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When we think about air propulsion, the first thing that comes to mind is a propeller. They are the most iconic air propulsion system. But propulsion is much more than just propellers.
A propulsion system or powertrain is the system that any vehicle uses to move around. In aeronautics, it is also a key element in an aircraft’s lift. It includes various components that vary according to the type of aircraft: engine, transmission system, differentials, wheels, propellers, tracks, batteries, fuel cells, etc. At the dawn of aeronautics, even the manual force used by the crew to move a hot air balloon’s propeller was part of the propulsion system.
It is a vast and complex world that has been evolving since the very origins of aeronautics, and continues to do so to this day. Nowadays, the focus for its development is increasing efficiency and the search for cleaner propulsion.
This infographic gives a brief introduction to some basic aspects of air propulsion, and a summary of some of the most common systems used in aeronautics today.