Bypass ratio

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Low bypass
High bypass
Turbojet (No air bypasses the engine)
Schematic turbofan engines; the high-bypass engine (middle) has a large fan that routes much air around the turbine, the low-bypass engine (upper) has a smaller fan routing more air into the turbine; turbojets (bottom) have zero bypass, all air goes through the turbine

The normal definition for the bypass ratio (BPR) of a turbofan engine is the ratio between the mass flow rate of the bypass stream to the mass flow rate entering the core.[1] A 10:1 bypass ratio, for example, means that 10 kg of air passes through the bypass duct for every 1 kg of air passing through the core. Note that in an aft fan engine, like the General Electric CJ805-23, all of the fan air enters the bypass stream,[2] whereas on most turbofans only the air entering the outer section of the fan passes to the bypass duct.[3] Another special case is the General Electric TF39 where most of the fan air plus some of the low pressure compressor air enter the bypass duct.[4]

Turbofan engines are usually described in terms of bpr, which together with overall pressure ratio, turbine inlet temperature and fan pressure ratio are important design parameters. In addition bpr is quoted for turboprop and unducted fan installations because their high propulsive efficiency gives them the overall efficiency characteristics of very high bypass turbofans. This allows them to be shown together with turbofans on plots which show trends of reducing sfc with increasing bpr. Bpr is also quoted for lift fan installations where the fan airflow is remote from the engine and doesn't physically touch the engine core.

Bypass provides a lower fuel consumption for the same thrust, measured as thrust specific fuel consumption (grams/second fuel per unit of thrust in kN using SI units). Lower fuel consumption that comes with high bypass ratios applies to turboprops, using a propeller rather than a ducted fan.[5][6][7][8] High bypass designs are the dominant type for commercial passenger aircraft and both civilian and military jet transports.

Business jets use medium bpr engines.[9]

Combat aircraft use engines with low bypass ratios to compromise between fuel economy and the requirements of combat: high power-to-weight ratios, supersonic performance, and the ability to use afterburners.


If all the gas power from a gas turbine is converted to kinetic energy in a propelling nozzle the aircraft is best suited to high supersonic speeds. If it is all transferred to a separate big mass of air with low kinetic energy the aircraft is best suited to zero speed (hovering). For speeds in between, the gas power is shared between a separate airstream and the gas turbines own nozzle flow in a proportion which gives the aircraft performance required. The first jet aircraft were subsonic and the poor suitability of the propelling nozzle for these speeds due to high fuel consumption was understood, and bypass proposed, as early as 1936 (U.K. Patent 471,368). The underlying principle behind bypass is trading exhaust velocity for extra mass flow which still gives the required thrust but uses less fuel. Whittle called it "gearing down the flow".[10] Power is transferred from the gas generator to an extra mass of air, i.e. a bigger diameter propelling jet, moving more slowly. The bypass spreads the available mechanical power across more air to reduce the velocity of the jet.[11] The trade off between mass flow and velocity is also seen with propellers and helicopter rotors by comparing disc loading and power loading.[12] For example, the same helicopter weight can be supported by a high power engine and small diameter rotor or, for less fuel, a lower power engine and bigger rotor with lower velocity through the rotor.

Bypass usually refers to transferring gas power from a gas turbine to a bypass stream of air to reduce fuel consumption and jet noise. Alternatively, there may be a requirement for an afterburning engine where the sole requirement for bypass is to provide cooling air. This sets the lower limit for bpr and these engines have been called "leaky" or continuous bleed turbojets[13] (General Electric YJ-101 bpr 0.25) and low bpr turbojets[14] (Pratt & Whitney PW1120). Low bpr (0.2) has also been used to provide surge margin as well as afterburner cooling for the Pratt & Whitney J58.[15]


In a zero-bypass (turbojet) engine the high temperature and high pressure exhaust gas is accelerated by expansion through a propelling nozzle and produces all the thrust. The compressor absorbs all the mechanical power produced by the turbine. In a bypass design extra turbines drive a ducted fan that accelerates air rearward from the front of the engine. In a high-bypass design, the ducted fan and nozzle produce most of the thrust. Turbofans are closely related to turboprops in principle because both transfer some of the gas turbine's gas power, using extra machinery, to a bypass stream leaving less for the hot nozzle to convert to kinetic energy. Turbofans represent an intermediate stage between turbojets, which derive all their thrust from exhaust gases, and turbo-props which derive minimal thrust from exhaust gases (typically 10% or less).[16] Extracting shaft power and transferring it to a bypass stream introduces extra losses which are more than made up by the improved propulsive efficiency. The turboprop at its best flight speed gave significant fuel savings over a turbojet even though an extra turbine, a gearbox and a propeller were added to the turbojet's low-loss propelling nozzle.[17] The turbofan has additional losses from its extra turbines, fan, bypass duct and extra propelling nozzle compared to the turbojet's single nozzle.

