Starting a cold aircraft is not like starting a cold vehicle. Even on a freezing morning, you may not need to spend time warming up your car at all before hitting the road. But an airplane is far different, for many reasons!


A cold-soaked aircraft engine is not only difficult to start, but when it does start, it may result in abnormal damage to the engine, shortened TBO, and potential engine failure. However, oil viscosity isn’t the only factor to worry about. Clearance matters, too! Piston aircraft engines have internal components made of both steel and aluminum, which contract at different rates when cooled and expand at different rates when heated. If your preheating system only warms the oil pan and doesn’t uniformly heat-soak the entire engine it may cause metal-to-metal contact.

Aside from the luxury of a heated hangar, the best way to warm your oil — and ensure there’s room for it to flow when you start up — is to use a multi-point aircraft preheating system, which is standard on all Tanis preheat systems.


Different aircraft engine manufacturers have specific recommendations for preheating procedures. In general, preheating is recommended for aircraft engines that have been cold-soaked to a temperature of freezing or below. Tanis says many of their customers choose to preheat when the outside temperature drops below 50°F/10°C to ease startup, prevent wear and tear on the engine, and reduce run-up times.


A Tanis preheat kit just takes a few hours to install on a general aviation aircraft. Once installed, Tanis preheating systems can be plugged in continuously in ambient temperatures less than 100F/38C. Tanis preheating systems are designed to achieve the maximum benefit within just six hours of use, with data showing a 40 to 50 °F increase within the first two hours. Because a Tanis multi-point system thoroughly heat-soaks the aircraft engine, it keeps all of the metal parts that are above the oil level above the dew point. As a result, no condensation can occur on these parts.

Hartzell Propeller’s line of heated products includes systems for propeller de-ice, as well as piston engine preheaters, turbine engine preheaters, helicopter preheaters, battery, avionics, and cabin preheat systems available from Tanis Aircraft Products.