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Aircraft propulsion system Market driven by demand for air travel and cargo, aircraft deliveries, and fuel efficiency

All Aircrafts depend on propulsion system is to produce thrust so as to lift the object for a prolonged period of time by consuming different fuels. Presently jet engines are the workhorses of airplanes carrying millions of people, trillions of miles every year, at supersonic speed and with high safety; the failure rate is only once every million flight hours. A flight propulsion system generally consists of an aircraft engine and some means to generate thrust, such as a propeller or a propulsive nozzle.


Propulsion Program Problems Are Grounding F-35s

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, the military’s most expensive weapons system ever, continues to be plagued by a lack of parts for its F135 engines, which cost roughly $12 million a piece, and the people and places to fix them.


In July 2022,  a scathing report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reiterated the net effect of the military’s struggles with the F135 jet engine made by Pratt & Whitney. In February, 36 of the fleet of about 450 F-35s – or about 8% – were unable to fly because they had no working engine.


“DOD developed a sustainment strategy unique for the F-35 engines in an attempt to balance affordability and performance,” GAO reported. “However, this sustainment strategy does not meet some key operational desired outcomes of the military services, such as having sufficient numbers of aircraft with operating engines available to perform missions. DOD has also not assessed and updated its strategy to address those desired outcomes or reflect additional challenges, such as growing sustainment costs and options for modernizing the engine.”


Aircraft Propulsion

NASA explains their principle, “All jet engines, which are also called gas turbines, work on the same principle. The engine sucks air in at the front with a fan. A compressor raises the pressure of the air. The compressor is made with many blades attached to a shaft. The blades spin at high speed and compress or squeeze the air. The compressed air is then sprayed with fuel and an electric spark lights the mixture. The burning gases expand and blast out through the nozzle, at the back of the engine. As the jets of gas shoot backward, the engine and the aircraft are thrust forward. As the hot air is going to the nozzle, it passes through another group of blades called the turbine. The turbine is attached to the same shaft as the compressor. Spinning the turbine causes the compressor to spin.”


Several energy conversion technologies have been identified or proposed that may have potential for application in commercial aircraft e.g., solar power, nuclear power, battery/fuel cell power, and hydrogen engines. However, these advanced concepts would require major innovations, development, and changes in infrastructure before they could serve as viable alternatives to hydrocarbon-powered gas turbine engines. Electric propulsion of aircraft is a growing phenomenon in a sector subject to mounting scrutiny with regard to its environmental impact.


Aircraft propulsion Market

The aircraft engine manufacturing industry provides the most important component of an aircraft to enable its desired functioning. Since an aircraft engine is highly complex and sophisticated, globally the manufacturing procedure is heavily controlled by the governments.

The global aircraft engine market size was valued at USD 45.50 billion in 2021. The market is projected to grow from USD 50.76 billion in 2022 to USD 104.65 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 10.89% during the forecast period. As the global interconnectedness increases, this figure is forecasted to exceed over 97 billion U.S. dollars by 2026 due to increasing demand for air travel and cargo.

The COVID-19 and resultant lockdowns have adversely impacted the aviation industry. This pandemic has resulted in the standstill of aircraft as a mode of transport. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), every year, over 2 billion people take aircraft as their mode of transportation. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the year 2020 witnessed over 60% loss in global air traffic, which bought the aviation industry to a standstill. Several companies have already implemented policies to restrict non-essential travel to protect their employees.

The propulsion systems market is driven by factors, such as rise in the number of aircraft deliveries,  and upgradation of airborne and unmanned aerial vehicles, among others. Increasing demand of aircrafts in the commercial aviation sector is a major factor, driving the growth of the global aircraft engines market. Increasing military budgets, especially in emerging economies and adoption of aircrafts that are equipped with advance technology are also factors propelling the demand of the aircrafts and drives the growth of the global market. In addition, growing regional unrest and increasing terrorist activities are also factors anticipated to increase demand for aircrafts in the military sector.

Increasing commercial aircraft operations are most likely to drive the growth of aircraft engines in the future. Major countries in Asia Pacific, North America, and Europe are seeing a rise in military operations, which increases the demand for aircraft engines in military aircraft. Also, replacement services will also be a factor in driving the market. These engines will also emerge useful in UAVs.

Increasing commercial aviation operations, growing international tourism, rising air passenger traffic, and increasing budget allocations for the defense sector are the key factors propelling the growth of the propulsion systems market in aircraft application

Stringent regulatory environment for aircraft engine manufacturing and MRO

The aerospace industry has very strict policies regarding the safety of both passengers and aircraft. Therefore, the aviation industry has made regulatory standards to undertake these issues and keeps on modifying them to achieve the best safety standard for the safety and improvement of the aviation industry. Hence, aircraft engine manufacturers also have to make new product developments to keep up with these standards.

One of these regulatory standards can be seen in the replacement of heavier engine components with components made of lighter metals. Thus, maintenance services offered by key players in the aircraft engines market act as a necessary service to keep up with the safety and regulatory standards of the aviation sector.

