Propeller aerodynamics

The aircraft propeller is composed of 2 or an ext blades and a main hub to which the chisels are attached.

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Each tongue of an plane propeller is basically a rotating wing. As a an outcome of your construction, the propeller knives are favor airfoils and also produce forces that create the thrust to pull, or push, the plane through the air.

The power needed to rotate the propeller knives is furnished by the engine. The engine rotates the airfoils that the blades through the air in ~ high speeds, and the propeller transforms the rotating power that the engine right into forward thrust.

An airplane moving through the air create a drag pressure opposing its forward motion. Consequently, if an aircraft is come fly, there should be a force used to it the is equal to the drag, yet acting forward. This force is dubbed “thrust.”


Figure 1: Airfoil sections of propeller blade.

A cross section of a typical propeller blade is presented in number 1. This section or blade facet is one airfoil similar to a cross section of an plane wing. One surface of the blade is cambered or curved, similar to the upper surface ar of an airplane wing, while the other surface is level like the bottom surface ar of a wing. The chord line is an imagine line drawn through the tongue from its leading edge come its rolling edge. As in a wing, the top edge is the special edge of the blade the meets the air together the propeller rotates.


Figure 2: Propeller blade angle.

Blade angle, typically measured in degrees, is the angle in between the chord that the blade and the airplane of rotation and is measured at a details point follow me the length of the blade. Due to the fact that most propellers have actually a level blade “face,” the chord heat is often drawn along the challenge of the propeller blade. Key is not the same as tongue angle, but since pitch is largely determined by tongue angle, the 2 terms are often used interchangeably. Boost or to decrease in one is usually connected with rise or diminish in the other.

The key of a propeller may be designated in inches. A propeller designated as a “74-48” would be 74 customs in length and also have an effective pitch of 48 inches. The key in inch is the street which the propeller would certainly screw through the air in one change if there were no slippage.

When specifying a fixed-pitch propeller for a new kind of airplane, the manufacturer usually selects one with a pitch that will operate successfully at the expected cruising rate of the airplane.

Unfortunately, however, every fixed-pitch propeller should be a compromise, because it can be reliable at only a given combination of airspeed and also r.p.m. Pilots execute not have actually it within their power to readjust this combination in flight.

When the aircraft is at rest on the ground v the engine operating, or moving slowly at the start of takeoff, the propeller effectiveness is very low because the propeller is restrained from proceeding with enough speed to allow its fixed-pitch knives to with their complete efficiency. In this situation, each propeller tongue is transforming through the air at an edge of assault that produces reasonably little thrust for the amount of power forced to turn it.

To recognize the activity of a propeller, consider first its motion, i m sorry is both rotational and forward.

Thus, as shown by the vectors the propeller pressures in figure 2, each ar of a propeller blade moves downward and forward. The angle at i beg your pardon this waiting (relative wind) strikes the propeller blade is its angle of attack. The air deflection produced by this angle reasons the dynamic press at the engine next of the propeller tongue to be better than atmospheric, thus creating thrust.

The shape of the blade additionally creates thrust, since it is cambered prefer the airfoil shape of a wing.

Consequently, together the wait flows previous the propeller, the pressure on one next is less than the on the other. Together in a wing, this produce a reaction pressure in the direction that the lesser pressure. In the situation of a wing, the air flow over the wing has actually less pressure, and also the pressure (lift) is upward. In the instance of the propeller, i beg your pardon is placed in a vertical rather of a horizontal plane, the area of decreased pressure is in prior of the propeller, and the force (thrust) is in a front direction.

Aerodynamically, then, thrust is the an outcome of the propeller shape and the angle of assault of the blade.

Another means to take into consideration thrust is in regards to the fixed of air handled by the propeller. In these terms, thrust is equal to the mass of waiting handled, time the slipstream velocity, minus the velocity that the airplane. The power expended in creating thrust counts on the price of air mass movement.

On the average, thrust constitutes approximately 80 percent of the talk (total horsepower absorbed by the propeller). The various other 20 percent is lost in friction and also slippage. For any kind of speed that rotation, the horsepower took in by the propeller balances the horsepower yielded by the engine.

