueled by isopropyl nitrate. In addition, some aircraft use an electrically powered, bleed air-driven turbine that receives air from the APU. In the event of an emergency or other situation that necessitates engine shutoff, restart may be facilitated by dense air driving the compressor or by the APU when at higher altitudes.

One starter that has gained industry-wide reputation for its performance and reliability is the Honeywell Air Turbine Start System (ATSS). These small, lightweight devices utilize pneumatic air to drive the compressor until the compression threshold is met. Serving both commercial and military aircraft, Honeywell has produced over 160 versions to aid a diverse customer population. These devices are incredibly easy to maintain and have a long enough operational lifespan to make them cost-effective. Additionally, they hold up very well when assessed by taking the ratio of horsepower over weight, which allows for more usable space and decreased fuel consumption.

Another long standing gas turbine starter is produced by Parker Hannifin. Their unique product pulls air from four sources, which may be utilized all at once or one at a time, depending on system demands. These sources include the compressed air reservoir, ground compressor-generator, APU, and adjacent engine bleed air. Additionally, their starters are entirely self-contained, including the turbine wheel. As a result, they are less likely to cause widespread damage in the case of failure. Finally, the Parker Hannifin line of air starters is incredibly lightweight and has unmatched reliability, leading to a multifactorial reduction in cost.

Regardless of the starter you choose, ASAP Components has you covered with our expansive inventory and rapid lead times. Browse our various NSN parts catalogs to find components from leading global manufacturers, or use our powerful search engine to locate the exact product you need. Once you have found an item that you are interested in, you may begin our streamlined purchasing process at any time by submitting an Instant RFQ form. After submitting your form, our team members will immediately begin working on a customized solution and will return it to you within 15 minutes or less. Choose ASAP Components for your next project to learn why many satisfied customers use us as their strategic sourcing partner.


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