Over the years, humanity has achieved major milestones in engineering. Some of the best examples include the jet engine that powers our planes. Another worthy mention are space rockets that have already landed humans on the moon.
Since both rely on engines to create lift, it makes us wonder which among them is more complex and harder to manufacture. To understand if jet engines are harder to make than rockets, here are some important things to understand.
More countries make rockets than jet engines – If we look at countries that have capabilities to independently manufacture jet engines, the list includes the US, UK, Russia and France. Rest of the countries have to rely on these nations to supply them with jet engines.
In comparison, rocket technology is available with many more countries. Rockets include the ones that are used to launch missiles and others that are used for space exploration. With more countries having rocket technology, it indicates that making rockets is relatively easier than manufacturing jet engines.
Maneuverability – With jet engines, planes can achieve a wide variety of movements. The possibilities are even more with jet engines used with fighter planes. If you have seen fighter jets taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier, it will be easy to understand the versatility of jet engines. And creating such versatility requires highly complex engineering. In comparison, rockets largely have a fixed trajectory.
Fuel efficiency – Jet engines have to be highly fuel efficient to make them viable from a business perspective. Airline companies have to manage costs to remain profitable. Over the years, advanced engineering has helped create highly efficient jet engines. In comparison, fuel savings is not the primary agenda for rockets. They need to carry large amounts of fuel, with limited possibility for fuel savings.
Durability – Jet engines are designed to last for years. With proper maintenance, jet engines can clock tens of thousands of flight hours between major overhauls. This is possible only through complex engineering and use of patented technology and materials. In comparison, rockets are used only once. They are also quite complex, but do not have to worry about things like durability.
Safety – If a jet engine malfunctions, the plane is likely to drop off from the sky. This is why jet engines are put to the harshest tests one can imagine. Jet engines do not easily fail, something that is made possible with extreme engineering. Studies have revealed that travelling in a plane is a lot safer than being launched on a rocket. Astronaut fatality percentage is much higher than that of people travelling in commercial planes.
As is evident from above, jet engines seem to be more complex than rockets. However, both have a different purpose. So, comparing the two may not actually be appropriate. For example, rockets can reach space whereas planes can never achieve that on their own. It would be better that we appreciate both technologies, as they all are aiding our need for innovation, evolution and exploration.