What is the difference between a jet and an aeroplane?


I’m a teacher and one of my 7-year-old students asked me this yesterday. So, can someone please explain it like I’m 5-7 years old please? Is it really as simple as the engine in the aircraft?

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Aeroplane (or airplane) is the generic category. It covers almost all fixed wing aircraft. I only say almost because there is probably some random fixed wing aircraft out there that doesn’t count. People like to make random stuff.

Jets are a subcategory of airplanes that use jet engines for propulsion.

Every jet is an aeroplane however not every aeroplane is a jet.

A jet has a jet engine, turbofan, turbojet, jet, non jet aircraft tend to be turboprop, prop meaning they have a propeller.

a jet is a type of airplane that is powered by a jet engine. Kind of like a cat is a mammal powered by sass and spite. There’s really only two main types of airplanes (excluding gliders for simplicity), propeller-driven and jet-powered. Without going into all the nuances involved, that’s an easy way to describe it. External spinny bit = not jet.

(Before anyone brings up turboprops, remember who the target audience is, and also we in the aviation industry never call turboprops “jets” so it’s fine.)

Believe it or not, it is!

Aeroplanes can be propeller aeroplanes, turboprop aeroplanes, jet aeroplanes etc.

A “jet” means the aeroplane has a jet engine. And under jets, there could be fighter jets, light jets, jumbo jets and so on.

A jet is an airplane propelled by a jet engine, specifically turbojet, torbofan, ramjet, scramjet, or pulsejet engines (though the latter three are rarely used, and only in specific military or scientific applications).

The key factor is that propulsive force is from a “jet” of accelerated gas that emerges from the engine itself.

Some airplanes use a gas turbine engine to drive a gearbox and propeller, which provides the airplane’s primary motive force. These are called turboprops. Turbo props and jets behave differently. Turbo props are much slower and travel at comparatively lower altitudes than jets. But turbo props produce much more power at low speeds, which makes them useful on shorter routes.

Propellor airplanes are commonly powered by piston engines too.