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Running one tank dry. How?

One of the joys of the ME courses in the US is deliberately shutting down an engine in flight. Once unfeathered (not an issue in a single), they start very easily bringing in the mixture from lean cut. And that was a cold engine where we flew feathered for 5-10 minutes.

EGTK Oxford

JasonC wrote:

they start very easily bringing in the mixture from lean cut

You just remind me of that hot start procedure where one is also supposed to start cranking while moving the mixture from cut off towards rich until it starts. That seems to be basically the same thing. In flight the windmilling propeller does the same as the starter on the ground.

I understand “fuel and sparks” now much better.

Frequent travels around Europe

You wait until the fuel pressure drops and the engine runs rough. Than switch the tank with a hand at the boost pump. Nothing to worry but nothing to do when you have other tasks.


Would you not have a massive imbalance, with one tank empty and the other half full? My plane would fly very noticeably “on the p1ss” if I was out of balance by half as much.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I hardly notice it in my airplane, a little bit of rudder trim is required.

Rudder trim for fuel imbalance, really? In my plane you feel 10 gallons difference very much and I use aileron trim to correct that.

But if you don’t have an aileron trim, you need to balance the tanks. Also using a lot of aileron trim costs you fuel, in the extra aileron trim tab drag.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Make sure that the throttle is retarded and not at full when engine comes to life.


On long, multi-leg flights without refuelling facilities, with rented Pa28 and Pa38, ( and not trusting their fuel gauge accuracy) I’ve run a tank in cruise until the engine begins to die. Fuel pump on stops this, and changing tanks is done well before the fuel in the pump was used-up.
It didn’t have a noticeable affect on handling with just one up. I’ve also done it with the rear tank on the DR1050, which has front and rear tanks. Knowing the sound of your engine suffering fuel starvation is valuable – it saved me when the rear tank had a blocked finger-filter.

EGPE, United Kingdom

Does this behaviour also apply for a Rotax 912 engine? I’ve cut the mixture in-flight on a PA28 before to see the propeller windmilling and the engine went back to full power after setting it back to full mixture. I’m not so sure about a Rotax engine as it kinda “feels” different than a Lycoming. Am I mistaken? And if the propeller really stops on a Rotax engine, is it possible to easily turn it on just by using the starter?

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