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How an Airplane Works

How a Turbofan Works

Lucas Phillips

on 15 April 2011

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Transcript of How an Airplane Works

How an Airplane Works
along with
Details on how to build it. By Lucas Phillips Table of Content
1.Turbo Fans
2.Wing Design Turbo Fan The turbofan is a type of aircraft jet engine based around a gas turbine engine.[1] Turbofans provide thrust using a combination of a ducted fan and a jet exhaust nozzle. Part of the airstream from the ducted fan passes through the core, providing oxygen to burn fuel to create power. However, the rest of the air flow bypasses the engine core and mixes with the faster stream from the core, significantly reducing exhaust noise. The substantially slower bypass airflow produces thrust more efficiently than the high-speed air from the core, and this reduces the specific fuel consumption.[2]

A few designs work slightly differently, having the fan blades as a radial extension of an aft-mounted low-pressure turbine unit.

Turbofans have a net exhaust speed that is much lower than a turbojet. This makes them much more efficient at subsonic speeds than turbojets, and somewhat more efficient at supersonic speeds up to roughly Mach 1.6, but have also been found to be efficient when used with continuous afterburner at Mach 3 and above. However, the lower exhaust speed also reduces thrust at high vehicle speeds.

All of the jet engines used in currently manufactured commercial jet aircraft are turbofans.[citation needed] They are used commercially mainly because they are more efficient and quieter in operation than turbojets. Turbofans are also used in many military jet aircraft, such as the F-15 Eagle and in unmanned aerial vehicles such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Unlike a reciprocating engine, a turbojet undertakes a continuous-flow combustion process.

In a single-spool (or single-shaft) turbojet, which is the most basic form and the earliest type of turbojet to be developed, air enters an intake before being compressed to a higher pressure by a rotating (fan-like) compressor. The compressed air passes on to a combustor, where it is mixed with a fuel (e.g. kerosene) and ignited. The hot combustion gases then enter a windmill-like turbine, where power is extracted to drive the compressor. Although the expansion process in the turbine reduces the gas pressure (and temperature) somewhat, the remaining energy and pressure is employed to provide a high-velocity jet by passing the gas through a propelling nozzle. This process produces a net thrust opposite in direction to that of the jet flow.

After World War II, 2-spool (or 2-shaft) turbojets were developed to make it easier to throttle back compression systems with a high design overall pressure ratio (i.e., combustor inlet pressure/intake delivery pressure). Adopting the 2-spool arrangement enables the compression system to be split in two, with a Low Pressure (LP) Compressor supercharging a High Pressure (HP) Compressor. Each compressor is mounted on a separate (co-axial) shaft, driven by its own turbine (i.e. HP Turbine and LP Turbine). Otherwise a 2-spool turbojet is much like a single-spool engine.

Modern turbofans evolved from the 2-spool axial-flow turbojet engine, essentially by increasing the relative size of the Low Pressure (LP) Compressor to the point where some (if not most) of the air exiting the unit actually bypasses the core (or gas-generator) stream, passing through the main combustor. This bypass air either expands through a separate propelling nozzle, or is mixed with the hot gases leaving the Low Pressure (LP) Turbine, before expanding through a Mixed Stream Propelling Nozzle. Owing to a lower jet velocity, a modern civil turbofan is quieter than the equivalent turbojet. Turbofans also have a better thermal efficiency, which is explained later in the article. In a turbofan, the LP Compressor is often called a fan. Civil-aviation turbofans usually have a single fan stage, whereas most military-aviation turbofans (e.g. combat and trainer aircraft applications) have multi-stage fans. Modern military transport turbofan engines are similar to those which propel civil jetliners.

Turboprop engines are gas-turbine engines that deliver almost all of their power to a shaft to drive a propeller. Turboprops remain popular on very small or slow aircraft, such as small commuter airliners, for their fuel efficiency at lower speeds, as well as on medium military transports and patrol planes, such as the C-130 Hercules and P-3 Orion, for their high takeoff performance and mission endurance benefits respectively.

If the turboprop is better at moderate flight speeds and the turbojet is better at very high speeds, it might be imagined that at some speed range in the middle a mixture of the two is best. Such an engine is the turbofan (originally termed bypass turbojet by the inventors at Rolls Royce). Another name sometimes used is ducted fan, though that term is also used for propellers and fans used in vertical-flight applications.

