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Turboshaft
Schematic diagram showing the operation of a simplified turboshaft engine. The compressor spool is shown in green and the free / power spool is in purple.
Part of a series on
Aircraft propulsion

Shaft engines (to drive propellers, rotors, ducted fans, or propfans):

Reaction engines:

A turboshaft engine is a form of gas turbine which is optimized to produce shaft power, rather than jet thrust. In principle, a turboshaft engine is similar to a turbojet, except the former features additional turbine expansion to extract heat energy from the exhaust and convert it into output shaft power.

Turboshaft engines are commonly used in applications which require a sustained high power output, high reliability, small size and light weight. These include helicopters, auxiliary power units, boats and ships, tanks, hovercraft, and stationary equipment.

Contents

Overview

A turboshaft engine contains a gas generator section, consisting of the compressor, combustion chambers with ignitors and fuel nozzles, and one or more stages of turbine. The gas generator's function is to create the hot expanding gases to drive the power section, which consists of more stages of turbines, a gear reduction system, and shaft output. Depending on the design, the engine accessories may be driven either by the gas generator or by the power section.

In most designs the gas generator and power section are mechanically separate so that they may each rotate at different speeds appropriate for the conditions. This is referred to as a free power turbine. A free power turbine can be an extremely useful design feature for vehicles, as it allows the design to forego the weight and cost of complex multi-ratio transmissions and clutches.

The general layout of a turboshaft is similar to that of a turboprop. The main difference is that a turboprop is structurally designed to support the loads created by a rotating propeller, as the propeller is not attached to anything but the engine itself. In contrast, turboshaft engines usually drive a transmission which is not structurally attached to the engine. The transmission is attached to the vehicle structure and supports the loads created instead of the engine. However, in practice many of the same engines are built in both turboprop and turboshaft versions, with only minor differences.

History

The first true turboshaft engine was built by the French engine firm Turbomeca, led by the founder, Joseph Szydlowski. In 1948 they built the first French-designed turbine engine, the 100shp 782. In 1950 this work was used to develop the larger 280shp Artouste, which was widely used on the Aérospatiale Alouette II and other helicopters.

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