NASA-LEAPTech X57-Maxwell

Aircraft Engines Part 3: Future of Aircraft Engines

Throughout this 3-part editorial, I have explored the key developments of the aircraft engine and what has influenced this evolution. Upon reflection, one can see two major overlying themes behind the factors; Firstly, the desire for speed, and secondly, the desire for efficiency. These two factors may seem obvious, but I feel that they can sometimes be overlooked. Continue reading Aircraft Engines Part 3: Future of Aircraft Engines

Lockheed Martin SR-72

Aircraft Engines Part 2: The Jet Age

In the 1920s an RAF cadet by the name of Frank Whittle wrote a short paper entitled Speculation which detailed the shortcomings of reciprocating engines but also showed how an aircraft could be powered by an engine which drew in air, heated it and then expelled it at high speed. Published in the RAF college journal, he also published the basic thermodynamic equations for this type of propulsion. Continue reading Aircraft Engines Part 2: The Jet Age

A North American P-51 Mustang

Aircraft Engines Part 1: Ancient Flight & Early Aircraft

Flight is not a new idea – the concept has been around for millennia. Artefacts have been discovered in both Colombia and Egypt with remarkable resemblances to the aircraft of today, with the inclusion of engineered structures not found in nature (notably tailfins). Indeed, history is littered with myths of flight; Daedalus and Icarus of Ancient Greece, India’s vimana, and the ancient Chinese Emperor Cheng T­ang Li, to name a few. Even some of the greatest minds in history were intrigued by flight. Continue reading Aircraft Engines Part 1: Ancient Flight & Early Aircraft