The difference between a turbofan and a propeller, besides direct thrust, is that the intake duct of the former slows the air before it arrives at the fan face. As both propeller and fan blades must operate at subsonic inlet velocities to be efficient, ducted fans allow efficient operation at higher vehicle speeds.

Duct work on an Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet the increasing diameter of the inlet duct slows incoming air according to the principle of continuity. As the incoming air slows, its pressure increases according to Bernoulli's Principle.Depending on specific thrust (i.e. net thrust/intake airflow), ducted fans operate best from about 400 to 2000 km/h (250 to 1300 mph), which is why turbofans are the most common type of engine for aviation use today in airliners as well as subsonic/supersonic military fighter and trainer aircraft. It should be noted, however, that turbofans use extensive ducting to force incoming air to subsonic velocities (thus reducing shock waves throughout the engine).

Bypass ratio (bypassed airflow to combustor airflow) is a parameter often used for classifying turbofans, although specific thrust is a better parameter.

The noise of any type of jet engine is strongly related to the velocity of the exhaust gases, typically being proportional to the eighth power of the jet velocity. High-bypass-ratio (i.e., low-specific-thrust) turbofans are relatively quiet compared to turbojets and low-bypass-ratio (i.e., high-specific-thrust) turbofans. A low-specific-thrust engine has a low jet velocity by definition, as the following approximate equation for net thrust implies:


intake mass flow
fully expanded jet velocity (in the exhaust plume)
aircraft flight velocity
Rearranging the above equation, specific thrust is given by:

So for zero flight velocity, specific thrust is directly proportional to jet velocity. Relatively speaking, low-specific-thrust engines are large in diameter to accommodate the high airflow required for a given thrust.

Although jet aircraft are loud, a conventional piston engine or a turboprop engine delivering the same thrust would be much louder.

Early turbofans Early turbojet engines were very fuel-inefficient, as their overall pressure ratio and turbine inlet temperature were severely limited by the technology available at the time. The very first running turbofan was the German Daimler-Benz DB 670(designated as the 109-007 by the RLM) which was operated on its testbed on April 1, 1943. The engine was abandoned later while the war went on and problems could not be solved. The British wartime Metrovick F.2 axial flow jet was given a fan to create the first British turbofan.

Improved materials, and the introduction of twin compressors such as in the Pratt & Whitney JT3C engine, increased the overall pressure ratio and thus the thermodynamic efficiency of engines, but they also led to a poor propulsive efficiency, as pure turbojets have a high specific thrust/high velocity exhaust better suited to supersonic flight The original low-bypass turbofan engines were designed to improve propulsive efficiency by reducing the exhaust velocity to a value closer to that of the aircraft. The Rolls-Royce Conway, the first production turbofan, had a bypass ratio of 0.3, similar to the modern General Electric F404 fighter engine. Civilian turbofan engines of the 1960s, such as the Pratt & Whitney JT8D and the Rolls-Royce Spey had bypass ratios closer to 1, but were not dissimilar to their military equivalents.

The unusual General Electric CF700 turbofan engine was developed as an aft-fan engine with a 2.0 bypass ratio. This was derived from the T-38 Talon and the Learjet General Electric J85/CJ610 turbojet (2,850 lbf or 12,650 N) to power the larger Rockwell Sabreliner 75/80 model aircraft, as well as the Dassault Falcon 20 with about a 50% increase in thrust (4,200 lbf or 18,700 N). The CF700 was the first small turbofan in the world to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There are now over 400 CF700 aircraft in operation around the world, with an experience base of over 10 million service hours. The CF700 turbofan engine was also used to train Moon-bound astronauts in Project Apollo as the powerplant for the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle.

Low-bypass turbofan A high specific thrust/low bypass ratio turbofan normally has a multi-stage fan, developing a relatively high pressure ratio and, thus, yielding a high (mixed or cold) exhaust velocity. The core airflow needs to be large enough to give sufficient core power to drive the fan. A smaller core flow/higher bypass ratio cycle can be achieved by raising the (HP) turbine rotor inlet temperature Imagine a retrofit situation where a new low bypass ratio, mixed exhaust, turbofan is replacing an old turbojet, in a particular military application. Say the new engine is to have the same airflow and net thrust (i.e. same specific thrust) as the one it is replacing. A bypass flow can only be introduced if the turbine inlet temperature is allowed to increase, to compensate for a correspondingly smaller core flow. Improvements in turbine cooling/material technology would facilitate the use of a higher turbine inlet temperature, despite increases in cooling air temperature, resulting from a probable increase in overall pressure ratio.

