Engine Starting Techniques – what works for you?

Recently, some club pilots have had difficulty starting the engines in the club planes with GMA being particularly tough at times.

If you’ve been successful starting the club aircraft engines recently in the colder weather, we would like to hear about the technique you used.  Sharing knowledge will help fellow pilots who may benefit from your technique and have better success.

Please use the comments below to describe the steps you use successfully to start the engines including the following details:

  • Aircraft ident.
  • Primer (setting & use)
  • Mixture (setting & use)
  • Throttle (setting & use)
  • Starter key (setting & use)
  • Sequence of actions.
  • How successful it works (i.e. works every time, works some of the time, etc.)

Hopefully this will identify what techniques are most successful.

7 thoughts on “Engine Starting Techniques – what works for you?

  1. Luciano Nisi

    1) Pre-checklist complete
    2) Fuel selector on Both
    3) Master on
    4) Mixture rich
    5) Fuel pump on – wait until it stops pumping to ensure fuel in lines.
    6) Prime 4 times, allow 2 sec between pumps to ensure re-fills each time.
    7) Throttle advanced only 1″ – Have found if you over advance it, will flood.
    8) Crank immediately max 5-6 seconds- Waiting too long will leave the primed fuel to sit too long.
    9) Hand on throttle while cranking ready to adjust RPM on start.

    Have used this technique consistently with no issues.

    1) Pre- start checks done
    2) Fuel tanks on both
    3) Mixture rich
    4) Master on
    5) Throttle set to 1-1/2″ – Have found that GMA requires more advance than IUK
    6) Prime 3-4 X (cold weather) wait 2 sec between primes to allow to fill between pumps
    7) Crank engine, if having difficulty starting pushing/pulling throttle slightly (1″) has helped start engine. Only crank for max 5-6 seconds.
    * If you think you have flooded the engine, wait 3 min, push throttle full in, don’t re-prime and crank engine, this should allow air to enter carb and help clear flooded carbs. Some times you have to wait again, re-prime max 3 pumps and attempt to start. If you think the engine is flooded though, try the wait 3 min, throttle full in and crank option, has worked 98% of the time.

    I have never not been able to start either a/c if does not start on initial attempt always get it started on 2nd attempt.

  2. Andy Halychuk


    This procedure works for me: Approved by Dennis AME at Bakerview Av.

    1) Pre start checklists complete
    2) Prime 4 times and secure
    3) Expedite, and advance the throttle once and “Clear prop”
    4) Immediately without hesitation Engage the starter – it’s magic. The theory is, by advancing the throttle, and immediately engaging the starter, this enables the excellerator pump in the up draft carburetor to do its job. This fuel vapour is sucked into the carb. It’s this fine mist that is necessary to start, under all conditions.

    Try it!

  3. George Aung Thin

    I never knew about the throttle exercise. Priming five times sounds like a good idea in cold weather but I always worry about flooding the engine so I don’t go beyond three.
    The main thing I’m concerned with is burning out the starter so I just do a slow count to five while cranking then stop and let it rest if it doesn’t catch.

    1. Mark Thibault

      Are you talking about GMA or IUK?

      I’ve found that with the relatively small primer, IUK requires more primes than GMA’s larger one.

  4. Roger Precious


    Advance the throttle twice, then back to idle position (this may just be a useless good-luck ritual, but it’s part of my routine and I have never had issues starting the aircraft);

    Prime 5 times, pausing briefly before pushing the primer back in.

    Do your “prop clear!” and checklist stuff in advance, so that there is no delay turning the ignition immediately after locking the primer;

    Sometimes I witness users who continue to crank, after the engine shows signs of life. The engaged starter holds the engine back, and it fails to start. Let go of the starter once the engine starts to fire, and try advancing the throttle at that exact moment.

    1. Mark Thibault

      Thanks for your comment, Roger. Interestingly enough in the latest revision of the club’s aircraft checklists, the start sequence was reordered to ensure there was minimal delay after priming before engine start.


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