What Is The Purpose of the Aircraft Engine Spiral?

Posted on July 28, 2022 David Atkinson Aviation

Turbofans are one of the most common types of engines found in modern aircraft models, generally being found on commercial airliners, various military planes, business jets, and more. Turbofans combine many of the best features of propeller and turbine engines, and their popularity comes as a result of their high thrust generation and optimal fuel efficiency. If you have taken the time to examine the turbofan engines of a commercial airliner at an airport or on another type of aircraft, you may have noticed that most have a white spiral that is painted on the center of the spiral. While this design is surely aesthetically pleasing, it actually serves a few important purposes, those of which we will discuss in this blog.

While there is no legal requirement or industry standard for painting spirals on the aircraft engine spinner, it is still something that one will find on a majority of aircraft with turbofans. The designs of the spirals may also vary from company to company, as some may feature more unique designs or utilize shapes and patterns such as apostrophes, balls, commas, or even hurricane patterns. Regardless of design or implementation, these spirals serve two main purposes: alerting crew members of the status of the engine and keeping birds away from the engine assembly.
 
When an aircraft is on the ground and workers are operating near it, turbofan engines present a major potential safety hazard. If the jet engine is running, it can create a sucking force that will draw in objects that are too close. While a smaller engine at idle has a hazard zone of around 10 feet, larger engines have a much bigger one. To remain a safe distance, personnel must know when the engine is operating and whether or not it is safe to approach it. Typically, noise would be the easiest indicator of a running engine, due to the fact that turbofan engines are quite loud when operating. However, ground crews will often be wearing ear protection that may muffle the noise to a degree, and having a visual indicator is an added benefit for safety. When the engine is off, the ground crew would easily be able to see the spiral. When the engine is operating, the blades become translucent, so the spiral ensures that workers can quickly determine the operating status.
 
Birds are another major hazard when it comes to operating turbofan engines, and bird strikes present a very costly and dangerous problem as birds have the chance to greatly damage assemblies. With the white spiral on the spinner, birds can better detect motion so that they can safely avoid flying too close to the engine. If spinner spirals were not present, the turbofan engine would simply look like a clear hole to fly through. While this secondary reason for having spinner spirals is not fully backed by evidence, some studies have shown its potential effectiveness.
 
If you are in the market for various turbofan engine components and aviation parts that you need for carrying out your operations, we have you covered on ASAP Parts 360. On our database, we present customers access to over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find components that have been sourced from leading manufacturers that we trust. As you explore our offerings, we encourage you to take advantage of our online RFQ forms for the means of requesting quotes for your comparisons. Upon receiving a completed request, our team will respond with a customized solution in just 15 minutes or less. Get started on the purchasing process with us today and see how ASAP Parts 360 can operate as your strategic sourcing partner for all your operational needs!

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