I hear it a lot in engine design , I think that belongs to some phase about we can change the engine parameters according to requirements but I am not sure about it.


2 Answers 2


A rubber engine is not to be confused with a rubber motor (a rubber band which is twisted in order to store energy which can be released when the rubber band untwists. This type of engine is good for short energy bursts in small model airplanes).

A rubber engine is an engine deck (tables of engine data) which can be scaled according to your needs. In a way, you stretch one parameter of the data like a rubber band, and all other parameters change accordingly. In most cases, you adjust thrust to your needs and the scaled engine deck will produce mass, size and fuel consumption for the most likely actual engine with the given thrust. This is very helpful in the initial stages of engine design when you search for the smallest possible airframe to fulfil given mission requirements.

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    $\begingroup$ So, just to make sure I understand correctly, a "rubber engine" is a particular type of data table? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 3:02
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    $\begingroup$ @TannerSwett - that's correct. It's not a "physical device". $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 3:20

I intended to make this a comment on Peter Kämpf's answer, but don't have enough reputation.

In my engineering education, a "rubber engine" referred to an engine with variable parameters. A "fixed engine" referred to a specific engine with well-defined parameters, for example "Lycoming O-235-F1." In general, you use a rubber engine in aircraft design when you know generally what type of aircraft you're working on, e.g. a single engine piston-propeller or a multi-engine turboprop, and you just need values that are "good enough" without restricting your design to a specific model. Once you have an idea of what the aircraft's parameters are going to be, you can select a specific engine model and modify the rest of the design to work with the newly-restricted engine.

It's not as restrictive of a definition as a type of data table; it can be as simple as having single numbers for power, fuel consumption, weight, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Basically a "rubber engine" is a concept. It's the idea that your plane has an engine, but it doesn't have locked-in specs. $\endgroup$
    – Nelson
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ "Single numbers" can be viewed as a (small) table, so Peter's answer still applies. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft Yes, Peter's answer does still apply, I only wanted to point out that one doesn't need to generate/have "tables of engine data" (i.e. more than one set of numbers) to employ the rubber engine concept. Additionally, single parameters can be modified without having "all other parameters change accordingly." While scaling the other parameters might be a good idea, ultimately it's up to the designer to keep the engine specifications reasonable. Peter's answer is correct, but in my opinion might convey too strict of a definition of what the rubber engine concept is intended to be. $\endgroup$
    – zaen
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 18:31

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