Exploring the Four Primary Types of Jet Engines

Since their introduction in the late 1930s, jet engines have revolutionized the world of aviation, continuing to propel aircraft to greater speeds and heights. In all, these remarkable machines come in a variety of types, each with its own unique characteristics and applications. However, four primary types stand out—turbojet engines, rocket engines, turbofan engines, and turboprop engines—all of which we will be exploring in greater detail below.

Turbojet Engines

First utilized successfully in 1937, turbojet engines are the earliest type of jet engines and have been widely used in both military and commercial aviation ever since. Known for their high speeds, even being used in supersonic aircraft, these engines consist of a compressor, combustion chamber, turbine, and nozzle that work in conjunction to power and propel the plane.

As the major source of thrust for a turbojet aircraft, the engine is a complex device which converts air and fuel into mechanical energy via several major steps. First, the compressor takes in air and compresses it before mixing it with fuel in the combustion chamber. Then, the mixture is ignited, producing high-pressure and high-velocity exhaust gasses. Finally, as the gasses pass through the turbine, they drive the compressor, completing the cycle and generating immense thrust.

Rocket Engines

Although technically not jet engines, rocket engines play a crucial role in space exploration and satellite launches, earning them a place among the engines listed here. While they might not be used on aircraft, these engines work on a similar principle, using rockets to propel the plane forward by expelling exhaust gasses at high velocities. However, unlike jet engines, rockets carry their own oxygen supply, allowing them to operate in environments with no atmospheric oxygen like outer space.

Overall, rocket engines operate on the same basic principle of burning propellants. More specifically, they use a combination of liquid oxygen and a fuel source, such as liquid hydrogen or kerosene. As the propellants combust, they release large amounts of energy, propelling the rocket forward. The exhaust gasses are expelled at tremendous speeds as a result, generating the thrust required to overcome Earth's gravity and reach space.

Turbofan Engines

Turbofan engines, also known as fanjet engines, are the most common type of jet engines used in commercial aviation today. Ideal for long-haul flights, these engines combine the best features of turbojet engines and propeller engines, making them highly efficient and quiet. Like the turbojet engine, they employ a few strokes, converting fuel into thrust via a combination of moving parts. During the first stroke, a large fan at the front of the engine draws in a vast amount of air. The air is then split into two streams with one going through the core engine, while the other bypasses the core and flows around it. This bypassed air creates additional thrust, enhancing the engine’s overall fuel-efficiency.

Turboprop Engines

Finally, turboprop engines are a hybrid between a jet engine and a propeller engine, designed primarily for low-speed flights. In general, they are known for their fuel efficiency, making them suitable for short-haul flights and operations in remote areas. As such, these engines are commonly used in small aircraft, regional airliners, and military transport planes, which can benefit from increased efficiency without the need for high-speed performance.

Upon inspection, turboprop engines consist of a gas turbine engine that drives a propeller through a gearbox. When in operation, exhaust gasses are designed to pass through a turbine which drives the compressor and the propeller. The propeller generates most of the thrust by creating a high-velocity airflow, enabling efficient performance at slower speeds.


All the jet engines mentioned here have revolutionized the way we travel and transport cargo worldwide. From the speed and power of turbojet engines to the efficiency of turbofans, each type has found valuable purpose in aviation operations. That said, if you are in need of high-quality parts for your aircraft engine, no matter the type, Asap NSN Distribution invites you to browse our inventory of components and make use of our Instant RFQ service to request competitive quotes for your comparisons. Our team of industry experts are available 24/7x365 to answer customer inquiries, meaning they will reply to RFQ forms in just 15 minutes or less!


December 1, 2022

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