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Microturbine Propulsion for UAVs

  • Magazine Article
  • 19AERP08_03
Published 2019-08-01by SAE International in United States
Language:
  • English

Seventy years ago, military aviation moved from reciprocating engines to vastly more reliable turbo jets and turboprops. Shortly after, the commercial air transport industry followed suit, enabling modern air transport. Today, virtually all large aircraft rely on turbine propulsion, yet small aircraft, both manned and unmanned, have not exploited the advantages of turbines for propulsion.

While UAVs have become integral for both commercial and military aerial missions, the continued use of reciprocating engines has limited the UAV market's ability to reach its true growth potential. The industry has been slow to innovate and develop turbine propulsion systems for small aircraft because it is far more difficult to design and produce high performance small turbines than large ones.