Efficiencies – Mechanical Efficiency

in Aircraft Engines

Mechanical efficiency is the ratio that shows how much of the power developed by the expanding gases in the cylinder is actually delivered to the output shaft. It is a comparison between the bhp and the ihp. It can be expressed by the formula:


Brake horsepower is the useful power delivered to the propeller shaft. Indicated horsepower is the total hp developed in the cylinders. The difference between the two is friction horsepower (fhp), the power lost in overcoming friction. The factor that has the greatest effect on mechanical efficiency is the friction within the engine itself. The friction between moving parts in an engine remains practically constant throughout an engine’s speed range. Therefore, the mechanical efficiency of an engine is highest when the engine is running at the rpm at which maximum bhp is developed. Mechanical efficiency of the average aircraft reciprocating engine approaches 90 percent.