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Thrust is a reaction force described quantitatively by Newton's third law. When a system expels or accelerates mass in one direction, the accelerated mass will cause a force of equal magnitude but opposite direction, to be applied to that system.The force applied on a surface in a direction perpendicular or normal to the surface is also called thrust. Force, and thus thrust, is measured using the International System of Units (SI) in newtons (symbol: N), and represents the amount needed to accelerate 1 kilogram of mass at the rate of 1 meter per second per second. In mechanical engineering, force orthogonal to the main load (such as in parallel helical gears) is referred to as static thrust.
A fixed-wing aircraft generates forward thrust when air is pushed in the direction opposite to flight. This can be done in several ways including by the spinning blades of a propeller, or a rotating fan pushing air out from the back of a jet engine, or by ejecting hot gases from a rocket engine.The forward thrust is proportional to the mass of the airstream multiplied by the difference in velocity of the airstream. Reverse thrust can be generated to aid braking after landing by reversing the pitch of variable-pitch propeller blades, or using a thrust reverser on a jet engine. Rotary wing aircraft and thrust vectoring V/STOL aircraft use engine thrust to support the weight of the aircraft, and vector sum of this thrust fore and aft to control forward speed.
A motorboat generates thrust (or reverse thrust) when the propellers are turned to accelerate water backwards (or forwards). The resulting thrust pushes the boat in the opposite direction to the sum of the momentum change in the water flowing through the propeller.
A rocket is propelled forward by a thrust force equal in magnitude, but opposite in direction, to the time-rate of momentum change of the exhaust gas accelerated from the combustion chamber through the rocket engine nozzle. This is the exhaust velocity with respect to the rocket, times the time-rate at which the mass is expelled, or in mathematical terms:
Where T is the thrust generated (force), is the rate of change of mass with respect to time (mass flow rate of exhaust), and v is the velocity of the exhaust gases measured relative to the rocket.
For vertical launch of a rocket the initial thrust at liftoff must be more than the weight.
Each of the three Space Shuttle Main Engines could produce a thrust of 1.8 meganewton, and each of the Space Shuttle's two Solid Rocket Boosters 14.7 MN (3,300,000 lbf ), together 29.4 MN.
By contrast, the simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER) has 24 thrusters of 3.56 N (0.80 lbf) each.[ citation needed ]
In the air-breathing category, the AMT-USA AT-180 jet engine developed for radio-controlled aircraft produce 90 N (20 lbf) of thrust. The GE90-115B engine fitted on the Boeing 777-300ER, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "World's Most Powerful Commercial Jet Engine," has a thrust of 569 kN (127,900 lbf).
The power needed to generate thrust and the force of the thrust can be related in a non-linear way. In general, . The proportionality constant varies, and can be solved for a uniform flow:
Note that these calculations are only valid for when the incoming air is accelerated from a standstill – for example when hovering.
The inverse of the proportionality constant, the "efficiency" of an otherwise-perfect thruster, is proportional to the area of the cross section of the propelled volume of fluid () and the density of the fluid (). This helps to explain why moving through water is easier and why aircraft have much larger propellers than watercraft.
A very common question is how to compare the thrust rating of a jet engine with the power rating of a piston engine. Such comparison is difficult, as these quantities are not equivalent. A piston engine does not move the aircraft by itself (the propeller does that), so piston engines are usually rated by how much power they deliver to the propeller. Except for changes in temperature and air pressure, this quantity depends basically on the throttle setting.
A jet engine has no propeller, so the propulsive power of a jet engine is determined from its thrust as follows. Power is the force (F) it takes to move something over some distance (d) divided by the time (t) it takes to move that distance:
In case of a rocket or a jet aircraft, the force is exactly the thrust (T) produced by the engine. If the rocket or aircraft is moving at about a constant speed, then distance divided by time is just speed, so power is thrust times speed:
This formula looks very surprising, but it is correct: the propulsive power (or power available) of a jet engine increases with its speed. If the speed is zero, then the propulsive power is zero. If a jet aircraft is at full throttle but attached to a static test stand, then the jet engine produces no propulsive power, however thrust is still produced. The combination piston engine–propeller also has a propulsive power with exactly the same formula, and it will also be zero at zero speed – but that is for the engine–propeller set. The engine alone will continue to produce its rated power at a constant rate, whether the aircraft is moving or not.
