The reason that vast numbers of people fly these days is because flying is relatively inexpensive. Once the aircraft has been paid for, the big operating cost for airlines is the cost of the fuel, and fuel efficiency has increased by over 45% since the 1940s. Aircraft have become increasingly fuel efficient by changing from turbojet engines, where all the air from the compressor blades (the large blades that you can see at the front of the engine) passes through the engine, to turbofans, where most of the air traveling through the compressor blades passes around the engine, with increasingly higher bypass ratios (the amount of air that goes around the engine compared to the amount of air that passes through the engine). An essential step is to run the engine hotter, which improves efficiency. The key to doing this was the introduction and development of nickel-based superalloys used for the turbine blades in the hottest part of the engine.
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