Aircraft can be powered through a variety of ways, most often utilizing internal combustion engines that take advantage of fuel and air mixtures to create the propulsion and thrust needed for flight. While numerous modern aircraft utilize jet engines for their operations, there are still many that rely on propeller assemblies. Propeller aircraft can utilize a number of engine types such as the reciprocating engine, gas turbine engine, or even an electric motor. As such, their versatility has allowed them to benefit a number of aircraft over the years. In this blog, we will discuss the functionality of propeller aircraft, allowing you to best understand their differences as compared to other types.
Propellers are fan-like blades that rotate on an assembly in order to produce propulsive forces. In order for the propeller to rotate, it draws upon engine energy that is transformed into reciprocal motion for the propeller. While the Wright brothers first powered aircraft utilized propellers, such designs have been used to produce lift as early as 400 BC when Chinese children created bamboo flying toys utilizing propellers. Soon after the first powered aircraft flight in 1903, however, propellers rapidly took off in popularity for their implementation on all types of aircraft.
As stated before, propeller aircraft still utilize engines despite not relying on jet engine types. A reciprocating engine, also known as a piston engine, is a common type for light aircraft, and they utilize the compression and combustion of fuel and air mixtures in order to create high amounts of pressure. With the pressure that the piston engine generates, energy is transformed into a reciprocating motion that may be harnessed by the propeller assembly.
Gas turbine engines are a type of internal combustion engine that utilizes the compression of air and gas mixtures to create large amounts of force that is used to drive an internal turbine. With the rotation of the turbine, energy can be produced and harnessed for further compression as well as for driving the propeller assembly. While the reciprocating engine is the most efficient at maximum loads, the gas turbine engine provides high efficiency at maximum power outputs, making it advantageous for certain applications and uses.
While the reciprocating engine and gas turbine engine both serve as the most common choices for propeller aircraft, some may utilize an electric motor for their operations. With an electric motor, electricity is used to drive the propellers in lieu of the combustive forces of ignited fuel and air mixtures. With their design, the electric motor is capable of converting electricity into a reciprocating motion that can be used by the propeller assembly for the means of flight. As compared to the other two engine types, the electric motor assembly is not as powerful for its output. Despite this, utilizing electricity can be much more efficient and clean, thus they can be highly beneficial for certain aircraft that can take advantage of their capabilities.
Despite many aircraft utilizing jet engines for their flight capabilities, propeller aircraft remain popular for many applications. At NSN Unlimited, we serve as a trusted distributor of computer components, IT hardware parts, and aircraft parts that cater to a wide variety of industries and applications. With our market expertise and purchasing power, we leverage competitive pricing for the benefit of our customers, and we can fulfill time constraints utilizing our robust supply chain network. As you explore our various part and manufacturer catalogs, you may request a quote at any time through the submission of an Instant RFQ form. Once received by our staff, they will quickly review and reach out to you within 15 minutes to provide a personalized solution to your needs.
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