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Quora.com is a question-and-answer site where content is written and edited by its community of users. Occasionally we syndicate content from the site if we think it will interest TPG readers. This article originally appeared on Quora.com in response to the question, Is It Possible to Survive Being Sucked down an Aircraft’s Air Inlet? and was written by Matthew Clifford, who studied at Aperture Science.
If you mean getting sucked through an active turbofan’s intake, then no. If you’re standing somewhere near an active jet engine, you’re not going to survive.
You see these blades? These titanium blades suck a gigantic volume of air into the engine to be mixed with fuel within the engine’s nacelle, then combust into the hot gas that would create thrust. The blades spin at a rate of 1,000 to 20,000 revolutions per minute; you would get chopped into bits faster than you could blink if you’re standing near an engine on full throttle and got sucked in. Then your chomped up body would meet the spikes.
That row of several spinning, serrated blades make up the axial flow compressor. This is where the air the fan blades sucked in can be sped up and compressed. The farther into the engine, the smaller the blades became to add more energy to the airflow. Which would mean the bits of your body would get sliced and diced into even smaller pieces as it passed through the compressor.
Then, the biological goo that used to be you would be pushed into the combustion chamber, where fuel is mixed with the high-speed air, which is slowed down by a component called a diffuser to allow air to be better mixed with the jet fuel. The engine would flicker slightly at this point when foreign contamination (aka. your remains) get mixed up with the fuel, but since the process happened extremely fast, this isn’t going to lead to a dead engine. The gassificated pieces of your body would pass through the last section, which is also composed of spinning blades.
The turbine is simply just a part that keeps the entire engine working by exploiting the energy of the hot gas shooting out of the combustion chamber to spin the fan blades in the intake at the front. So finally, you would shoot out of the nozzle. However, the blades aren’t made to handle physical stress, so as soon as you get sucked in, the inner blades within the nacelle would break and either decrease its efficiency or deaden the engine entirely.
Featured image courtesy of Madeleine Lenz via Getty Images.
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