aircraft engine(redirected from Aircraft piston engine)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
aircraft engine[′er‚kraft ‚en·jən]
A component of an aircraft that develops either shaft horsepower or thrust and incorporates design features most advantageous for aircraft propulsion. An engine developing shaft horsepower requires an additional means to convert this power to useful thrust for aircraft, such as a propeller, a fan, or a helicopter rotor. It is common practice in this case to designate the unit developing shaft horsepower as the aircraft engine, and the combination of engine and propeller, for example, as an aircraft power plant. In case thrust is developed directly as in a turbojet engine, the terms engine and power plant are used interchangeably.
Air-breathing types of aircraft engines use oxygen from the atmosphere to combine chemically with fuel carried in the vehicle, providing the energy for propulsion, in contrast to rocket types in which both the fuel and oxidizer are carried in the aircraft. See Internal combustion engine, Jet propulsion, Reciprocating aircraft engine, Rocket propulsion, Turbine propulsion