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Aircraft Engine

Aircraft Power Plants

Every powered aircraft will need some form or type of engine to be able to stay aloft. The mission profile of the aircraft more or less dictates which type is used, high level jet transport use gas turbine engines, low level general aviation aircraft are usually equiped with piston engines.

Basically there are two models: the gas turbine and the piston engine as power source for aircraft. Each of these engine models can be subdivided into more specialized types and this will depend on the application and aircraft model where the engine is to be used. Using the buttons below will send you to one of our engine sections.

Several manufacturers and builders have installed gas turbines in general aviation and experimental aircraft. To name but a few: Turbine Legend, Cessna P210 Silver Eagle, Murphy Turbine Moose, Lancair Propjet and others. The piston model is the type that you will see the most in the airplanes we fly. It is most efficient at low levels and if equipped with a turbo, it can operate at the flight levels too.

Prime movers in Aviation



Prime Movers

Gas Turbines & Turboprops

The basic gas turbine. Single or dual spool and the grandfather of all jet turbines. High power delivery, very reliable, low moving parts count (unlike piston models) and the engine of choice for jet transport aircraft. Available in a number of flavors, for helicopters to turboprop aircraft, and most of them will run on JET or kerosine fuel.

The turbofan is a multiblade fan attached to the front. Gives great fuel savings and very low sound emissions compared with the pure turbojet. Some models drive the fan through a gearbox for even greater efficiency: the geared turbofan

  • Turbine Engines & Manufacturers
  • Operating Principles
  • Compressor Airflow
  • Combustion & Exhaust
  • Starting a Turbine
  • Exhaust Gas & Thrust
  • Noise Suppressing
  • Lubrication & Sealing
  • Measuring Performance


For most aircraft builders the choice is limited to gasoline engines from manufacturers like: Lycoming, Continental, Rotax, Jabiru, Subaru, Rotax and Rotec to name but a few. In our section Aero Gas Engines you can read all details about these well known engines.

  • Lycoming Textron
  • Continental & Superior
  • ULPower Aero Engines
  • Jabiru Aircraft Pty
  • Rotec Engineering Pty
  • Limbach Flugmotoren
  • Subaru Conversions
  • D_Motor Belgium


The latest engine development in the last decade or two is the compression ignition engine, also know as a diesel. This engine has no spark ignition system and is basically simpler and easier to operate than a gasoline model.

Fuel consumption is lower and the range of a diesel powered aircraft is usually improved, as is reliability. They are also multi-fuel capable using both diesel and JET fuels in any mixture ratio.

  • Aircraft Diesel Engines
  • Two and Four Stroke Design
  • DeltaHawk Diesel
  • Austro AE300
  • Centurion Aero Engines
  • SMA Safran
  • Superior Gemini 100
  • Wilksch, Diesel Air
  • Diesel Manufacturers

Rotax Bombardier

Because Rotax engines are so popular and widely used we dedicated a separate section to cover them. We also have a page where you may access the most uptodate engine documentation.

  • Rotax Engine Design
  • Operating a Rotax
  • Engine Maintenance
  • Systems Description
  • Operating Limitations
  • Engine Documentation

Electric and Experimental

The last couple of years some development has been going on to design electric power plants for aircraft. Target audience is very light aircraft and powered gliders. A number of companies is busy designing new or improving upon existing engines in the market today.

  • Electric Propulsion
  • Experimental Designs

Written by EAI.

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