The snow might not have stayed but whether you're willing to admit it yet or not winter is coming and the overnight temperatures are starting to drop. 

To start with a silver lining, at least the cooler temperatures mean an increase in performance for us all, well for your helicopter anyway.

Five degrees Celsius might not feel too cold for you standing outside with your warm coffee in hand and woolly toque on your head. If your machine has been sitting outside you can be sure five degrees is cold for an engine that likes to operate at 350
° C or over 700° C for a turbine.

It's time to start thinking about covers and if you are lucky enough to have an engine preheating system it should certainly be getting plugged in now. There are a variety of options available and how long it needs to be preheated will depend on the system and outside temperature. They are worth using, ask any maintenance engineer and they will recommend them to prolong the life of your engine.

If you are shutting down for a while in cooler temperatures it's nice to have a body cover to hold the heat in the engine. Think how hard your vehicle finds a start in the middle of winter when it's cold. It stutters and coughs and limps into life and eventually will lead to a weak battery and failure to start. Your helicopter is no different, except when it refuses to start you might be in the bush and waiting in the cold for hours to be rescued.

Depending on the machine you're flying you might also need to be digging out those winter baffles soon. Refer to your Pilot Operators Handbook (POH) to find out when they should be installed.

Winter might not be everyone's favorite time of year but getting a little heat before startup can make the world of difference to your day, your customers and help keep engine maintenance costs down.