Now, imagine the strong chain is broken, and the jet and the piston aircraft start to move. At low speeds:
The piston engine will have constant 100% power, and the propeller's thrust will vary with speed
The jet engine will have constant 100% thrust, and the engine's power will vary with speed
If a powered aircraft is generating thrust T and experiencing drag D, the difference between the two, T − D, is termed the excess thrust. The instantaneous performance of the aircraft is mostly dependent on the excess thrust.
Excess thrust is a vector and is determined as the vector difference between the thrust vector and the drag vector.
The thrust axis for an airplane is the line of action of the total thrust at any instant. It depends on the location, number, and characteristics of the jet engines or propellers. It usually differs from the drag axis. If so, the distance between the thrust axis and the drag axis will cause a moment that must be resisted by a change in the aerodynamic force on the horizontal stabiliser.Notably, the Boeing 737 MAX, with larger, lower-slung engines than previous 737 models, had a greater distance between the thrust axis and the drag axis, causing the nose to rise up in some flight regimes, necessitating a pitch-control system, MCAS. Early versions of MCAS malfunctioned catastrophically in flight, leading to the deaths of over 300 people in 2018 and 2019.
In mechanics, acceleration is the rate of change of the velocity of an object with respect to time. Accelerations are vector quantities. The orientation of an object's acceleration is given by the orientation of the net force acting on that object. The magnitude of an object's acceleration, as described by Newton's Second Law, is the combined effect of two causes:
A centripetal force is a force that makes a body follow a curved path. Its direction is always orthogonal to the motion of the body and towards the fixed point of the instantaneous center of curvature of the path. Isaac Newton described it as "a force by which bodies are drawn or impelled, or in any way tend, towards a point as to a centre". In Newtonian mechanics, gravity provides the centripetal force causing astronomical orbits.
In physics and engineering, fluid dynamics is a subdiscipline of fluid mechanics that describes the flow of fluids—liquids and gases. It has several subdisciplines, including aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. Fluid dynamics has a wide range of applications, including calculating forces and moments on aircraft, determining the mass flow rate of petroleum through pipelines, predicting weather patterns, understanding nebulae in interstellar space and modelling fission weapon detonation.
A jet engine is a type of reaction engine discharging a fast-moving jet that generates thrust by jet propulsion. While this broad definition can include rocket, water jet, and hybrid propulsion, the term jet engine typically refers to an internal combustion airbreathing jet engine such as a turbojet, turbofan, ramjet, or pulse jet. In general, jet engines are internal combustion engines.
In physics and mechanics, torque is the rotational equivalent of linear force. It is also referred to as the moment, moment of force, rotational force or turning effect, depending on the field of study. The concept originated with the studies by Archimedes of the usage of levers. Just as a linear force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist to an object around a specific axis. Another definition of torque is the product of the magnitude of the force and the perpendicular distance of the line of action of a force from the axis of rotation. The symbol for torque is typically , the lowercase Greek letter tau. When being referred to as moment of force, it is commonly denoted by M.
Specific impulse is a measure of how efficiently a reaction mass engine creates thrust. For engines whose reaction mass is only the fuel they carry, specific impulse is exactly proportional to exhaust gas velocity.
The moment of inertia, otherwise known as the mass moment of inertia, angular mass, second moment of mass, or most accurately, rotational inertia, of a rigid body is a quantity that determines the torque needed for a desired angular acceleration about a rotational axis, akin to how mass determines the force needed for a desired acceleration. It depends on the body's mass distribution and the axis chosen, with larger moments requiring more torque to change the body's rate of rotation.
