How Does a Turbine Engine Work for Helicopters?

Written by william brown
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How Does a Turbine Engine Work for Helicopters?
Helicopters use turbine engines for their high torque, power and reliability. (Helicopter image by Bube from

Turbine engines come in two types. Turbine engines that produce thrust by expelling exhaust gases are called fanjet engines. Turbine engines that use the same exhaust gases to spin a driveshaft are called turboshaft engines. Helicopters use turboshaft engines.

Turbine Engine Compressor Functions

Suck, squeeze, burn and blow are the four steps that make a turbine engine work. A compressor in the engine's front spins fan blades that suck air into the engine and compress (squeeze) the air. This compressed air provides a more efficient combustion.

Turbine Engine Diffuser Function

The air leaves the compressor stage and goes into the diffuser. The diffuser guides the air into the combustion chamber.

Turbine Combustion Chamber Function

Fuel is added in the combustion chamber, and a powerful ignition occurs. This ignition forces the burnt fuel and air mixture through turbine blades, which spin the driveshaft. The gases then exit the exhaust pipe.

Turbine Transmission Function

The turbine transmission reduces the turboshaft's spinning from thousands of revolutions per minute (rpms) to hundreds of rpms. The helicopter's rotor cannot work at thousands of rpms. This speed reduction also increases torque, giving the rotors more lifting ability.

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