Efficiently done, the resulting turbofan would probably operate at a higher nozzle pressure ratio than the turbojet, but with a lower exhaust temperature to retain net thrust. Since the temperature rise across the whole engine (intake to nozzle) would be lower, the (dry power) fuel flow would also be reduced, resulting in a better specific fuel consumption (SFC).

A few low-bypass ratio military turbofans (e.g. F404) have Variable Inlet Guide Vanes, with piano-style hinges, to direct air onto the first rotor stage. This improves the fan surge margin (see compressor map) in the mid-flow range. The swing wing F-111 achieved a very high range/payload capability by pioneering the use of this engine, and it was also the heart of the famous F-14 Tomcat air superiority fighter which used the same engines in a smaller, more agile airframe to achieve efficient cruise and Mach 2 speed.

Afterburning turbofan Since the 1970s, most jet fighter engines have been low/medium bypass turbofans with a mixed exhaust, afterburner and variable area final nozzle. An afterburner is a combustor located downstream of the turbine blades and directly upstream of the nozzle, which burns fuel from afterburner-specific fuel injectors. When lit, prodigious amounts of fuel are burnt in the afterburner, raising the temperature of exhaust gases by a significant degree, resulting in a higher exhaust velocity/engine specific thrust. The variable geometry nozzle must open to a larger throat area to accommodate the extra volume flow when the afterburner is lit. Afterburning is often designed to give a significant thrust boost for take off, transonic acceleration and combat maneuvers, but is very fuel intensive. Consequently afterburning can only be used for short portions of a mission.

Unlike the main combustor, where the downstream turbine blades must not be damaged by high temperatures, an afterburner can operate at the ideal maximum (stoichiometric) temperature (i.e. about 2100K/3780Ra/3320F). At a fixed total applied fuel:air ratio, the total fuel flow for a given fan airflow will be the same, regardless of the dry specific thrust of the engine. However, a high specific thrust turbofan will, by definition, have a higher nozzle pressure ratio, resulting in a higher afterburning net thrust and, therefore, a lower afterburning specific fuel consumption. However, high specific thrust engines have a high dry SFC. The situation is reversed for a medium specific thrust afterburning turbofan: i.e. poor afterburning SFC/good dry SFC. The former engine is suitable for a combat aircraft which must remain in afterburning combat for a fairly long period, but only has to fight fairly close to the airfield (e.g. cross border skirmishes) The latter engine is better for an aircraft that has to fly some distance, or loiter for a long time, before going into combat. However, the pilot can only afford to stay in afterburning for a short period, before aircraft fuel reserves become dangerously low.

Modern low-bypass military turbofans include the Pratt & Whitney F119, the Eurojet EJ200, the General Electric F110, the Klimov RD-33, and the Saturn AL-31, all of which feature a mixed exhaust, afterburner and variable area propelling nozzle High-bypass turbofan The low specific thrust/high bypass ratio turbofans used in today's civil jetliners (and some military transport aircraft) evolved from the high specific thrust/low bypass ratio turbofans used in such [production] aircraft back in the 1960s.

Low specific thrust is achieved by replacing the multi-stage fan with a single stage unit. Unlike some military engines, modern civil turbofans do not have any stationary inlet guide vanes in front of the fan rotor. The fan is scaled to achieve the desired net thrust.

The core (or gas generator) of the engine must generate sufficient core power to at least drive the fan at its design flow and pressure ratio. Through improvements in turbine cooling/material technology, a higher (HP) turbine rotor inlet temperature can be used, thus facilitating a smaller (and lighter) core and (potentially) improving the core thermal efficiency. Reducing the core mass flow tends to increase the load on the LP turbine, so this unit may require additional stages to reduce the average stage loading and to maintain LP turbine efficiency. Reducing core flow also increases bypass ratio (5:1, or more, is now common).

Further improvements in core thermal efficiency can be achieved by raising the overall pressure ratio of the core. Improved blade aerodynamics reduces the number of extra compressor stages required. With multiple compressors (i.e. LPC, IPC, HPC) dramatic increases in overall pressure ratio have become possible. Variable geometry (i.e. stators) enable high pressure ratio compressors to work surge-free at all throttle settings.