For any kind of single change of the propeller, the lot of waiting handled counts on the tongue angle, which identify how large a “bite” of air the propeller takes. Thus, the blade edge is fantastic means of adjusting the pack on the propeller to manage the engine r.p.m.

The blade angle is also terrific method that adjusting the angle of assault of the propeller. On constant-speed propellers, the blade angle should be adjusted to administer the most effective angle of assault at every engine and airplane speeds. Elevator versus traction curves, i m sorry are attracted for propellers and wings, show that the most efficient angle of attack is a small one differing from 2° to 4° positive. The actual tongue angle essential to maintain this small angle of attack varies through the forward speed of the airplane.

Fixed-pitch and also ground-adjustable propellers are designed for finest efficiency at one rotation and also forward speed. They room designed for a given aircraft and engine combination. A propeller might be supplied that provides the best propeller performance for either takeoff, climb, cruise, or high-speed flight.

Any change in these conditions results in lowering the effectiveness of both the propeller and also the engine.

Since the efficiency of any device is the proportion of the helpful power output to the actual power input, propeller effectiveness is the proportion of thrust horsepower to brake horsepower. Propeller efficiency varies native 50 come 87 percent, depending on how much the propeller “slips.”

Propeller on slide is the difference in between the geometric pitch of the propeller and also its efficient pitch.


Figure 3: Propeller slippage.

Geometric key is the theoretical street a propeller should breakthrough in one revolution; efficient pitch is the street it actually advances. Thus, geometric or theoretical key is based upon no slippage, but actual or reliable pitch consists of propeller slippage in the air.

The factor a propeller is “twisted” is that the external parts the the propeller blades, choose all things that turn around a main point, travel much faster than the portions near the hub.


Figure 4: Propeller tips travel much faster than hubs.

If the blades had the same geometric pitch throughout their lengths, in ~ cruise speed the portions close to the hub can have an unfavorable angles of attack while the propeller tips would be stalled. “Twisting,” or sport in the geometric key of the blades, patent the propeller to operate with a relatively consistent angle of attack along its length when in setravel flight. To placed it another way, propeller knives are twisted to readjust the blade angle in proportion come the distinctions in rate of rotation along the length of the propeller and also thereby store thrust much more nearly equalized along this length.

Usually 1° to 4° gives the most efficient lift/drag ratio, however in trip the propeller angle of attack of a fixed-pitch propeller will certainly vary—normally native 0° come 15°. This sport is caused by changes in the loved one airstream which subsequently results from changes in plane speed. In short, propeller angle of assault is the product of two motions: propeller rotation around its axis and its front motion.

A constant-speed propeller, however, instantly keeps the blade angle changed for maximum effectiveness for most conditions encountered in flight.

During takeoff, when maximum power and also thrust room required, the constant-speed propeller is in ~ a low propeller blade edge or pitch. The short blade edge keeps the edge of attack tiny and effective with respect to the loved one wind. At the very same time, it allows the propeller to handle a smaller mass that air every revolution. This light load enables the engine to turn at high r.p.m. And to convert the maximum amount of fuel right into heat energy in a given time. The high r.p.m. Additionally creates maximum thrust; for, back the fixed of air handled per transformation is small, the number of revolutions every minute is many, the slipstream velocity is high, and also with the low plane speed, the thrust is maximum.

After liftoff, as the speed of the airplane increases, the constant-speed propeller immediately changes to a higher angle (or pitch). Again, the greater blade angle keeps the angle of attack tiny and effective with respect to the loved one wind. The higher blade angle increases the massive of air handled per revolution.

This reduce the engine r.p.m., reducing fuel consumption and engine wear, and keeps thrust at a maximum.

After the takeoff climb is developed in an aircraft having a controllable-pitch propeller, the pilot reduces the strength output of the engine come climb strength by an initial decreasing the manifold pressure and also then increasing the blade edge to lower the r.p.m.

