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Encyclopedia > Aircraft engine

The term aircraft engine, for the purposes of this article, refers to reciprocating and rotary internal combustion engines used in aircraft. Jet engines and turboprops are the other common aviation powerplants; while operation differs substantially, the basics here apply to all types. Components of a typical, four stroke cycle, DOHC piston engine. ... Dr. Felix Heinrich Wankel (August 13, 1902–October 9, 1988) was the German inventor of the Wankel engine. ... A colorized automobile engine The internal combustion engine is a heat engine in which the burning of a fuel occurs in a confined space called a combustion chamber. ... Airbus A380 An aircraft is any machine capable of atmospheric flight. ... A Pratt and Whitney turbofan engine for the F-15 Eagle is tested at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, USA. The tunnel behind the engine muffles noise and allows exhaust to escape. ... A schematic diagram showing the operation of a turboprop engine. ... A powerplant can mean: An aircraft engine (usually used in countries other than the U.S.) A power plant (a large facility that uses materials to generate electricity) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...

Contents


Tradeoffs

Engines must be:

  • lightweight, as a heavy engine decreases the amount of excess power available.
  • small and ed; large engines with substantial surface area, when installed, create too much drag, wasting fuel and reducing power output.
  • powerful, to overcome the weight and drag of the aircraft.
  • reliable, as losing power in an airplane is a substantially greater problem than an automobile engine seizing. Aircraft engines operate at temperature, pressure, and speed extremes, and therefore need to operate reliably and safely under all these conditions.
  • repairable, to keep the cost of replacement down. Minor repairs are relatively inexpensive.

Unlike automobile engines, aircraft engines run at high power settings for extended periods of time. In general, the engine runs at maximum power for a few minutes during taking off, then power is slightly reduced for climb, and then spends the majority of its time at a cruise setting—typically 65% to 75% of full power. In contrast, a car engine might spend 20% of its time at 65% power accelerating, followed by 80% of its time at 20% power while cruising. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... In physics, power (symbol: P) is the amount of work done per unit of time. ...


The design of aircraft engines tends to favor reliability over performance. It took many years before the reliability was established to fly over the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean [1]. Engine failure at all stages in flight is a part of flight lessons for student pilots. Forced landings without power are practiced extensively over rural areas until the new pilot is proficient enough to handle such situation during a solo flight. Charles Lindbergh Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. ...


Long engine operation times and high power settings, combined with the requirement for high-reliability means that engines must have large engine displacement to minimize over-stressing the engine. The engine, as well as the aircraft, needs to be lifted into the air, meaning it has to overcome lots of weight. The thrust to weight ratio is one of the most important characteristics for an aircraft engine. A typical 250 hp engine weighs just 15% of the total aircraft weight when installed into a 3000 lb (1,400 kg) aircraft. Engine displacement is defined as the total volume of air/fuel mixture an engine can draw in during one complete engine cycle; it is normally stated in cubic centimetres, litres or cubic inches. ...


Aircraft engines also tend to use the simplest parts and include two sets of anything needed for reliability, including ignition system (spark plugs and magnetos) and fuel pumps. Independence of function lessens the likelihood of a single malfunction causing an entire engine to fail. Thus magnetos are used because they do not rely on a battery. Two magnetos were originally installed so a pilot can switch off a faulty magneto and continue the flight on the other—but, later, dual ignition was found to offer some detonation protection too. Similarly, a mechanical engine-driven fuel pump is often backed-up by an electric one. The ignition system of an internal-combustion engine is an important part of the overall engine system that provides for the timely burning of the fuel mixture within the engine. ... This article or section should include material from Spark gap A spark plug is an electrical device that fits into the cylinder head of some internal combustion engines and ignites compressed aerosol gasoline by means of an electric spark. ... A magneto provides pulses of electrical power to the spark plugs in some gasoline -powered internal combustion engines where batteries are not available, most commonly those in 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines used in small motorcycles, lawnmowers and chainsaws, as well as in most small aircraft and some racing... mechanical fuel pump, fitted to cylinder head Electric fuel pump Petro-Canada Fuel Pump used to transfer fuel at a gas station. ... A magneto provides pulses of electrical power to the spark plugs in some gasoline -powered internal combustion engines where batteries are not available, most commonly those in 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines used in small motorcycles, lawnmowers and chainsaws, as well as in most small aircraft and some racing... A weapons cache is detonated at the East River Range on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan Detonation is a process of supersonic combustion that involves a shock wave and a reaction zone behind it. ...


Two engines are more attractive from a reliability angle than a single one. It is true that by doubling the number of engines, the chance of one failing is at least doubled, but the chance of both engines failing at the same time is quite small. This is why most countries require twin-engined airplanes for commercial passenger transport, with minor exceptions. Many light twin-engined aircraft are designed to be capable of at least a marginal climb on one engine, even carrying the maximum load at take-off. Loss of one engine on a twin-engine aircraft results in a loss of 50% of power available, but 80% of the performance (as measured by climb rate) due to aerodynamic factors.


