Fact to Know About Jet Engines
To many, aircraft all look the same. It is a hollow metal cylinder with a tail and two wings on either side. There are those however who view aircraft just like they do cars. Engines are a hot topic in the world of mechanics. Depending on the engine, a machine can speed around a racecourse, take off into the sky, or slowly get you from point A to point B. Aircraft are defined in terms of their engines, with the three main types including turbojet engine, turbofan engine and turboprop engine. Before going into detail about the pros and cons of each of these engine types, we should know where they began. Dr. Hans Van Ohain and Frank Whittle are recognized as the co-inventors of the jet engine. The inventors believed that there was a better way to power an aircraft than a piston-based engine. After all, the hardest part is over - aircraft were already in the sky. It was in 1939 that the first jet engine took flight. Now we can look into the different types of engines.
Turbojet engines are the most straightforward of engines (if you can call an aircraft engine straightforward). Aviation combustor, compressor and turbine exhaust all work in unison to propel the aircraft forward. Inlet air is compressed and combined with fuel in the combustion chamber where it is ignited. The expanding drives a turbine, which in turn, supports the engine operation. Finally, the exhaust gases are expelled in such a way that they generate thrust.
Although turbojet engines are reliable, most commercial airlines use aircraft powered by turbofan engines. As the name suggests, these engines specialize in the flow of air around the engine. Additional thrust is produced an internal fan at the front, which directs a secondary airflow around the combustion chamber. The air and fuel mixture is ignited the same was a turbojet engine, however the additional airflow helps to cool the engine down. Modern turbofan engines have two compressors and two fans, doubling the engine efficiency. Turbofan engines can be thought of as the more efficient, streamlined version of the turbojet engine. Fuel consumption and flight costs are lower than turbojet engine aircraft.
If you spot a propeller on the outside of your aircraft, that is a fair indicator of a turboprop engine. The key to a turboprop engine is the reduction gear. The exhaust gases drive a turbine that is connected to a reduction gear. Essentially the aircraft propeller operates at a higher speed than the engine, therefore reduction gear is used to slow down the propeller. There are multiple operating benefits with the turboprop engines. They perform well at slow airspeeds for example during takeoff and landing. The fuel efficiency also rivals that of the turbofan.
The final type of engine is normally found in helicopters or acts as an Auxiliary Power Unit. Unlike the other engines, turboshaft engines drive a shaft that is connected to a turbine rather than a propeller. Turboshaft engines are smaller in size and weight compared to piston engines.
Although they may look the same at a glance, aircraft are all very different under the hood or, in aircraft terms, under the nacelles.
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