Engine component manufacturing challenges

Aircraft engines and components related to them are some of the most critical components of an aircraft. Hence, manufacturing these components is also a challenge for OEMs and product manufacturers. These products must be manufactured under the regulatory and safety requirements of the aviation industry. So, the engine system has seen some evolution in manufacturing components from high-strength steels and titanium. Companies such as General Electric have invested more in finding technologies that could ease and fasten the process of aircraft engine manufacturing. They now use 3D printers to produce various components of aircraft engines such as fuel nozzles and fuel systems with the help of ceramics. The end process consists of a heat treatment test as components of an engine must withstand temperatures and absorb millions of foot-pounds of kinetic energy on an operation.

Rising demand for fuel-efficient aircraft engines

Airlines are looking forward to aircraft engines that provide greater fuel efficiency. Some emissions caused due to aviation, such as nitrous oxide, can be reduced by engines with greater fuel efficiency. Aircraft size also contributes to the factor of fuel consumption as the bigger the aircraft higher will be the fuel consumption. Therefore, aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing tried to produce aircraft structures that are as fuel-efficient as possible. However, many airlines are still finding smaller body aircraft more fuel-efficient.

Hence, aircraft with smaller twin-engine widebodies like Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 are considered to be more fuel-efficient. As a result, their demand is rising across the aviation industry. Rolls-Royce manufactures engines such as Trent XWB that is dedicated to Airbus A350 aircraft as it provides the best balance. The engine provides features such as best fuel efficiency, longer lifecycle, and reduced weight with greater aerodynamics, which is the key factor for aircraft engines consuming less fuel during operation.

Rising demand for zero-emission aircraft

According to Fox News, in 2018, United Airlines started printing its inflight magazine on a lighter piece of paper, which helped in reducing the weight of the magazine by 1 ounce. During that period, United Airlines had 744 mainline aircraft with a seating capacity of 210. This initiative helped save 170,000 gallons of fuel for that particular year, which ultimately resulted in profit. The airline industry profit margins are too low, and with the rising demand for aircraft, more than half of the revenue generated goes into fuel. Hence, the alternative to a conventional aircraft engine, which is an electric engine, holds a promise to eliminate the cost of fuel significantly, which will also help in saving the environment as well. Therefore, the rising demand for electric aircraft engines will be an opportunity for aircraft engine manufacturers during the forecast period


Aircraft engines can be used by different forms of aircraft to improve operational efficiency and be safer and more reliable. Aircraft engines are prominent in narrow-body aircraft, wide-body aircraft, private jets, transport aircraft, fighter aircraft, commercial and military helicopters, UAVs, etc.


Based on aircraft type, fixed wing is projected to have the largest share during the forecast period

Based on aircraft type, the aircraft engine market is segmented into fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and unmanned aerial vehicles.A fixed-wing aircraft generates a forward thrust and is heavier than other aircraft that use wings to generate lift for flying. A fixed-wing aircraft uses forward airspeed to generate the lift. In a fixed-wing aircraft, the wings are not always static, and the pilot does not always have to fly the aircraft. Some basic examples of unmanned fixed-wing aircraft are kites and gliders, while the examples of fixed-wing aircraft flown by pilots are airplanes and seaplanes. The major components of a fixed-wing aircraft are fuselage, fixed wings, vertical, and horizontal stabilizer, along with the engine and its component. A flying wing aircraft has no tail or definite fuselage. Blended wing bodies have wings that blend into the fuselage which produces more lift and less drag.


By type, Turbofan aircraft engine type is projected to witness a higher CAGR during the forecast period

The major types of aircraft engines commonly used in an aircraft are turboprop, turbofan, turboshaft, and piston engine. The turbofan engine is projected to grow at the highest CAGR due to the rising demand for business jets. The turboprop are also projected to grow owing to the gaining attention among various aircraft as these consume less fuel than other types of engines.


“Among types, the electric propulsion segment of the propulsion systems market is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period.”

Based on type, the electric propulsion segment of the propulsion systems market is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. Electric propulsion is used in satellites and spacecraft mainly for trajectory correction. Moreover, increased use of electric propulsion in telecommunication satellites in developed as well as emerging economies is expected to boost the growth of the electric propulsion segment of the propulsion systems market between 2016 and 2021.


Electric plane power is much simpler — batteries power an electric motor that spins a propeller. It’s more efficient, but involves far less thrust, which is why electric planes tend to be slow. Electric propulsion can be powered by rechargeable batteries, fuel cells, or solar energy.The need to optimize aircraft performance, decrease operating and maintenance costs, and reduce gas emissions have pushed aircraft industry’s to progress more electric aircraft (MEA), and ultimately an All Electric Aircraft.


