Power progression: The evolution of airliner powerplants

Recent incidents have put the safety of airliner engines into focus but, as expert Professor Pericles Pilidis tells Tom Batchelor, new developments point to a cleaner, greener future

United Airlines' Boeing 777-200, N772UA, (c/n 26930) departs Los Angeles in November 2019

Engine failures are extremely rare, and uncontained engine failures are even more unusual. So when two aircraft experienced just that scenario on the same Saturday in February, the reliability of powerplants on modern jet aircraft was understandably thrust into the spotlight. While the gas turbine engines that are in use on modern airliners remain incredibly safe – with lottery-level odds of a significant failure – the incidents have prompted fresh inspections and a renewed focus on the causes and consequences of such an event.

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