What Are the Types of Aircraft Gas Turbine Engines?
For an aircraft to achieve sustained flight, it requires some form of thrust. This can be achieved by propulsion systems, and various aircraft may have different systems to achieve this common goal. The aircraft turbine engine is a form of propulsion system that serves a wide variety of aircraft and utilizes gas to produce thrust. While there are different types of aircraft gas turbine engines, each type shares some common aerospace components that define their engine family and provide for their functionality. In this blog, we will provide an overview of the various common gas turbine engines and how they benefit the aircraft they are installed on.
While some components of aircraft gas turbine engine equipment may differ from type to type, all systems have some parts in common that provide for operation. With an aircraft turbine engine, there is often an air inlet, compressor, combustion chamber, turbine sector, exhaust sector, and various other components that execute different processes. To produce thrust, gas turbines force air into the compressor where air and fuel are mixed together. In the combustion chamber, this air and fuel mixture is ignited with spark plugs and the resulting energy is harnessed to power the turbine blades. Across the various types of aircraft gas turbine engines, these parts and processes may differ slightly, but the general purpose remains the same.
- Turbojet Engine:
The turbojet engine is considered the most simple of all gas turbine engines and is the original type in which others evolved from. The turbojet functions similar to most of the other types; air moves into the compressor and mixes with fuel before being combusted to drive the turbine. Nevertheless, this iteration of the gas turbine has a simplistic design yet can reach high speeds and fill little space, making them fairly beneficial for aircraft propulsion. Their disadvantages, however, include that they do not perform well at lower speeds, have great fuel consumption, and are fairly loud.
- Turboprop Engine:
Turboprop engines are fairly similar to the standard turbojet engine, their difference being that turboprops have a propeller that is installed to the front of the system. While the turbojet was developed and tested the years prior to World War II, the turboprop engine had its first flight in 1945. The advantages of the turboprop engine include great fuel efficiency, optimal performance at both low and midrange speeds, and lower operation costs as compared to other engines. The disadvantages of this type of gas turbine engine are that it has lower forward airspeed and low integrity gear systems.
- Turbofan Engine:
The turbofan engine could be considered a combination of what makes the turbojet and turboprop great. By utilizing a secondary airflow, the turbofan is able to generate more thrust for propulsion. Because of this, the turbofan is most widely used for commercial aircraft. Compared to the standard turbojet, the turbofan engine has the benefits of being fuel efficient and is much quieter. Despite this, the turbofan is heavier, more bulky, and does not perform as well at higher altitudes.
- Turboshaft Engines:
With turboshaft engines, what sets them apart is that they use expanding gases from the combustion chamber to drive their turbine, rather than generate thrust. Turboshafts are widely used as auxiliary power unit for larger aircraft and were developed in 1949. Turboshaft engines have a good power to weight ratio, though suffer from noise and low integrity parts.
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