Engine Experience and You

Jet engines are powerful, complex marvels of human design. To begin understanding how they work, it is important to start with a foundation and then build on that knowledge. While hands-on skills are not required to begin National Aviation Academy’s (NAA) programs, it makes a difference to have basic safety, tool, and engine knowledge.

Whether it comes from tinkering with motors, performing services on a vehicle, or experience from a technical program, having that baseline experience makes for a well-balanced transition into aviation maintenance training. 

Diving right in, consider the overlap and differences of aviation engines with other transportation. **Explore each engine with the links provided for models, videos, and more in-depth information! 

Reciprocating Engines 

Reciprocating (piston) engines are typically a heat engine that uses one or more reciprocating pistons to convert pressure into a rotating motion, commonly referred to as the Otto Cycle. 

The examples below are used in general aviation aircraft and are common in one or more of the following; automotive, formula one racing, motorcycles, powerboats, watercraft, trains, and other heavy machinery. 



Boxer (Flat) Engine

Diesel Engine

Reaction Engines 

Reaction engines (Jet and Power Turbines) use continuous combustions to create a reaction of forces to drive the aircraft forward. 

Jet Turbines suck in air and produce thrust from the exhaust gases or from ducted fans connected to the gas turbines. Jet Turbines are common in Commercial Airliners and Military Fighter Jets. 



Power Turbines convert exhaust gases into mechanical energy to propel the aircraft forward. While turboprops are specific to aircraft, turboshafts are primarily in helicopters, boats, ships, tanks, and hovercraft.



Rockets are a specialty field of reaction engines. While there is not a formal training for this type, they may require years of direct experience in the aerospace field, beyond having an A&P certification. Rocket engines use fuel and a source of oxygen to create an explosion in a combustion chamber, which produces hot exhaust that passes through a nozzle to accelerate the flow and produce thrust 

From Reciprocating Engines to Turbines

NAA’s Powerplant training begins with Reciprocating Engines and then advances into Jet Turbines for the Powerplant portion of the certification. This gives all students, experience or no experience, the foundation they need to be successful and earn their Powerplant Ratings.

Are you ready to take your skills to the next level? Learn about the career opportunities with an A&P License and get your questions answered by speaking with a staff member! Scroll further down to request more information or schedule a virtual info session.