When it comes to aircraft engines, there are two choices a turbo prop and a jet engine. What exactly is the difference, and which is the better engine choice for aircraft?
Obvious differences between the two
The first big and obvious difference between a Turbo Props and Jet Engine is the traditional propellor;
A turbo prop engine has a propeller that you would find on the first aircraft; however, the similarities to those piston engines end there. A modern turbo prop engine produces incredible power to weight compared to earlier era engines, while staying exceptionally light.
Speed and fuel burn
A jet engine also allows a plane to fly higher and at greater speeds, although it burns far more fuel to do so. The logic for airlines is that a jet engine can fly a plane faster between destinations, and thus the aircraft will burn around the same as a slower prop plane. On longer journies, the jet engine becomes more fuel-efficient, which added to the speed, makes the aircraft desirable.
Thus a turbo prop engine is the engine of choice for smaller and light aircraft where fuel capacity and profitability is more limited. By having more efficient engines, an airline can fly a more extended range and utilize more of its fleet for destinations. Generally, aircraft under 100 seats use turboprop engines for this reason.
There are some other inherent advantages of each engine that don’t quite fit into the above.
For one, Turbo prop engines allow an aircraft to take off quicker and land on shorter, non-asphalt runways. This means that regional airports that might not even have a concrete runway (especially in developing areas of the world), are perfectly safe to land on with a turbo prop.
Jet engines also have some advantages, such as quieter operation. This makes them perfect for city airports that have residences nearby (Porter Airways, who exclusively flies turbo props has long pushed for a jet replacement fleet on the basis that they are quieter).
The bottom line is that turbo prop aircraft is perfect for shorter regional routes, while the jet engine is for long haul flights with larger aircraft. Some research has been done on engines that merry both advantages together, but none has yet reached the market.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.