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Carburetor Air Temperature (CAT) Indicator

 Carburetor Air Temperature (CAT) Indicator

  • Measured at the carburetor entrance, carburetor air temperature (CAT) is regarded by many as an indication of induction system ice formation.
  • Although it serves this purpose, it also provides many other important items of information.
  • The powerplant is a heat machine, and the the temperature of its components, or the fluids flowing through it, affects the combustion process either directly or indirectly.
  • The temperature level of the induction air affects not only the charge density but also the vaporization of the fuel. CAT is also useful for checking induction system condition.
  • Backfiring is indicated as a momentary rise on the gauge, provided it is of sufficient severity for the heat to be sensed at the carburetor air-measuring point. A sustained induction system fire shows a continuous increase of CAT.
  • The CAT should be noted before starting and just after shutdown. The temperature before starting is the best indication of the temperature of the fuel in the carburetor body, and tells whether vaporization is sufficient for the initial firing, or whether the mixture must be augmented by priming.
  • If an engine has been shut down for only a short time, the residual heat in the carburetor may make it possible to rely on the vaporizing heat in the fuel and powerplant. Priming would then be unnecessary.
  • After shutdown, a high CAT is a warning that the fuel trapped in the carburetor will expand, producing high internal pressure.
  •  When a high temperature is present at this time, the fuel line and manifold valves should be open so that the pressure can be relieved by allowing fuel passage back to the tank.
  •  The CAT gauge indicates the temperature of the air before it enters the carburetor. The temperature reading is sensed by a bulb or electric sensor.  
  • In the test cell, the sensor is located in the air intake passage to the engine and, in an aircraft it is located in the ram-air intake duct. The CAT gauge is calibrated in the centigrade scale.
  • This gauge, like many other multi-engine aircraft instruments, is a dual gauge; two gauges, each with a separate pointer and scale, are used in the same case.


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