In classical mechanics, impulse is the integral of a force, F, over the time interval, t, for which it acts. Since force is a vector quantity, impulse is also a vector quantity. Impulse applied to an object produces an equivalent vector change in its linear momentum, also in the resultant direction. The SI unit of impulse is the newton second (N⋅s), and the dimensionally equivalent unit of momentum is the kilogram meter per second (kg⋅m/s). The corresponding English engineering unit is the pound-second (lbf⋅s), and in the British Gravitational System, the unit is the slug-foot per second (slug⋅ft/s).
In aerodynamics, lift-induced drag, induced drag, vortex drag, or sometimes drag due to lift, is an aerodynamic drag force that occurs whenever a moving object redirects the airflow coming at it. This drag force occurs in airplanes due to wings or a lifting body redirecting air to cause lift and also in cars with airfoil wings that redirect air to cause a downforce.
In fluid mechanics or more generally continuum mechanics, incompressible flow refers to a flow in which the material density is constant within a fluid parcel—an infinitesimal volume that moves with the flow velocity. An equivalent statement that implies incompressibility is that the divergence of the flow velocity is zero.
Thrust-to-weight ratio is a dimensionless ratio of thrust to weight of a rocket, jet engine, propeller engine, or a vehicle propelled by such an engine that is an indicator of the performance of the engine or vehicle.
In fluid mechanics, added mass or virtual mass is the inertia added to a system because an accelerating or decelerating body must move some volume of surrounding fluid as it moves through it. Added mass is a common issue because the object and surrounding fluid cannot occupy the same physical space simultaneously. For simplicity this can be modeled as some volume of fluid moving with the object, though in reality "all" the fluid will be accelerated, to various degrees.
The maximal total range is the maximum distance an aircraft can fly between takeoff and landing, as limited by fuel capacity in powered aircraft, or cross-country speed and environmental conditions in unpowered aircraft. The range can be seen as the cross-country ground speed multiplied by the maximum time in the air. The fuel time limit for powered aircraft is fixed by the fuel load and rate of consumption. When all fuel is consumed, the engines stop and the aircraft will lose its propulsion.
In aircraft and rocket design, overall propulsion system efficiency is the efficiency with which the energy contained in a vehicle's fuel is converted into kinetic energy of the vehicle, to accelerate it, or to replace losses due to aerodynamic drag or gravity. Mathematically, it is represented as , where is the cycle efficiency and is the propulsive efficiency.
A reaction engine is an engine or motor that produces thrust by expelling reaction mass, in accordance with Newton's third law of motion. This law of motion is most commonly paraphrased as: "For every action force there is an equal, but opposite, reaction force."
In fluid dynamics, disk loading or disc loading is the average pressure change across an actuator disk, such as an airscrew. Airscrews with a relatively low disk loading are typically called rotors, including helicopter main rotors and tail rotors; propellers typically have a higher disk loading. The V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft has a high disk loading relative to a helicopter in the hover mode, but a relatively low disk loading in fixed-wing mode compared to a turboprop aircraft.
The Cauchy momentum equation is a vector partial differential equation put forth by Cauchy that describes the non-relativistic momentum transport in any continuum.
Blade element momentum theory is a theory that combines both blade element theory and momentum theory. It is used to calculate the local forces on a propeller or wind-turbine blade. Blade element theory is combined with momentum theory to alleviate some of the difficulties in calculating the induced velocities at the rotor.
An axial fan is a type of fan that causes gas to flow through it in an axial direction, parallel to the shaft about which the blades rotate. The flow is axial at entry and exit. The fan is designed to produce a pressure difference, and hence force, to cause a flow through the fan. Factors which determine the performance of the fan include the number and shape of the blades. Fans have many applications including in wind tunnels and cooling towers. Design parameters include power, flow rate, pressure rise and efficiency.
Propeller theory is the science governing the design of efficient propellers. A propeller is the most common propulsor on ships, and on small aircraft.