Cutaway diagram of the General Electric CF6-6 engineThe first high-bypass turbofan engine was the General Electric TF39, designed in mid 1960s to power the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy military transport aircraft.[3] The civil General Electric CF6 engine used a derived design. Other high-bypass turbofans are the Pratt & Whitney JT9D, the three-shaft Rolls-Royce RB211 and the CFM International CFM56. More recent large high-bypass turbofans include the Pratt & Whitney PW4000, the three-shaft Rolls-Royce Trent, the General Electric GE90/GEnx and the GP7000, produced jointly by GE and P&W.

High-bypass turbofan engines are generally quieter than the earlier low bypass ratio civil engines. This is not so much due to the higher bypass ratio as to the use of a low pressure ratio, single stage fan which significantly reduces specific thrust and, thereby, jet velocity. The combination of a higher overall pressure ratio and turbine inlet temperature improves thermal efficiency. This, together with a lower specific thrust (better propulsive efficiency), leads to a lower specific fuel consumption.

For reasons of fuel economy, and also of reduced noise, almost all of today's jet airliners are powered by high-bypass turbofans. Although modern combat aircraft tend to use low bypass ratio turbofans, military transport aircraft (e.g. C-17 ) mainly use high bypass ratio turbofans (or turboprops) for fuel efficiency.

Because of the implied low mean jet velocity, a high bypass ratio/low specific thrust turbofan has a high thrust lapse rate (with rising flight speed). Consequently the engine must be over-sized to give sufficient thrust during climb/cruise at high flight speeds (e.g. Mach 0.83). Because of the high thrust lapse rate, the static (i.e. Mach 0) thrust is relatively high. This enables heavily laden, wide body aircraft to accelerate quickly during take-off and consequently lift-off within a reasonable runway length.

The turbofans on twin engined airliners are further over-sized to cope with losing one engine during take-off, which reduces the aircraft's net thrust by 50%. Modern twin engined airliners normally climb very steeply immediately after take-off. If one engine is lost, the climb-out is much shallower, but sufficient to clear obstacles in the flightpath.

The Soviet Union's engine technology was less advanced than the West's and its first wide-body aircraft, the Ilyushin Il-86, was powered by low-bypass engines. The Yakovlev Yak-42, a medium-range, rear-engined aircraft seating up to 120 passengers introduced in 1980 was the first Soviet aircraft to use high-bypass engines.

Turbofan configurations Turbofan engines come in a variety of engine configurations. For a given engine cycle (i.e. same airflow, bypass ratio, fan pressure ratio, overall pressure ratio and HP turbine rotor inlet temperature), the choice of turbofan configuration has little impact upon the design point performance (e.g. net thrust, SFC), as long as overall component performance is maintained. Off-design performance and stability is, however, affected by engine configuration.

As the design overall pressure ratio of an engine cycle increases, it becomes more difficult to throttle the compression system, without encountering an instability known as compressor surge. This occurs when some of the compressor aerofoils stall (like the wings of an aircraft) causing a violent change in the direction of the airflow. However, compressor stall can be avoided, at throttled conditions, by progressively:

1) opening interstage/intercompressor blow-off valves (inefficient)


2) closing variable stators within the compressor

Most modern American civil turbofans employ a relatively high pressure ratio High Pressure (HP) Compressor, with many rows of variable stators to control surge margin at part-throttle. In the three-spool RB211/Trent the core compression system is split into two, with the IP compressor, which supercharges the HP compressor, being on a different coaxial shaft and driven by a separate (IP) turbine. As the HP Compressor has a modest pressure ratio it can be throttled-back surge-free, without employing variable geometry. However, because a shallow IP compressor working line is inevitable, the IPC requires at least one stage of variable geometry.

