Gas-Turbine Engines: An Overview

Most aircraft are powered by a gas turbine engine. Although each engine is made up of many intricate parts, when broken down to their base components, they are relatively simple. A gas-turbine engine’s major components are the compressor, combustion chamber, and the turbine.

Gas turbine engines are popular due to their being very powerful while remaining lightweight. They are similar to reciprocating engines, the type of engine you’ll find in most modern automobiles. Turbine engines are far more expensive than reciprocating engines, but can be much smaller than reciprocating engines of similar power. This blog will serve as a guide through each component as well as their characteristics and functions.


Modern aircraft predominantly use axial-flow compressors. Gas turbines initially used centrifugal compressors, but they are weaker than axial-flow models and far less efficient. In an axial-flow compressor, the blades exert a force on engine fluids with higher pressure on one side of the blades than the other. The compressor works by compressing air in order to decrease its volume so it can more easily flow through the engine.

Combustion Chamber:

After the air leaves the compressor, it is slowed down and split into separate air streams. The smaller of the two streams is funnelled into a part of the engine where fuel is injected and ignited. The larger stream is led into the combustion chamber, reducing the temperature of the turbine’s inlet. Combustion is carried out through a series of cylindrical elements around the engine.


The turbine functions based on the reaction principle with heated gases expanding through multiple one or two-spooled turbines. High performance aircraft engines usually use multiple spools. High temperatures at the turbine inlet make it necessary for turbine blades to be made from special metallic alloys. Blades are subject to incredibly high temperatures and must be cooled by colder air taken from the compressor. 


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