How Are Gas Turbine Engines Started?

Since their initial release to the wider commercial market, gas turbine engines have radically changed how many aircraft are designed and operated. There are a variety of gas turbine engine types that have seen use over the years, examples including turbojets, turboshafts, and turbofans. While each of these engine types may vary to a degree, they all share some of the same structural elements and operations, such as how they are initially started for operations. In this blog, we will provide a brief overview of how gas turbine engines are started, allowing you to have a better understanding of them.

One of the common parts of gas turbine engines is the engine compressor, which is charged by increasing the pressure of atmospheric air for more optimal fuel-air-combustion. To start the engine, the compressor will first need to be rotated to a speed that allows it to efficiently supply combustion chambers with pressurized air. To do this, the starting system must overcome the inertia of the compressor and any friction loads present, and the system will remain in operation as combustion starts, only disengaging once the engine reaches self-idling speed where operations are self-sufficient.

There are a variety of starting systems available on the market, each of which utilize different resources or methods to carry out operations. One common type is the electric starter, and these systems come in the form of direct-cranking and starter-generator variations. While the direct-cranking generator disengages during operations, the starter-generator system is permanently engaged. Another common starting system is the hydraulic starter, and these are generally found on small gas turbine engines like those used in helicopters. To start the engine, hydraulic starters utilize a geared hydraulic motor and oil pressure supplied from the ground.

 Air-start systems are also widely used, and they consist of systems that rotate the compressor spools through the use of large volumes of compressed air or a geared turbine motor. As compared to electric starters of the same capability, air-start systems are known for being around 25% of the weight. There are various ways in which compressed air can be supplied to the engine, such as through an auxiliary power unit (APU), portable gas generator, or cross-fed bleed air from another engine.

The final set of combustion engine starters consists of combustion starters, a category containing a number of subtypes. For short-haul airliners, most civil aircraft, and some military aircraft, the fuel/air turbine starter is used. This system may be known as an APU, Jet Fuel Starter (JFS), Air Start Unit (ASU), or Gas Turbine Compressor (GTC). These are all small gas turbines that are electrically started, and they supply compressed bleed air to kickstart engine operations. Aside from the fuel/air turbine starter, there are also a number of minor and historical starters that fall under the same category, those of which include AVPIN, cartridge, and internal combustion engine starters.

With knowledge of the various starters that gas turbine engines use, you can better understand how such engines begin their operations. Here at ASAP Purchasing, we can help you secure competitive pricing and rapid lead times on gas turbine engine parts, offering access to top-quality engine compressor parts, fuel system components, electric motor products, and other such items from leading manufacturers. Explore our massive inventory as you see fit, and know that our team of industry experts are always on standby to assist you through the purchasing process however necessary. With AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accreditation, we go above and beyond to ensure that customers are always treated to top-of-the-line services and products. Get in contact with one of our team members today and see why countless customers steadily rely on us for all their various operational needs.

January 12, 2023
December 7, 2022

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