There are many unsung heroes in aircraft mechanics that are not as exciting as fuel injectors or engines but play an integral role in functionality. One of those is the engine mount. The main role of the aircraft engine mount
is to attach an engine to the fuselage or airframe of a plane. Outside of its initial purpose, an engine mount must also serve two main demands: distribute the weight of an engine, and diffuse vibration and torque generated by the mechanics of the aircraft.
A standard engine mount structure resembles a spider-web with minimalist design. The “web” is made of steel chrome molybdenum, or Chromoly 4130 tubular steel, that is welded together to fit specific engine structures. Types of engine mount vary, but most are made from the same material, and deviate only in shape. Three of the most commonly seen engine mounts are conical, dynafocal, and bed mount.
A standard conical mount has four points to fasten an engine, and four points to secure the mount to the airframe. Other mount designs can include awkward angles and difficult to reach attachment points, but the conical model runs parallel to the aircraft’s firewall. This allows easy access for installment and maintenance. While simple and easy to attach, the conical arrangement does not diffuse vibration and engine torque efficiently and can transmit load to the airframe.
Dynafocal engine mounts are much more capable of distributing torque and vibration from the engine. In this design, the attachment locations are decided based on the center of gravity of the applied engine. Like the conical mount, there are usually four fastener points. The points are rounded about the engine, and the mechanism takes on a ring-like shape. Due to the specificity of the attachment, and the curved shape of the mount, installment and build are more difficult, and are often a higher fiscal investment.
Lastly, a bed mount is often used with diesel engines, and/or rotax engines. Its shape diverges from that of the dynafocal and conical mounts. The engine is still mounted using four attachment points, but it is situated under a crankcase, often beneath the firewall. Most of the mount structure lies beneath the engine, as suggested by the name.
Typically, an engine mount is painted white or a bright color, to make cracks or corrosion more obvious during an inspection. Regular aircraft maintenance checks will include a survey of engine mount condition, and with good reasoning. The engine mount is the only structure keeping the engine securely attached to the aircraft. As a result, the engine mount is designed to withstand extreme conditions.
Some of the stressors experienced by an engine mount include interaction with heat and harsh temperatures, exposure to corrosive materials, and load bearing challenges. Fuse pins fasten the mount and engine to the airframe. Also known as shear pins, the devices are designed to break off under extreme strain or damage, in order to prevent detrimental harm to the wings and body of an airplane. Knowing what engine mount an aircraft might have is entirely based on the specific needs of the vehicle and its manufacturer.
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