To see the influence of increasing bpr alone on overall efficiency in the aircraft, i.e. sfc, a common gas generator has to be used, i.e. no change in Brayton cycle parameters or component efficiencies. Bennett[18] shows in this case a relatively slow rise in losses transferring power to the bypass at the same time as a fast drop in exhaust losses with a significant improvement in sfc. In reality increases in bpr over time come along with rises in gas generator efficiency masking, to some extent, the influence of bpr.

Only the limitations of weight and materials (e.g., the strengths and melting points of materials in the turbine) reduce the efficiency at which a turbofan gas turbine converts this thermal energy into mechanical energy, for while the exhaust gases may still have available energy to be extracted, each additional stator and turbine disk retrieves progressively less mechanical energy per unit of weight, and increasing the compression ratio of the system by adding to the compressor stage to increase overall system efficiency increases temperatures at the turbine face. Nevertheless, high-bypass engines have a high propulsive efficiency because even slightly increasing the velocity of a very large volume and consequently mass of air produces a very large change in momentum and thrust: thrust is the engine's mass flow (the amount of air flowing through the engine) multiplied by the difference between the inlet and exhaust velocities in—a linear relationship—but the kinetic energy of the exhaust is the mass flow multiplied by one-half the square of the difference in velocities.[19][20] A low disc loading (thrust per disc area) increases the aircraft's energy efficiency, and this reduces the fuel use.[21][22][23]

The Rolls–Royce Conway turbofan engine, developed in the early 1950s, was an early example of a bypass engine. The configuration was similar to a 2-spool turbojet but to make it into a bypass engine it was equipped with an oversized low pressure compressor: the flow through the inner portion of the compressor blades went into the core while the outer portion of the blades blew air around the core to provide the rest of the thrust. The bypass ratio for the Conway varied between 0.3 and 0.6 depending on the variant[24]

The growth of bypass ratios during the 1960s gave jetliners fuel efficiency that could compete with that of piston-powered planes. Today (2015), most jet engines have some bypass. Modern engines in slower aircraft, such as airliners, have bypass ratios up to 12:1; in higher-speed aircraft, such as fighters, bypass ratios are much lower, around 1.5; and craft designed for speeds up to Mach 2 and somewhat above have bypass ratios below 0.5.

Turboprops have bypass ratios of 50-100,[5][6][7] although the propulsion airflow is less clearly defined for propellers than for fans[25] and propeller airflow is slower than the airflow from turbofan nozzles.[23][26]

Engine bypass ratios[edit]

Turbofans, unless otherwise noted

Engineno Major applications Bypass ratio
Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 (turbojet) Concorde 0:1
SNECMA M88 Rafale 0.30:1
General Electric F404 F/A-18, T-50, F-117, X-29, X-31 0.34:1
Pratt & Whitney F100 F-16, F-15 0.36:1
Eurojet EJ200 Typhoon 0.4:1
Klimov RD-33 MiG-29, Il-102 0.49:1
Saturn AL-31 Su-27, Su-30, J-10 0.59:1
NK-144A Tu-144 0.6:1
Pratt & Whitney JT8D DC-9, MD-80, 727, 737 0.96:1
D-20P Tu-124 1.0:1
Kuznetsov NK-321 Tu-160 1.4:1
Rolls-Royce Tay Gulfstream IV, F70, F100 3.1:1
CF6-50 A300, DC-10-30 4.26:1
PowerJet SaM146 SJ 100 4.43:1
RB211-22B Lockheed L-1011 TriStar 4.8:1
PW4000(-94) A300, A310, Boeing 767, Boeing 747-400 4.85:1
Progress D-436 Yak-42, Be-200, An-148 4.91:1
CF6-80C2 A300-600, Boeing 747-400, MD-11, A310 4.97-5.31:1
Trent 700 A330 5.0:1
Pratt & Whitney JT9D Boeing 747, Boeing 767, Airbus A310, McDonnell Douglas DC-10 5.0:1
Progress D-18T An-124, An-225 5.6:1
Pratt & Whitney PW2000 757, C-17 5.9:1
Trent 500 A340-500 (-600) 7.6:1
General Electric TF39 Lockheed C-5 Galaxy 8.0:1
Rolls-Royce Trent 900 A380 8.7:1
General Electric GE90 777 8.4-9:1
Rolls-Royce Trent XWB A350 9.3:1
General Electric GEnx 747-8, 787 9.6:1
Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 787 10:1
Pratt & Whitney PW1000G Bombardier CSeries, Airbus A320neo 12:1
PT6 / PW100 (turboprop)[6] Beechcraft Super King Air / ATR 72 50-60:1


