90 years since the patenting of the first jet engine

90 years since the patenting of the first jet engine

On 16th January 1930, Englishman Frank Whittle patented the first jet engine. An aircraft powered by this engine took off for the first time in 1941. Whittle was beaten by Hans von Ohain, a German, whose jet engine set off on its official test flight on 27th August 1939. PBS started its development of jet engines nearly 20 years ago.

In high school, Frank Whittle was not a model student. Due to his interest in aviation, he decided to join the Royal Air Force (RAF), where he was accepted on his second try. It turned out that Frank Whittle was a talented aircraft mechanic, so he was offered a pilot course. He finished it successfully and in his final thesis, he introduced the idea of using gas pressure for the propulsion of aircraft. He stated that the well-known principle of action and reaction could provide aircraft with higher speeds and altitude in comparison with the most powerful piston engines.

Although interest in Whittle’s work faded due to lack of interest, he did not lose faith in the future of the jet engine and on 16th January 1930, he had it patented. His sketch included a compressor, a combustion chamber, a turbine and an outlet nozzle, all of the essential parts that jet engines use to this day in a modified form.
Britain was overtaken by Germany
In 1936, Whittle founded a company so that he could work on the development of the jet engine on his own. Officials started showing interest in the project, but it took several years until it was possible to secure funding for the project. As a result, Britain missed out on first place among the countries that managed to launch an aircraft powered by a jet engine.
The British experimental aircraft Gloster E28/39 took off for the first time in 1941, second behind the German Heinkel He 178. The development of the jet engine was being worked on in parallel by designer Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain. The German Heinkel He 178 with Ohain’s engine took off on its first official test flight on 27th August 1939.
Despite this, Whittle was praised as a hero and in 1948, King George VI knighted him. He died in 1996 in the USA at the age of 89. In 2002, he was voted the 42nd greatest Briton of all time by the BBC. 



Frank Whittle: The Jet Engine 


PBS jet engines
The beginnings of the development of PBS jet engines date back to 2001, when it was necessary to find a new production programme to replace the concluded production of devices for the L-159 from Aero Vodochody.  The then director of the Aerospace Technology Division, Zdeněk Katolický, used his years of experience as a designer from the development of auxiliary power units (APUs) and designed and detailed the first version of the PBS TJ100 turbojet engine.
The concept of the engine was chosen to be universal, allowing its use for both civilian and military applications in various types of unmanned aerial vehicles. Testing of the first functional sample was started in 2002 and a contract for the first supplies was signed the following year. The first PBS TJ100 serial engine was delivered in 2004 to Spanish company INTA, which manufactures target drones.

Modifications and a wide variety of jet engines

Throughout its existence, the PBS TJ100 has been improved many times and received more than 20 customer modifications. The thrust has been increased from 1,000 to 1,300 N, the service life from 50 h to 300 h, reducing the specific fuel consumption and extending the flight coverage from 8 to 10 km. Some of the most interesting modifications of the PBS TJ100 include the version without oil, which is lubricated by an admixture of oil in the fuel, and the “marine” engine variant, which has a special treatment allowing repeated landing in saltwater.
In 2018, PBS launched 2 new jet engines on the market, including its most powerful model, the PBS TJ150. The parallel development of two completely new jet engines is a great success due to the complexity of the development process, manufacturing, assembly, and testing. PBS has thus expanded its line of jet engines to 5 types in the category from 230 to 1500 Newtons of thrust.

A glider with a jet engine and a world record

A modification of the PBS TJ100 engine and its accessories required testing not only on the ground but also at altitude. For this purpose, PBS acquired a glider, an L-13 Blaník, which it experimentally fitted with the PBS TJ100 engine. Blaník is a popular Czechoslovak trainer glider, which had its 60th birthday last year. During its lifetime it has been exported worldwide and manufactured with several experimental modifications. Among the most interesting is the L-13TJ, which is the version with the PBS turbojet engine.
In 2008, when testing the start-ability and functionality of the PBS TJ100 jet engine, the Blaník glider broke the world record in higher altitudes when it climbed to a height of almost 10 km. It now holds the world record in terms of height achieved from the carrier. In this particular case, following disconnection from the tow plane, Blaník rose from a height of 6,300 m to 9,700 m.