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Just like everything else, along with the advantages or the good, we have to take the disadvantages or the bad. This also holds true with the turbine engine. The disadvantages of the turbine engine are discussed in the following subparagraphs.

  • Foreign object damage. One of the major problems faced by the turbine engine is foreign object damage (FOD). A turbine engine requires tremendous quantities of air. This air is sucked into the engine at extremely high velocities, and it will draw up anything that comes near the inlet area. The turbine engines used in Army aircraft are fitted with filters around the engine inlet to prevent foreign objects from entering the engine and damaging the compressor vanes. However, even with this precaution, FOD is still a menace to turbine engine operation, as shown in figure 1.8.

Compressor Foreign Object Damage
Figure 1.8. Compressor Foreign Object Damage.

  • High temperatures. In the combustion chamber, the temperature is raised to about 3, 500 F. in the hottest part of the flame. Because this temperature is above the melting point of most metals, proper cooling and flame dilution must be employed at all times to insure that the engine is not damaged.
  • Slow acceleration. The acceleration rate of a turbine engine is very slow in comparison with that of a reciprocating engine. The pilot must be aware of the time lag in the turbine engine acceleration between the instant when power is requested and when power is available.
  • High fuel consumption. Turbine engines are very uneconomical when it comes to the amount of fuel they consume. The Lycoming T53 turbine engine, for instance, uses approximately 1.5 gallons per minute of fuel. Compare it to a reciprocating engine of approximately the same horsepower which has a fuel consumption rate of 1 gallon per minute.
  • Cost. The initial cost of a turbine engine is very high when compared to the cost of a reciprocating engine. For example the T53-L-13B engine costs about $63,000, and the cost of a reciprocating engine of approximately the same horsepower is $20,000.

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015