In aviation, horsepower (hp) is not a measure of average jet speed. Horsepower is a unit of measurement used to describe the rate at which work is done or the power of a motor. Horsepower can be divided into different types:
- Mechanical/Imperial horsepower
- Metric horsepower
- Electrical horsepower
- Boiler horsepower
- Hydraulic horsepower
- Air horsepower
The History of Horsepower
The term was originally created to describe the capability of a steam engine. It compared the amount of power created by a steam engine to the power provided by a horse.
Horsepower in Aviation
As previously stated, horsepower isn’t a common measurement in aviation. When determining the average jet speed of any aircraft, miles per hour is the standard speed measurement.
However, through some advanced calculations using force, speed, and other measurements, the speed of a jet can be determined using horsepower as a measurement.
For example, a modern jet engine, like one found in a Boeing 777 can produce 115,3000 pounds of force. After crunching numbers through a variety of different equations, the horsepower of a Boeing 777 ends up being approximately 160,000hp.
To put things into perspective, a brand new 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby checks in at a whopping 526hp. As you can see, a Boeing 777 flies nearly 300 times faster than a Mustang Shelby.