Another difference between cars and aircraft is that the aircraft spend the vast majority of their time travelling at high speed. This allows aircraft engines to be air cooled, as opposed to requiring a radiator. In the absence of a radiator aircraft engines can boast lower weight and less complexity. Radiator is a common term for several types of heat exchangers. ...


Aircraft operate at higher altitudes where the air is less dense than at ground level. As engines need oxygen to burn fuel, a forced induction system such as turbocharger or supercharger is especially appropriate for aircraft use. This does bring along the usual drawbacks of additional cost, weight and complexity. Forced induction is a term used to describe internal combustion engines that are not naturally aspirated. ... Air foil bearing-supported turbocharger cutaway made by Mohawk Innovative Technology Inc. ... A supercharger (also known as a blower) is an air compressor used to compress air into the cylinders of an internal combustion engine. ...


History

At one time all engine designs were new and there was no particular difference in design between aircraft and automobile engines. This changed by the start of World War I, however, when a particular class of air-cooled rotary engines became popular. These had a short lifespan, but by the 1920s a large number of engine designs were moving to the similar radial engine design. This combined air-cooled simplicity with large displacements and they were among the most powerful small engines in the world. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Combatants Allied Powers: United Kingdom France Italy Russia United States Serbia Central Powers: Austria-Hungary Bulgaria Germany Ottoman Empire Commanders Douglas Haig John Jellicoe Ferdinand Foch Georges Clemenceau Nicholas II Woodrow Wilson John Pershing Wilhelm II Reinhard Scheer Franz Josef I Conrad von Hötzendorf Ä°smail Enver Ferdinand I Casualties... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... The 1920s was a decade sometimes referred to as the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties, usually applied to America. ... Radial engine of a biplane. ...


Both the rotary and radial engine have the drawback of a very large frontal area (see drag equation). As aircraft increased in speed and demanded better streamlining, designers turned to water-cooled inline engines. Throughout WWII the two designs were generally similar in terms of power and overall performance but some mature-design radials tended to be more reliable. After the war, in the USA, the water-cooled designs rapidly disappeared. In physics, the drag equation gives the drag experienced by an object moving through a fluid. ... In fluid dynamics, a streamline is a line which is everywhere tangent to the velocity of the flow. ... Usually found in 4 and 6 cylinder configurations, the straight engine (often designed as inline engine) is an internal-combustion engine with all cylinders aligned in one row, with no or only minimal offset. ... This article is becoming very long. ...


For the smaller application, notably in general aviation, a hybrid design in the form an air-cooled inline, almost always 4 or 6 cylinders horizontally opposed, is most common. These combine small frontal area with air-cooled simplicity, although they required careful installation in order to be effectively cooled, notably the rearmost cylinders. To make repairs practical, each cylinder is individually replaceable, as are each of the accessories (pumps, generator and magnetos). General aviation (abbr. ... Usually found in 4 and 6 cylinder configurations, the straight engine (often designed as inline engine) is an internal-combustion engine with all cylinders aligned in one row, with no or only minimal offset. ... A flat engine is an internal combustion engine with its pistons parrallel to the ground. ...


Throughout most of the history of aircraft engine design, they tended to be more advanced than their automobile counterparts. High-strength aluminum alloys were used in these engines decades before they became common in cars. Likewise, those engines adopted fuel injection instead of carburetion quite early. Similarly, overhead cams were introduced, while automobile engines continued to use pushrods. Aluminum is a soft and lightweight metal with a dull silvery appearance, due to a thin layer of oxidation that forms quickly when it is exposed to air. ... An alloy is a combination, either in solution or compound, of two or more elements, at least one of which is a metal, and where the resulting material has metallic properties. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... Stromberg side-draft carburetor The carburetor, carburettor, or carburetter (see spelling differences), also called carb (in North America) or carbie (chiefly in Australia) for short, is a device that mixes air and fuel for an internal-combustion engine. ... Overhead cam (OHC) piston engines place the camshaft above the cylinder heads and drive the valves or lifters directly instead of using pushrods. ... A pushrod or overhead valve (OHV) type piston engine places the camshaft below the pistons and uses pushrods or rods to actuate lifters or tappets above the cylinder head to actuate the valves. ...


Today the piston-engine aviation market is so small that there is essentially no commercial money for new design work. Most aviation engines flying are based on a design from the 1960s, or before, using original materials, tooling and parts. Meanwhile the financial power of the automobile industry has continued improvement. A new car design is likely to use an engine designed no more than a few years ago, built with the latest alloys and advanced electronic engine controls. Modern car engines require no maintenance at all (other than adding fuel and oil) for over 100,000 km, aircraft engines are now, in comparison and paradoxically, rather heavy, dirty and unreliable. The 1960s decade refers to the years from 1960 to 1969, inclusive. ... Fuel is any material that is capable of releasing energy when its chemical or physical structure is changed or converted. ... km redirects here. ...


