How has the jet engine evolved?
Full steam ahead
In Charles Parsons’ patent for the steam turbine, he describes a configuration in which a compressor feeds air into a furnace, which produces energy to power a turbine that returns energy back to the compressor – essentially a gas turbine!
Turbojet turned down
English engineer and pilot Frank Whittle submits designs for a turbojet engine to the Air Ministry, which rejects the design for a mathematical error. Whittle gets a patent instead.
With no knowledge of Whittle’s design, German engineering student Hans von Ohain writes a paper proposing a strikingly similar jet engine.
Maiden jet flight
With the support of German plane manufacturer Heinkel, Von Ohain’s improved turbojet design is the first to be built and tested. The first jet-propelled aircraft, the Heinkel He 178, flies in August 1939.
After a decade of setbacks, Whittle finally sees his jet engine take flight on the Gloster E.28/39 – the first British- built jet-powered plane.
Comet takes off
The British-made de Havilland DH 106 Comet becomes the world’s first commercial passenger jet aeroplane sparking a new era of global travel.