At seafaring altitude, as soon as the plane is in level flight and also less strength is compelled than is used in takeoff or climb, the pilot again to reduce engine power by reducing the manifold pressure and then raising the blade angle to diminish the r.p.m. Again, this provides a torque requirement to complement the reduced engine power; for, although the massive of air taken on per change is greater, the is much more than counter by a diminish in slipstream velocity and an increase in airspeed. The edge of attack is still little because the tongue angle has been increased with rise in airspeed.

Torque and P factor

To the pilot, “torque” (the left turning tendency of the airplane) is comprised of four aspects which reason or produce a twisting or rotating motion about at the very least one that the airplane’s three axes. This four facets are:

talk Reaction indigenous Engine and also Propeller.

Corkscrewing effect of the Slipstream.

Gyroscopic activity of the Propeller.

Asymmetric Loading of the Propeller (P Factor).

Torque reaction

Torque reaction entails Newton’s third Law the Physics—for every action, over there is an equal and also opposite reaction. As applied to the airplane, this method that together the inner engine parts and propeller are revolving in one direction, an equal force is make the efforts to rotate the aircraft in the contrary direction.


Figure 5: speak reaction.

When the plane is airborne, this force is acting about the longitudinal axis, tending to make the airplane roll. Come compensate because that this, some of the enlarge airplanes room rigged in a manner to create much more lift top top the wing the is being forced downward. The more modern-day airplanes are designed with the engine counter to against this effect of torque.

NOTE—Most joined States constructed aircraft engines turn the propeller clockwise, as regarded from the pilot’s seat. The discussion here is with reference to those engines.

Generally, the compensating determinants are permanently set so that they compensate because that this pressure at seafaring speed, since most the the airplane’s operation lift is at that speed. However, aileron trim tabs permit more adjustment for various other speeds.

When the airplane’s wheels space on the ground during the takeoff roll, an additional turning moment roughly the upright axis is induced by torque reaction.

As the left side of the airplane is being compelled down by torque reaction, much more weight is being inserted on the left key landing gear. This outcomes in much more ground friction, or drag, top top the left tire 보다 on the right, leading to a further transforming moment come the left. The size of this minute is dependency on countless variables. Some of these variables are: (1) size and also horsepower that engine, (2) size of propeller and also the r.p.m., (3) size of the airplane, and (4) condition of the floor surface.

This yawing minute on the takeoff roll is corrected by the pilot’s appropriate use that the rudder or rudder trim.

Corkscrew effect

The high-speed rotation that an airplane propeller provides a corkscrew or spiraling rotation to the slipstream.

At high propeller speeds and low forward speed (as in the takeoffs and also approaches to strength on stalls), this spiraling rotation is an extremely compact and also exerts a strong sideward pressure on the airplane’s vertical tail surface.


Figure 6: Corkscrewing slipstream.

When this spiraling slipstream strikes the upright fin ~ above the left, it causes a left turning moment around the airplane’s upright axis. The more compact the spiral, the more prominent this pressure is. As the forward speed increases, however, the spiral elongates and also becomes less effective.

The corkscrew flow of the slipstream likewise causes a roll moment about the longitudinal axis.

Note the this rolling moment caused by the corkscrew circulation of the slipstream is come the right, when the rolling moment led to by torque reaction is to the left—in effect one might be counteracting the other. However, these pressures vary greatly and also it is up to the pilot to apply proper correction activity by use of the flight controls at all times. These pressures must it is in counteracted nevertheless of i m sorry is the most influential at the time.

Gyroscopic action

Before the gyroscopic results of the propeller have the right to be understood, it is essential to recognize the an easy principle of a gyroscope.

All practical applications the the gyroscope are based top top two an essential properties that gyroscopic action: rigidity in an are and precession. The one of interest because that this discussion is precession.


Figure 7: Gyroscopic precession.

Precession is the resultant action, or deflection, that a spinning rotor when a deflecting pressure is applied to the rim. As deserve to be viewed in number 7, once a force is applied, the resulting force takes effect 90° ahead of and also in the direction the rotation.

