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Experimental experience of cold starting a spark ignition UAV engine using low volatility fuel

Peter Hooper (School of Engineering, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 3 January 2017




The purpose of this paper is to present results of practical experience of cold starting a gasoline engine on low volatility fuel suitable for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) deployment.


Experimental research and development is carried out via dynamometer testing of systems capable of achieving cold start of a spark ignition UAV engine on kerosene JET A-1 fuel.


Repeatable cold starts have been satisfactorily achieved at ambient temperatures of 5°C. The approximate threshold for warm engine restart has also been established.

Practical implications

For safety and supply logistical reasons, the elimination of the use of gasoline fuel offers major advantages not only for UAVs but also for other internal combustion engine-powered equipment to be operated in military theatres of operation. For gasoline crankcase-scavenged two-stroke cycle engines, this presents development challenges in terms of modification of the lubrication strategy, achieving acceptable performance characteristics and the ability to successfully secure repeatable engine cold start.


The majority of UAVs still operate on gasoline-based fuels. Successful modification to allow low volatility fuel operation would address single fuel policy objectives.



Financial support was provided from UK Ministry of Defence for part of the work covered by this paper.


Hooper, P. (2017), "Experimental experience of cold starting a spark ignition UAV engine using low volatility fuel", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 89 No. 1, pp. 106-111.



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