The Two Main Types of Aircraft Engines

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Aviation has come a long way since the Wright Brothers took that first brief flight in Kitty Hawk. Thousands of planes take flight every day for a variety of purposes. Unless you’re flying a glider, your plane needs an engine. There are a wide variety of aircraft engine types but they can all be placed into one of two basic categories.

Reciprocating Engines

Reciprocating engines are the older type and drive propellers that move that plane through the air. Internal combustion engines, similar to those found in a car are sometimes used. Aircraft engines require a high degree of precision. Their parts often have special design requirements Danbury CT, where there is a small airport. Just as with cars, engines are defined by the piston arrangements and may be inline, V-shaped, or radial. There are also rotary engines based on the Wankel principle.

Jet Engines

The newer and much faster type of engine is the jet. Jets move an aircraft by ejecting exhaust at high pressure and speed and work on the action/reaction principle. Jet engines burn fuel at extremely high temperatures and their parts must be able to withstand them. There are three main kinds of jet engines. They are:

  • The Gas Turbine – In this type of jet engine, fuel is burned in gas form and turns a turbine that compresses it. The exhaust is ejected and that is what moves the aircraft forward.
  • The Turbofan – This type of engine employs a large fan that draws air into a compressor and turbine, increasing the density of compressed gas and providing more thrust.
  • The Turboprop – This type of engine uses a turbine and burns fuel at a high rate of compression like other jets but uses the force to turn a propeller that moves the aircraft forward.

Aircraft engines vary but they are all complex pieces of machinery and require parts of extremely high precision and quality.

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