When the Wright brothers took flight in 1903, many wondered how a plane could generate the power necessary to propel a 350 ton Boeing 747 into the air and keep it cruising at more than 640 mph. The extraordinary nature of these powerhouses is fascinating, even for those who get to work with them on a daily basis. As such, this blog will cover jet engines, the incredible apparatuses that make flight possible.
The Cost of an Aircraft Engine
Since most aircraft are equipped with engines when purchased, some can say they come as a package deal. There are many different types of aircraft engines, each of which have their own thrust rating. Jet engines in particular can develop nearly 10,000 pounds of thrust or more. Regardless of the engine type, most cost anywhere from 12 to 35 million US dollars.
Heavy Duty Gas Turbine Engines
To generate electricity, some engines utilize 100 ton gas turbine engines that are fueled by natural gasses. For secondary steam turbines, residual heat can be used to boil the water needed for operation.
Servicing an Engine
Every engine must be serviced regularly and adhere to a maintenance schedule after a set number of flight cycles. It is important to note that this varies according to the engine type. For example, the CF6-80E, which powers KLM’s Airbus A330s, requires routine maintenance every 7,300 hour flight cycles and minor maintenance every 200 to 400 cycles.
Biggest Aircraft Engine in Service
General Electric’s GE90-115B has a diameter of 3.25 meters, generates over 115,000 pounds of thrust, and serves as the biggest engine in the world. These powerplants are usually found under the wings of KLM’s Boeing 777-300s, which are named after world heritage sites like Yellowstone National Park.
How Jet Engines Work
Jet engines are similar to piston engines, but with far more complexity. Instead of a design wherein fuel is burned to move pistons through a four-stroke cycle, jet engines are powered by constantly spinning turbine blades. For the turbine blades to spin, there must be a continuous supply of fuel and air to burn.
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