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Thread: Why can't piston engines reverse thrust?

  1. Default Why can't piston engines reverse thrust?

    I read the turboprops can reverse thrust, but not piston engines.

    Since some piston propcraft can adjust prop pitch, why can't they reverse like turboprops? What am I missing here?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    San Francisco, California


    You seem to be missing a lot! My DC-7 and C-97/Stratocruiser have reverse thrust. I can actually taxi backwards using reverse thrust from the props.
    Last edited by mrzippy; 01-08-2020 at 11:31 AM.
    Mr Zippy Sent from my keyboard using "Whackamole", NudgeAKey + 2 Fingers

    Emachines T3418 AMD 3400+ processor 2GHZ/256KB L2 Cashe 2Gig Ram 160Gig HDD NVidia GEForce 6100 GPU Running WinXP Home Can't believe it still works! Running FSX Standard with SP1 and SP2

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Westminster, CO


    As Zippy says, some piston aircraft can do so. He lists a couple. Many (most) piston airliners (in real life) have reverse thrust. However, that doesn't automatically make it available in the sim. Best I can tell, it takes a special work-around by aircraft designers to get the reverse thrust on piston engine aircraft, while the sim itself makes it simple for a turboprop.

    However, IRL the mechanism allowing reverse thrust is expensive and adds complexity (as well as weight) so its use has been limited in smaller aircraft. But there has recently been an STC* to add reverse thrust to certain Cessna singles equipped with certain props, see this AOPA article, probably for sea plane use.

    * STC -- Supplemental Type Certificate
    A Type Certificate is the paperwork/authorization from the FAA that an aircraft has been FAA approved for normal production in standard (non-experimental) categories. An STC is issued when an aircraft modification has gone through a lot of expensive, elaborate testing and is shown to have no adverse effects on an aircraft. An STC'ed product is generally sold by the developer, but in any case must be applied to individual aircraft on a one-at-a-time basis, that is, there is no blanket approval. Each installation must follow rigid installation procedures and the associated paperwork must be properly done.

    Larry N.

    As Skylab would say:
    Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

  4. Default

    Thanks for the excellent answers!

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