The rotating propeller that an airplane makes a very great gyroscope and also thus has comparable properties. Any kind of time a pressure is applied to direction the propeller the end of its plane of rotation, the resulting force is 90° ahead of and also in the direction of rotation and in the direction of application, bring about a pitching moment, a yawing moment, or a combination of the two depending upon the allude at which the pressure was applied.

This facet of torque effect has always been connected with and also considered much more prominent in tailwheel-type airplanes, and most frequently occurs as soon as the tail is gift raised throughout the takeoff roll.


Figure 8: elevating tail to produce gyroscopic precession.

This readjust in pitch mindset has the same effect as applying a force to the top of the propeller’s airplane of rotation. The resultant pressure acting 90° ahead causes a yawing minute to the left about the upright axis. The size of this moment depends on numerous variables, one of which is the abruptness with which the tail is raised (amount of force applied). However, precession, or gyroscopic action, occurs when a pressure is applied to any suggest on the pickled in salt of the propeller’s airplane of rotation; the resultant pressure will still be 90° native the allude of application in the direction the rotation. Relying on where the force is applied, the plane is caused to yaw left or right, to pitch up or down, or a combination of pitching and also yawing.

It can be said that together a an outcome of gyroscopic action—any yawing approximately the vertical axis outcomes in a pitching moment, and also any pitching around the lateral axis results in a yawing moment.

To correct for the result of gyroscopic action, that is vital for the pilot to properly use elevator and rudder to protect against undesired pitching and also yawing.

Asymmetric loading (P-factor)

When an airplane is flying through a high angle of attack, the “bite” of the downward relocating blade is better than the “bite” of the upward relocating blade; for this reason moving the center of thrust to the ideal of the prop disc area—causing a yawing minute toward the left around the vertical axis.

That explanation is correct; however, come prove this phenomenon, it would certainly be important to occupational wind vector troubles on each blade, which gets quite connected when considering both the angle of attack of the airplane and the edge of attack of each blade.

This asymmetric loading is resulted in by the result velocity, i beg your pardon is created by the mix of the velocity of the propeller tongue in its aircraft of rotation and the velocity that the wait passing horizontally v the propeller “disc.” v the plane being flown at positive angles the attack, the appropriate (viewed native the rear) or downswinging blade, is passing through an area of resultant velocity i beg your pardon is higher than that affecting the left or upswinging blade. Since the propeller blade is one airfoil, raised velocity means increased lift. Therefore, the downswinging tongue having more “lift” often tends to pull (yaw) the airplane’s sleep to the left.

Simply stated, when the airplane is paris at a high angle of attack, the downward moving blade has a greater resultant velocity; thus creating an ext lift than the upward relocating blade.


Figure 9: Asymmetrical loading the propeller (P-factor).

This might be much easier to visualize if the propeller shaft was mounted perpendicular to the ground (like a helicopter). If there were no air motion at all, except that generated by the propeller itself, identical sections of every blade would have actually the same airspeed. However, v air moving horizontally across this vertically placed propeller, the blade proceeding forward into the circulation of air will have actually a higher airspeed 보다 the tongue retreating with the airflow. Thus, the tongue proceeding right into the horizontal airflow is creating more lift, or thrust, moving the facility of thrust towards that blade. Visualize ROTATING the vertically mounted propeller pillar to shallower angles relative to the moving air (as on an airplane).

This unbalanced thrust then becomes proportionately smaller and continues obtaining smaller till it get the worth of zero once the propeller shaft is exactly horizontal in relation to the moving air.

Each of this four aspects of torque results vary in values with transforms in trip situations. In one step of flight, among these elements may be much more prominent than another; whereas, in one more phase that flight, an additional element might be more prominent.

The relationship of these worths to each various other will vary with various airplanes—depending on the AIRFRAME, ENGINE, and PROPELLER combinations and also other architecture features.

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To preserve positive manage of the aircraft in all flight conditions, the pilot must apply the trip controls as vital to compensate because that these varying values.

This concludes the propeller aerodynamics page. Please go back to the plane Powerplant web page to continue study.