Single shaft turbofanAlthough far from common, the Single Shaft Turbofan is probably the simplest configuration, comprising a fan and high pressure compressor driven by a single turbine unit, all on the same shaft. The SNECMA M53, which powers Mirage fighter aircraft, is an example of a Single Shaft Turbofan. Despite the simplicity of the turbomachinery configuration, the M53 requires a variable area mixer to facilitate part-throttle operation
Aft-fan turbofanOne of the earliest turbofans was a derivative of the General Electric J79 turbojet, known as the CJ805-23, which featured an integrated aft fan/low pressure (LP) turbine unit located in the turbojet exhaust jetpipe. Hot gas from the turbojet turbine exhaust expanded through the LP turbine, the fan blades being a radial extension of the turbine blades. This aft-fan configuration was later exploited in the General Electric GE-36 UDF (propfan) Demonstrator of the early 80's. One of the problems with the aft fan configuration is hot gas leakage from the LP turbine to the fan.[citation needed]

Basic two spoolMany turbofans have the Basic Two Spool configuration where both the fan and LP turbine (i.e. LP spool) are mounted on a second (LP) shaft, running concentrically with the HP spool (i.e. HP compressor driven by HP turbine). The BR710 is typical of this configuration. At the smaller thrust sizes, instead of all-axial blading, the HP compressor configuration may be axial-centrifugal (e.g. General Electric CFE738), double-centrifugal or even diagonal/centrifugal (e.g. Pratt & Whitney Canada PW600).

Boosted two spoolHigher overall pressure ratios can be achieved by either raising the HP compressor pressure ratio or adding an Intermediate Pressure (IP) Compressor between the fan and HP compressor, to supercharge or boost the latter unit helping to raise the overall pressure ratio of the engine cycle to the very high levels employed today (i.e. greater than 40:1, typically). All of the large American turbofans (e.g. General Electric CF6, GE90 and GEnx plus Pratt & Whitney JT9D and PW4000) feature an IP compressor mounted on the LP shaft and driven, like the fan, by the LP turbine, the mechanical speed of which is dictated by the tip speed and diameter of the fan. The high bypass ratios (i.e. fan duct flow/core flow) used in modern civil turbofans tends to reduce the relative diameter of the attached IP compressor, causing its mean tip speed to decrease. Consequently more IPC stages are required to develop the necessary IPC pressure rise.

Three spoolRolls-Royce chose a three spool configuration for their large civil turbofans (i.e. the RB211 and Trent families), where the Intermediate Pressure (IP) compressor is mounted on a separate (IP) shaft, running concentrically with the LP and HP shafts, and is driven by a separate IP Turbine. Consequently, the IP compressor can rotate faster than the fan, increasing its mean tip speed, thereby reducing the number of IP stages required for a given IPC pressure rise. Because the RB211/Trent designs have a higher IPC pressure rise than the American engines, the HPC pressure rise is less resulting in a shorter, lighter engine. However, three spool engines are harder to both build and maintain.

Ivchenko Design Bureau chose the same configuration for their Lotarev D-36 engine, followed by Lotarev/Progress D-18T and Progress D-436.

The Turbo-Union RB199 military turbofan also has a three spool configuration, as does the Russian military Kuznetsov NK-321.

Geared fan
Geared turbofanAs bypass ratio increases, the mean radius ratio of the fan and LP turbine increases. Consequently, if the fan is to rotate at its optimum blade speed the LP turbine blading will spin slowly, so additional LPT stages will be required, to extract sufficient energy to drive the fan. Introducing a (planetary) reduction gearbox, with a suitable gear ratio, between the LP shaft and the fan enables both the fan and LP turbine to operate at their optimum speeds. Typical of this configuration are the long-established Honeywell TFE731, the Honeywell ALF 502/507, and the recent Pratt & Whitney PW1000G.

Military turbofansMost of the configurations discussed above are used in civil turbofans, while modern military turbofans (e.g. SNECMA M88) are usually Basic Two Spool.

High Pressure TurbineMost civil turbofans use a high efficiency, 2-stage HP turbine to drive the HP compressor. The CFM56 uses an alternative approach: a single stage, high-work unit. While this approach is probably less efficient, there are savings on cooling air, weight and cost. In the RB211 and Trent series, Rolls-Royce split the two stages into two discrete units; one on the HP shaft driving the HP compressor; the other on the IP shaft driving the IP (Intermediate Pressure) Compressor. Modern military turbofans tend to use single stage HP turbines.

Low Pressure TurbineModern civil turbofans have multi-stage LP turbines (e.g. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). The number of stages required depends on the engine cycle bypass ratio and how much supercharging (i.e. IP compression) is on the LP shaft, behind the fan. A geared fan may reduce the number of required LPT stages in some applications.[4] Because of the much lower bypass ratios employed, military turbofans only require one or two LP turbine stages.

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