The Institute of Jet Propulsion was founded on April 1, 1980, under the direction of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Leonhard Fottner. Initially, the institute's infrastructure was built up and then continuously expanded. In the following years, a considerable number of test facilities were built up. In addition to the engine test facility and the high-speed grid wind tunnel, which was taken over from DLR Braunschweig in 1985, a compressor test rig with a 5-stage axial compressor and a test rig for blow-off air systems were put into operation.

Prof. Fottner's achievements were recognized by numerous memberships and awards worldwide, such as the Scientific Achievement Award of AGARD (Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development) in 1994.

After Prof. Fottner's sudden death in June 2002, the institute's management was temporarily taken over by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Werner Staudacher. Since March 1, 2006, the Institute for Jet Propulsion Systems has been headed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Reinhard Niehuis, who previously worked for 13 years in the development department at MTU Aero Engines in Munich and for 8 years as university professor and head of the Institute for Jet Propulsion Systems and Turbo Machinery at RWTH Aachen University. Under his leadership, special attention will be paid to the continuous development of the institute's research capabilities. This concerns the continuous improvement and consistent expansion of the experimental facilities, the modernization and expansion of the measurement and experimental technology used, as well as the support of the experimental research activities through the accompanying use of powerful numerical computational methods, including their further development.

An important milestone in the institute's recent history was the establishment of the More Electric Engine competence center with MTU Aero Engines in 2007. As part of the competence center, a new test vehicle was put into operation at the institute's engine test facility in collaboration with industrial partner MTU and with financial support from the government of Upper Bavaria. This so-called MexJET aero engine is based on a prototype of one of Europe's currently most advanced military engines, the EJ200. Following the successful completion of the conversion work to enable the engine test facility to operate such a powerful jet engine and its successful first run, a state-of-the-art aircraft engine is now available as an additional test vehicle for a wide range of research tasks.

Another milestone was the overhaul and modernization of the high-speed grid wind tunnel carried out in 2017. In a rebuild phase of only four months, all main components such as the drive motor, gearbox, axial compressor and main cooler were replaced by components of the latest technical standard and higher performance. By installing and commissioning a data acquisition system of the latest technology, the very intensively used large-scale test stand has been made fit for future demanding research tasks. The test stand is now one of the facilities with the widest range of operating points and the uniqueness of the facility in the research landscape ensures the future viability of the research facility for decades to come.

In addition to the experimental investigations, numerical investigations have been carried out on a wide range of issues in turbomachinery aerodynamics since the institute was founded. Numerics is an ideal complement to the diverse experimental investigations at the institute's test stands. In the numerical field, the validation of the applied flow solvers on the basis of experimentally obtained data as well as the use of the validated flow solvers to support the scientific analysis of experimental data and to develop an improved understanding of the complex flow phenomena in turbomachinery are the main focus of the work. They are also used in the evaluation and improvement of turbomachinery components.

Current research work focuses, among other things, on the aerodynamics of application-oriented compressor and turbine profiles, the heat transfer of cooled components, the secondary flows in turbomachinery blading, the flow manipulation of turbomachinery flows with passive and active measures, compressor instabilities, pumping limit early detection in engine compressors, complex engine intakes, inlet disturbances, and the aerodynamics of engine test facilities.

The research results of the Institute of Jet Propulsion are regularly presented at all important international turbomachinery conferences. The practical relevance of the research work at the institute is ensured by constant contact and intensive cooperation with major companies in the turbomachinery industry, such as MTU Aero Engines, MAN Turbo & Diesel SE, Rolls Royce Deutschland and General Electric.

The importance of teaching at the institute is illustrated by the provision of a test facility with a single-stage centrifugal compressor, a single-stage axial-flow turbine and a real aero engine for the practical course in propulsion technology. Furthermore, numerous student projects are carried out on the small gas turbine test rig, the other test rigs or in the numerical field. All test facilities are instrumented and enable the students to record and evaluate measured values independently.