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Ilan Kroo and Juan Alonso. "Aircraft Design: Synthesis and Analysis, Propulsion Systems: Basic Concepts Archive" Stanford University School of Engineering, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Quote: "When the bypass ratio is increased to 10-20 for very efficient low speed performance, the weight and wetted area of the fan shroud (inlet) become large, and at some point it makes sense to eliminate it altogether. The fan then becomes a propeller and the engine is called a turboprop. Turboprop engines provide efficient power from low speeds up to as high as M=0.8 with bypass ratios of 50-100."
  6. ^ a b c Prof. Z. S. Spakovszky. "11.5 Trends in thermal and propulsive efficiency Archive" MIT turbines, 2002. Thermodynamics and Propulsion
  7. ^ a b Nag, P.K. "Basic And Applied Thermodynamics" p550. Published by Tata McGraw-Hill Education. Quote: "If the cowl is removed from the fan the result is a turboprop engine. Turbofan and turboprop engines differ mainly in their bypass ratio 5 or 6 for turbofans and as high as 100 for turboprop."
  8. ^ Animated Engines
  9. ^
  10. ^ Gas Turbine Aerodynamics, Sir Frank Whittle, Pergamon Press 1981, p.217
  11. ^ Aircraft Engine Design Second Edition, Mattingley, Heiser, Pratt, AIAA Education Series, ISBN 1-56347-538-3, p.539
  12. ^
  13. ^ Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1975-1976, edited by John W.R. Taylor, Jane's Yearbooks, Paulton House, 8 Sheperdess Walk, London N1 7LW, p.748
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "The turbofan engine", page 7. SRM University, Department of aerospace engineering
  17. ^ Gas Turbine Theory Second Edition, Cohen, Rogers and Saravanamuttoo, Longmans Group Limited 1972, ISBN 0 582 44927 8, p.85
  18. ^ Aero Engine Development for the Future, H.W. Bennett, Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 197A, Power Industries Division, July 1983, Fig.5
  19. ^ Paul Bevilaqua : The shaft driven Lift Fan propulsion system for the Joint Strike Fighter page 3. Presented May 1, 1997. DTIC.MIL Word document, 5.5 MB. Accessed: 25 February 2012.
  20. ^ Bensen, Igor. "How they fly - Bensen explains all" Gyrocopters UK. Accessed: 10 April 2014.
  21. ^ Johnson, Wayne. Helicopter theory pp3+32, Courier Dover Publications, 1980. Accessed: 25 February 2012. ISBN 0-486-68230-7
  22. ^ Wieslaw Zenon Stepniewski, C. N. Keys. Rotary-wing aerodynamics p3, Courier Dover Publications, 1979. Accessed: 25 February 2012. ISBN 0-486-64647-5
  23. ^ a b Philip Walsh, Paul Fletcher. "Gas Turbine Performance", page 36. John Wiley & Sons, 15 April 2008. Quote: "It has better fuel consumption than a turbojet or turbofan, due to a high propulsive efficiency.., achieving thrust by a high mass flow of air from the propeller at low jet velocity. Above 0.6 Mach number the turboprop in turn becomes uncompetitive, due mainly to higher weight and frontal area."
  24. ^ "Rolls-Royce Aero Engines" Bill Gunston, Patrick Stevens Limited, ISBN 1-85260-037-3, p.147
  25. ^ "Propeller thrust" Glenn Research Center (NASA)
  26. ^ "Turboprop Engine" Glenn Research Center (NASA)