AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

What is a Thrust Reverser and how does it work?

When it comes to aircraft technology, there are countless components and systems that contribute to safe and efficient vehicle operation. With this in mind, one crucial device that plays a vital role in aircraft landing and deceleration equipment is the thrust reverser. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of thrust reversers by exploring what they are, how they work, and why they are essential in modern aviation.

Understanding Thrust Reversers

Primarily used during the aircraft’s landing phase, the thrust reverser is a mechanism found in many jet engines. Its purpose is to redirect the airflow and reverse the direction of the engine's thrust, providing a powerful braking force that aids in deceleration. By harnessing the power of the engine in reverse, thrust reversers enhance the aircraft's ability to slow down and even shorten the required runway distance for landing.

Working Mechanisms

Thrust reversers employ various designs, but they generally consist of three main components: blocker doors, cascade vanes, and target doors. Here, we will briefly explore each of these components and their functions:

  • Blocker Doors: Located in the engine's exhaust duct, blocker doors serve as the initial line of defense in redirecting exhaust gasses. When the thrust reverser is activated, these doors swing into position, blocking the forward flow of exhaust gasses and preventing them from exiting the rear of the engine.
  • Cascade Vanes: Positioned immediately behind the blocker doors, cascade vanes act as a redirecting surface for exhaust gasses and guide airflow in a forward direction, thereby diverting it to the sides of the engine nacelle. This redirection creates a counteracting force that assists in decelerating the aircraft.
  • Target Doors: Positioned at the rear of the engine nacelle, target doors provide the final redirection for the airflow. As the cascade vanes redirect the gasses laterally, the target doors open, allowing airflow to exit through the sides of the engine. This exit flow opposes the forward thrust and contributes to the braking effect.

Lock Combat and Carburetor Float

While the primary purpose of thrust reversers is to aid in landing and deceleration, they can also combat a phenomenon known as lock combat during flight. Lock combat occurs when two engines that are mounted on the same wing experience asymmetric reverse thrust, which can lead to unwanted yawing moments, making it challenging for pilots to maintain control.

To mitigate lock combat, some aircraft are equipped with a system called carburetor float. Carburetor float prevents both engines from going into reverse thrust simultaneously by ensuring that one engine fully transitions into reverse thrust before the other engine can even begin its reverse cycle. As a result, this sequential operation helps maintain stability and control during landing.


Enhancing the safety and efficiency of aircraft during landing and deceleration, thrust reversers are an important component in modern aviation. By redirecting the engine's exhaust gasses in reverse, they provide a powerful braking force that reduces runway distance requirements. Therefore, understanding the functions of the blocker doors, cascade vanes, and target doors in thrust reverser mechanisms gives us insight into their complexity and precision required to achieve optimal performance.

If you require a thrust reverser for your aircraft, it is essential to source from a reputable manufacturer. At Fastener Orbit, your safety and your aircraft’s efficiency is important to us. We proudly offer quality-tested parts like thrust reversers, and because we are a leading aviation and NSN parts distributor, customers have access to over 2 billion items that are new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our offerings or services, be sure to give us a call or email at your earliest convenience; we are available 24/7x365!


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