Welcome to Engineer Academy where we’re exploring an A to Z of Engineering – everything from acoustics to zoos.
In each episode, we spin the wheel to find out what type of engineering we’ll be exploring with the help of Engers, our engineering expert.
You can listen to the full series of the A to Z of Engineering here.
Let’s take a look at Jet Engineering.
Jet engines are behind some of the most awe-inspiring moments in our planet’s history – from helping us travel away on holiday thousands of miles in a matter of hours – to taking us into space and even landing on the moon.
And the advances keep coming. In 2022, American space agency Nasa launched its most powerful ever rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The 100 metre tall Artemis rocket climbed skyward in a stupendous mix of light and sound. Its objective – to hurl an astronaut capsule in the direction of the Moon and test new systems ahead of astronauts themselves heading to the lunar surface – for the first time since 1972. Pretty cool huh?
And if you’ve been lucky enough to travel on a plane, you’ll know that aircraft engines are – well – powerful and very loud! They need to be – to create enough thrust to lift the aircraft, which can weigh as much as two hundred tonnes. Let’s check out the engineering behind these enormous engines.
Rolls Royce are one of the biggest aircraft engine manufacturers in the world. Their facility at Derby is where engines are assembled and tested, before being sent to aircraft producers such as Boeing and Airbus who attach them to the planes they build. It’s a supersonic turnaround – each engine is built in as little as 30 days.
So what do aircraft engineers do?
Well, they’re experts in the scientific and technological aspects of aircraft. They research, design and develop components and devices used to operate aircraft. They have to consider aerodynamic principles, air safety as well as passenger comfort. And it all starts with design.
Engineers will generate a design of whatever they’re developing using computers, and when happy with their design will create models for testing. Once everything has been successfully tested, it’s time to get building.
Safety is of the utmost importance in aviation. Specialist aviation engineers will conduct tests to measure the performance of their engines and look to improve the safety features.
For example, jet engines can be affected by torrential rainstorms , icy conditions in winter and even by birds flying into the engines. Real life hangar simulations can help them ensure the engines remain safe whatever the conditions.
Environmental impact is a hot topic currently, and so engineers will research and develop ways to make their engines more environmentally friendly. This could be getting them to fly more miles per gallon or use greener fuels that release less carbon. Developing quieter engines is also important – especially for those who live close to airports and under the flight paths.
And the work doesn’t end there. Once a plane is operational, it’s important to perform regular maintenance. Engineers will make routine inspections to service aircraft, replacing worn out component and repairing damage.
There are always new developments in aerospace engineering – from greener fuels to innovative new materials. An example is UltraFan – the world’s largest jet engine. With a combination of carbon titanium blades and a composite casing, this light yet strong engine uses 25% less fuel. Rolls Royce is also developing other low carbon solutions, including an all-electric aircraft.