For some reason the pilot has to take off in an emergency or is on a runway too short or maybe they just want more places they can land and takeoff. The single engine plane is already light on fuel and cargo. Could adding Nitrous oxide or richer fuel or something like an afterburner for a piston engine work?

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    $\begingroup$ You could strap a few rockets to the fuselage. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2020 at 1:52
  • $\begingroup$ However you increase the engine's power, via forced induction or oxidizers or other "aftermarket" equipment, to use an automotive term, you risk overheating it exactly when it lacks the cooling airflow of cruise flight. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2020 at 2:06
  • $\begingroup$ Rather than to modify the engine it may be better to add a jet engine or 2 on the wings. Also, there are also STOL kits for planes, which can include canards just behind the nose prop. It may also be possible to mount a more powerful engine (or even a turboprop). But on the spot, it may be better to reduce weight as much as possible, and do a rolling takeoff from the taxiway. If in doubt, consider the consequences of a crash, and what type of planning was done to get into that situation. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2020 at 3:01
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    $\begingroup$ Adding nitrous oxide, or strapping on booster rockets, would take quite a bit of time, which means your "emergency" must have been planned well in advance. That means it's not an emergency: "a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action." If you just want to be able to use shorter runways, there are plenty of STCs for STOL mods for various airplanes. Few if any of them involve engine modification. (Though sometimes a different, more powerful engine is installed.) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Sep 8, 2020 at 3:01
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    $\begingroup$ Besides some sort of Wile E. Coyote ACME style device there's nothing you can do if you're in some sort of remote location and need a boost. Lighten up as much as you can and take off into a strong wind. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Sep 8, 2020 at 8:30

2 Answers 2


That really depends how safely you want to get off the ground.

If you are looking to get in and out of tight airfields using STC'ed parts you may want to consider a STOL kit which can modify the plane such that you can utilize a shorter runway.

There are some airframes that do have horsepower increase modifications available but that takes actual mechanic work and wont really be feasible in your "pinch" scenario.

There are a few aircraft that can be operated with JATO rockets and it looks like it was done at least once on an ercoupe during testing

You could add Nos but then again most pilots prefer their engine to run for the duration of the flight... You would also have to contend with the fact that adding NOS may very well require a direct port bore, which is no small job.

Afterburners don't really apply to internal combustion engines, at least not ones that generate meaningful thrust...


Most methods of increasing engine power would require major modifications to the engine which would require a Supplemental Type Certificate from the FAA. This would include the use of alternative fuels or fuel additives.

A better and much easier method to achieve your goals of shorter runway requirements is to reduce the aircraft weight. This can be achieved by carrying fewer passengers or less fuel. In certain extreme circumstances, you can also lighten the airframe itself by removing unused seats or even doors. But, it may make the aircraft unairworthy.


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