“The future will continue to see different and diverging requirements for the military and commercial sectors. Variable mission and adaptive capabilities will drive military programs, while time on wing and efficiency will continue to be the drivers for commercial aircraft. Material choices will differ with the technological and engineering trade-offs within each sector, and the portfolio of materials for aircraft engines will continue to grow with additional research and development, says Ernest ,” said Arvai at Pratt and Whitney

The UAV propulsion market is expected to witness a significant growth in the coming years

The demand for UAVs propulsion systems is rapidly gaining pace in the aerospace and defense industry owing to the flourishing level of future demand for unmanned aerial vehicles. The rising demand from defense and commercial applications are the major factors responsible for enhancing the growth of UAV propulsion market, globally. Global UAV Propulsion System Market Anticipated to Reach to $4,712.2 Million by 2024, according to  ResearchAndMarkets.com


The UAV propulsion system market is highly competitive at present owing to the increased demand from the aerospace and defense industry. In any case, to efficiently survive and prevail in such a competitive environment, the manufacturers ought to provide cost-effective and high-quality services. The market is expected to grow rapidly with the ease in the regulations for integration of drones in the civilian air space, thereby increasing demand for electrically-powered engines.


The global UAV propulsion system market has gained widespread importance owing to the growing need to deploy UAVs in diverse and emerging applications. However, high cost of development and restrictions on UAV propulsion due to certain set standards of emission and noise are some of the chief factors that are restraining the market growth.


North America dominated the global UAV propulsion system market with a share of 77.37% in 2018. North America, including the major countries such as the U.S., is currently the most prominent region for the UAV propulsion system market. In North America, the U.S. acquired a major market share in 2018 due to the major usage of UAVs in the military, government, and commercial applications.


The UAV technology has become one of the essential constituents which comprise a country’s military mission nowadays. There is an increased requirement of noise reduction UAVs amongst military forces in order to carry out surveillance missions. Thus, an effective propulsion system is required so as to meet this particular requirement.Various types of propulsion systems are being used in the UAVs depending on size of the aircraft.


One of the key players in the UAV propulsion system market, 3W International, is supplying patented next-generation heavy-fuel (HF) engines for helicopters, unmanned fixed wings, and hybrid unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the naval industry. The 3W-180 SRE Wankel Rotary UAV Engine is a compact hybrid cycle engine, which is lightweight and offers a high power-to-weight ratio, enabling higher payloads during field operations. With the hybrid-boost power capabilities, an additional 15KW simplifies its lift-off or acceleration processes.


Rotron Power Ltd, a manufacturer of advanced rotary-powered propulsion systems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) applications,has announced the successful completion of a 1,000 hour simulated flight endurance test. The test, carried out with its RT600-EXE engine, is the culmination of a prestigious grant from the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) to research new and innovative methods for extending the flight duration and longevity of UAV engines.


According to the analyst at BIS Research, “The UAV propulsion system market was estimated to capture a market value of $363.8 million in 2016 with electrically-powered segment accommodating the highest share.” The market is expected to witness a significant growth in the coming years.


Market by Region

The North America accounts for largest market share in terms of revenue and expected to maintain its dominance over the forecast period, owing to an increasing preference for air travel among consumers in the region. The Asia Pacific market is expected to witness the fastest growth, especially in emerging economies due to increasing manufacturers and rising military budget.


North America is projected to be the largest regional share of the aircraft engine market during the forecast period. In North America, the U.S. and Canada are the two countries considered for the study. The aviation industry is one of the most profitable industries in North America. Major aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing (U.S.) and Bombardier (Canada) are based in this region.


“The North American region is estimated to account for the largest share of the propulsion systems market during the forecast period, while the propulsion systems market in the Asia-Pacific region is projected to grow at the highest CAGR between 2016 and 2021.”  Presence of large number of original component manufacturers (OCMs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the region is fueling the growth of the North America propulsion systems market.


The high disposable incomes of consumers in North America have contributed to the rise in air travel, which, in turn, is leading to an increase in air passenger traffic. This rise in air passenger traffic has led to an increase in the number of aircraft deliveries in this region, which is leading to the high demand for aircraft engines. The region has been benefiting from low oil prices, improved efficiency in aircraft operations, and a steady labor market. Thus, the profitability of airline owners is higher in North American countries. These are the factors due to which North America will be the largest market for aircraft engines.


In UAV maket, North America is expected to dominate the market in the forecast period which is followed by Asia Pacific, Europe and rest of the world. U.S. being the largest military spender; is expected to procure UAVs for its military missions, which indeed will generate demand for propulsion systems. Similarly, Asia Pacific is expected to grow at a fastest CAGR with China dominating the market in this region.


Market Ecosystem

The ecosystem of the propulsion systems market comprises type and application. The propulsion systems value chain includes raw material manufacturers, such as Safran S.A. (France), Rolls-Royce Holdings plc. (U.K.), and General Electric Company (U.S.), among others. The key players operating in the propulsion systems market include United Technologies Corporation (U.S.), 3W International GmbH (Germany), Orbital ATK Inc. (U.S.), Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (U.S.), and Honeywell International Inc. (U.S.), among others.


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