Exploring the Common Types of Aircraft Engines

Engines are the heart of any powered aircraft, providing the power required for takeoff, flight, and landing operations to be carried out. These engines come in various types, each designed to cater to specific aviation needs and operations. 

Piston Engine

Starting with the earliest type of aircraft engine, piston engines work on the same principle as the engine in a car, relying on internal combustion. Piston engines are commonly found in smaller aircraft like general aviation planes and some older models. They operate by igniting an air-fuel mixture within a cylinder, causing a piston to move up and down, which in turn drives a propeller assembly for propulsion. While piston engines are reliable and cost-effective, they lack the power and efficiency required for larger and faster aircraft to fly.

Turboprop Engine

Turboprop engines represent a significant advancement in aviation technology, combining elements of both piston and jet engines to offer improved performance. Turboprop engines use a gas turbine to drive a propeller, allowing them to produce more power than piston engines while maintaining fuel efficiency. These engines are commonly found on regional airliners and cargo aircraft, offering a balance between speed and fuel economy.

Turbojet Engine

The turbojet engine was a revolutionary development in aviation history when it first debuted, opening up new possibilities of flight. It operates on the principle of jet propulsion, expelling a high-speed jet of exhaust gasses to generate thrust. While very efficient at high speeds, turbojet engines are not as fuel-efficient at lower speeds, making them suitable for supersonic military aircraft and early commercial airliners. Additionally, they are rarely used in modern commercial aircraft due to their inefficiency at subsonic speeds.

Turbofan Engine

The turbofan engine is an engine that serves as the standard powerplant for most commercial aircraft today. Turbofan engines combine the principles of both jet and propeller engines, featuring a large fan at the front that compresses air and creates a secondary, slower-moving airflow around the core engine. This design offers excellent fuel efficiency at both high and low speeds, making it ideal for commercial airliners.

Turboshaft Engine

Turboshaft engines are a variant of the gas turbine engine, primarily being used to power helicopters and some types of rotorcraft. Instead of directly producing thrust, turboshaft engines drive a shaft connected to a transmission, which in turn drives rotor blades. This setup provides the necessary power to lift the helicopter off the ground and maintain flight. Turboshaft engines are known for their reliability and ability to operate in a wide range of conditions.


In the world of aviation, the choice of aircraft engine is critical and will depend on the specific requirements of the aircraft in question. Here at Parts Matrix, we offer customers access to a plethora of aviation components that trace back to leading manufacturers that you can trust, all presented with competitive pricing and rapid lead times for your benefit. Take the time to peruse our vast selection as you see fit, and be sure to utilize our online RFQ forms and services to request quotes on items of interest you come across. Once we receive and review a submitted form, a member of our staff will contact you in 15 minutes or less to present a tailored solution for your comparisons.

Posted on October 11, 2023 rod knee



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