Airplanes are often classified according to their method of propulsion. All airplanes use propulsion to move through the air. The way in which they generate this force, however, varies. Many of them use jet engines to generate propulsion. Known as jet aircraft, they are among the most common type of airplane used by commercial airlines.
The Basics of Jet Aircraft
A jet aircraft, also known simply as a jet, is any airplane that generates propulsion from one or more jet engines. Most jets have two or four jet engines. The jet engines are located in even numbers on each side of the jet. If a jet has two jet engines, for instance, each side will feature a single jet engine. If a jet has four jet engines, on the other hand, each side will feature a pair of jet engines.
Jets are characterized by their use of internal combustion engines. These internal combustion engines are similar to those found in cars, trucks and other gas-powered automobiles. During operation, they burn a mixture of air and fuel to generate propulsion. As these elements are forced into the engines’ combustion chambers, they are ignited. The exhaust gases are then released out the back of the engines, which propels the jet forward.
Jet vs Propeller Aircraft
There are also propeller aircraft. Propeller aircraft don’t have jet engines. They receive their namesake from their use of propeller engines. Propeller engines are often powered by fuel and air as well. The difference is that they generate propulsion by spilling a propeller, whereas jet engines produce propulsion via exhaust thrust. When a propeller engine is engaged, it will create a rotary force that spins an attached propeller.
There are different types of jet engines, the most common of which is a turbojet. Turbojet engines essentially combine the benefits of both jet engines and propeller engines. They featured a ducted propeller to maximize propulsion.
What About Electric Aircraft?
A third type of aircraft is electric. Electric aircraft, of course, don’t burn fuel. They are powered by electric engines rather than internal combustion engines. Some electric aircraft use batteries. After the batteries are depleted, they are recharged. Other electric aircraft use solar cells. They feature solar panels on the wings that collect and convert sunlight into usable electricity. Regardless, all electric aircraft are powered by electric engines. They aren’t powered by internal combustion engines, such as those used in jet aircraft.