Much of the innovation (and most newly constructed planes flying) in the past two decades in private aviation has been in ultralights and homebuilt aircraft, and so has innovation in powerplants. Rotax, amongst others, has introduced a number of new small production engine designs for this type of craft. The smallest of these mostly use two-stroke designs, but the larger models are four-strokes. For the reasons discussed above, some hobbyists and experimenters prefer to adapt automotive engines for their home-built aircraft, instead of using certified aircraft engines. Huntair Pathfinder Mark 1 ultralight at an English airshow Ultralight aviation is a category of recreational flying. ... Also known as amateur-built aircraft, homebuilt aircraft are constructed by one or more persons for whom this is not a professional activity. ... Rotax is an Austrian engine manufacturer, founded in 1920 in Dresden, Germany. ...


Over the history of the development of aircraft engines, the Otto cycle, that is, conventional gasoline powered engines have been by far the most common type. That is not because they are the best but simply because they were there first and type-certification of new designs is difficult. The four-stroke cycle of an internal combustion engine is the cycle most commonly used for automotive and industrial purposes today ( cars and trucks, generators, etc). ... Gasoline, also called petrol, is a petroleum-derived liquid mixture consisting primarily of hydrocarbons and enhanced with benzenes to increase octane ratings, used as fuel in internal combustion engines. ...


Another promising design for aircraft use was the Wankel engine. The Wankel engine is about 1/2 the weight and size of a traditional four stroke cycle piston engine of equal power, and much lower in complexity. In this role the power to weight ratio is king, and the Wankel makes particularly good sense. Furthermore, due to the composition of the engine with an aluminium housing and a steel rotor, unlike a piston engine the engine will not seize when overheated, as the aluminium expands more than the steel; this adds a safety factor for aeronautical use. Considerable thinking on such designs started in the post-war era, but at the same time the entire industry felt that jets, often in the form of turboprops, would power everything from the biggest to smallest designs. In the end little work was actually carried out, much to the chagrin of many. First Wankel Engine NSU KKM 57P Autovision und Forum, Germany Wankel Engine in Deutsches Museum Munich, Germany The Wankel rotary engine is a type of internal combustion engine, invented by German engineer Felix Wankel, which uses a rotor instead of reciprocating pistons. ... The four-stroke cycle of an internal combustion engine is the cycle most commonly used for automotive and industrial purposes today (cars and trucks, generators, etc). ... A schematic diagram showing the operation of a turboprop engine. ...


The diesel engine is another engine design that has been examined for aviation use. In general diesel engines are more reliable and much better suited to running for long periods of time at medium power settings—this is why they are widely used in trucks for instance. Several attempts to produce diesel aircraft engines were made in the 1930s but, at the time, the alloys were not up to the task of handling the much higher compression ratios used in these designs. They generally had poor power-to-weight ratios and were uncommon for that reason. Improvements in diesel technology in automobiles (leading to much better power-weight ratios), the diesel's much better fuel efficiency (particularly compared to the old designs currently being used in light aircraft) and the high relative taxation of gasoline compared to diesel in Europe have all seen a revival of interest in the concept. As of May 2004 one manufacturer, Thielert Aircraft Engines, is already selling certified diesel aircraft engines for light aircraft, and other companies have alternative designs under development. It remains to be seen whether these new designs will succeed in the marketplace but they potentially represent the biggest change in light aircraft engines in decades. See aircraft diesel engine for more details. A Diesel engine built by MAN AG in 1906 Rudolf Diesels 1893 patent on his engine design The diesel engine is a type of internal combustion engine; more specifically, it is a compression ignition engine, in which the fuel is ignited by being suddenly exposed to the high temperature... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The compression ratio is a single number that can be used to predict the performance of any internal-combustion engine. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


See also


The hyper engine was a hypothetical aircraft engine design, an engine that would be able to deliver 1 horsepower per cubic inch (about 46 kW/L) of engine displacement. ... Air safety is a broad term encompassing the theory, investigation and categorisation of flight failures, and the prevention of such failures through appropriate regulation, as well as through education and training. ... List of aircraft engines: // Piston engines Allison V-1710 Alvis Alcides Alvis Leonides Alvis Maenoides Alvis Pelides Armstrong Siddeley Leopard Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar Armstrong Siddeley Panther Armstrong Siddeley Mongoose Armstrong-Siddeley Puma Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah Armstrong-Siddeley Nimbus Beardmore Bentley BR1 Rotary BMW 132 BMW 139 BMW 801 Bramo 323...

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers This list of aircraft is sorted alphabetically, beginning with the name of the manufacturer (or, in certain cases, designer). ... This is a list of aircraft manufacturers (in alphabetic order). ... List of aircraft engines: // Piston engines Allison V-1710 Alvis Alcides Alvis Leonides Alvis Maenoides Alvis Pelides Armstrong Siddeley Leopard Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar Armstrong Siddeley Panther Armstrong Siddeley Mongoose Armstrong-Siddeley Puma Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah Armstrong-Siddeley Nimbus Beardmore Bentley BR1 Rotary BMW 132 BMW 139 BMW 801 Bramo 323... This is a list of aircraft engine manufacturers both past and present. ...


Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation This is a list of airlines in operation (by continents and country). ... This is a list of Air forces, sorted alphabetically by country. ... This is an incomplete list of aircraft weapons, past and present. ... Below is a list of (links to pages on) missiles, sorted alphabetically by name. ... This is a timeline of aviation history. ...

External links

  • Aircraft Gas Turbine Engines and Spray Technology

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