Jet engine vs propeller engine. Which is safer?

Is it safer to fly with an aircraft that has jet engines or an aircraft with propeller engines, and why?

Update:

Propeller engines are simpler. Isn't this a factor in favor of propeller?

Update 2:

Propeller engines are simpler. Isn't this a factor in favor of propeller?

14 Answers

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  • John R
    Lv 7
    7 years ago
    Best Answer

    For the record, disregard Kirk, he has not a clue. Jets do not turn 100,000 RPM, and commercial airliners glide so well often the problem is to get them to descend quickly when needed.

    Unless you are talking about a 70 year old DC3 flying cargo into the bush, all "prop" airliners you will see are turboprops, basically the same engine that powers a jet, but turning a prop instead.

    A turbofan can fly higher (and faster) than a turboprop, so there is the ability to avoid a little more of the weather, but turboprops normally require less runway to takeoff and land and burn less fuel at lower altitudes. As far as basic safety goes, there's not a huge advantage ether way.

    The real question is not jet vs prop, it's piston vs turbine. A turbine engine, whether in a turbofan (a jet) or a turboprop, is simpler and more reliable than a piston engine. In small personal planes, twin engine piston planes are almost extinct, being replaced in the market by single engine turboprops. Small twin engine planes, like the Cessna 310, have a worse safety record than single engine planes after an engine failure.

    A single engine plane, whether piston or turbine, is required to have a pretty low glide and landing speed, so if the engine quits you have a good chance of making a safe landing. It turns out having one turbine engine that might fail once every 2,000,000 hours is safer than having 2 that might fail once in every 100,000 hours.

    As to your edit, there is no such thing as a "propeller engine" - you can use any type of engine or motor that spins to turn a prop. A turbine spinning a prop is much the same as one spinning a fan in a jet, or a rotor in a helicopter. Did you know that the core of the jet engines they use in "jet dragsters" usually do not come out of jet planes, but out of helicopters?

    A turbine engine is basically a set of spinning disks, mechanically much simpler that a piston engine with parts moving back and forth, a motion that must be converted to a rotary motion, and with valves that must open and close thousands of time a second.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Kirk,

    How many engines does the F-35 Lightning II have? (1) ONE (1).

    When Navy jets first came on the scene in the 40's they were less reliable and more prone to failure or fly apart. It was New Tech that the majority of the Top Navy Brass didn't quite trust. Like the Army Brass didn't trust Billy Mitchell in the '20 about Battleships versus the airplane. We know who was on the right side of history on that one. Anyway, the brass trusted what they knew and that was the Prop. They were just about to max out the capabilities of the prop engine, hence the turboprop in the 40's and the speed of sound was still some years away. You can get a multi prop aircraft up to 600 MPH if u wanted. But as time went by the jet became much more reliable to what we have today. You ask any engineer from Pratt and Whitney, Rolls Royce or GE and they will tell you that the jet engines on commercial airliners today are so reliable is that you could permanently bolt them onto the wing of an aircraft and never take it off. That’s how statistically low the failure rate is. One GE engine produces more thrust from a B-787 than 3 did on the first B-747. With an 18-39% fuel savings.

    Later

    AG

  • 7 years ago

    Actually, propeller aircraft are a bit more complex.

    On the one hand, you can have turbo-prop, where something that looks like a modified jet engine is powering the propeller (as opposed to a low pressure fan in the case of turbofans).

    So you essentially have the same complexity of engine, but on top, you have the propeller, which often will have variable pitch control.

    In that case of pilot's involvement, the turboprop will have what is called condition handle on top of the throttle. Again, more stuff to do from the pilot point of view.

    And propeller aircraft would have side wash, due to the vorticity of the flux of air that went trough the propeller; this would make aircraft tend to veer to a side, something that can be compounded further when operating with a cross wind.

    Go to a piston engine as opposed to a turbine to power the propeller, and the engine may get a slightly lower par count, but there are more different parts, each having its own requirement and tolerance (while in the case of a turbine, all the blades on a given rotor are identical).

    Although 'simpler' in the number of parts, reciprocal internal combustion engines are actually more complex (with the exception of the Wankel).

  • 3 years ago

    Jet Propeller

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  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    Not sure about "safe". Turbine engines are longer lasting and less prone to complete catastrophic failure. Turbines power propellers too. Reciprocating engines fail more often. Most failures of recips or jets can be seen long before an in flight shut down is required. As long as the operator of the engine (pilot) is paying attention to his instruments, and has some knowledge of the operation of the engines, there should NEVER be an in flight shut down, unless there is an outside influence. Bird strike/ingestion, collision etc. In 50 years as a mechanic I've never seen an engine that didn't tell the operator it was about to fail. The operators didn't always pay attention.

  • 7 years ago

    Jets are more safer. They say a single engine jet is safer than multi propeller engine.

  • 7 years ago

    they are both very safe, I learned to fly in propeller, over 1250hrs never any problems, never actually flown a jet engine but you don't see many story of any of them going wrong, and more often than not when something does go wrong its not because it is a jet engine vs propeller

  • 7 years ago

    well there is a reason they are put on different types of aircraft! When going long distances you need more thrust to get to a higher altitude and for a long time, there's the reason we invented jet engines! Now think what would happen when you put a jet engine on a smaller aircraft going a short distance, non-used speed, and a lot of fuel consumption!

    Propellers- Where made for short distances! What would happen if you put propellers on an large long range aircraft- you'll go slower, it's surely possible to fly but you'll put on like 4, those for would be undergoing so much stress that they would not blow up but drink a lot of kerosene!

    Both engines were engineered to be safe to their ASSIGNED aircraft. They are both equally safe but would not be efficient on the other aircraft.

    There are military cargo planes with propellers, but the propellers were made for that pacific plane, making the best safety for THAT plane!

    Hope you understand that they are both safe for the aircraft the were made for.

    Source(s): engineering
  • Kirk
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    Propeller engines. Jet engine plane do not glide when they loss all power. they drop like bricks! Jet engines are turn at over 100,000 rpms and a hair line fracture can cause it to explode. Jets engines have a higher failure rate than propeller ones.

    The Navy requires their jet planes to have 2 jet engine because if one goes bad, the pilot can still fly it back to the aircraft carrier.

  • 7 years ago

    Both are very safe. If I had to guess I would say a prop plane would be safer, due to the fact that it has a more extreme wing shape and will glide longer if the engine dies.

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