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The first step of a propeller design date backs to 1493 when Leonardo Da vinci attempted a devise for a vertical flight. Though this helicopter (see fig 1) flying principle was never put to a reality, it dealt with the theory of “helical airscrew” similar to propulsion of modern day propeller. 
Fig 1: Helicopter rotor. Frank Ross (1953), “Helicopter rotor”. Flying Windmills. [Online] Available at st <http://www.aviastar.org/history/index.html> Accessed on 01 Dec 2010
The propeller acts in similar fashion to a helical screw driven through solid medium to propel through air. It was not until numerous experiments that took from 1700’s to early 1800’s century lead to the conclusion of straightened airscrew blades for more propulsive efficiency. Jean Baptiste was the first to design a hot air balloon driven by propellers to lift into the skies of Paris in 1783. However, the development of hot air balloons did not progress for long, owing to lack of directional control and the potential fire hazards of the gases involved. Attempts for powered flight were made during the late 18th century but none met success until in 1903 when Wright brother flew the first engine driven propeller aircraft. 
[Online] Available at < nd http://ecampus. so efficiency of propeller in design and construction were paramount importance for the optimum aerodynamic performance in flight.ac. “Twisted Blade”.php?id=51647&chapterid=6976> Accessed on 02 Dec 2010 KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 2 . Unlike in wings. Lift that produced by the propeller aerofoil is considered as the thrust that propels the aircraft forward.D (2010). the root would have a negative angle of attack and the tip would stall due to the increase of rotational velocity across the blade from root to tip. Stefan Drzewiecki in 1900. Solution soon came with the innovation of twisted blade configuration by Polish scientist.nmit.   Fig2: Twisted Blade. Shaun.2. EVOLUTION OF PROPELLERS PITCH CONTROL SYSTEMS: The propellers were no different from the aerofoil used to generate lift in airplanes. If the angle of attack were the same from the root to the tip of the blade. NMIT. eliminating undue bending forces on the blade. This design essentially helps blade to work at the optimum angle of attack at all its working sections (see fig 2 & 3) and keeps uniform distribution of lift across the blade.nz/moodle/mod/book/view.
so operation of the engine in its optimum design configuration were never achieved.  KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 3 . they possess optimum operation characteristics only at a particular speed and RPM.nz/moodle/mod/book/view.ac. This also led to awful lot of work to pilots keeping the engine RPM constant. NMIT [Online] Available at < nd http://ecampus. “Aerodynamic Forces”. D (2010).php?id=51647&chapterid=7214 > Accessed on 02 Dec 2010 FIXED-PITCH PROPELLER Early propellers were fixed pitch. Shaun. Inconsistent engine RPM due to varying torque from different flying conditions on the propeller blades were shortcomings of such designs.Fig 3: Aerodynamics forces.nmit. So it’s always a compromise between climb or cruise performance.
VARIABLE-PITCH PROPELLER It was not until in 1871 the French scientist named J. Croce-Spinelli made the proposal for a variable pitch propeller mechanism by using hydraulic pressure for higher aerodynamic performances. They could broadly classified two types. D (2010). “Ground adjustable Propeller”. Adjustment only be done on ground and often require disassembling of propeller blades from the hub (see fig 4).ac. NMIT [Online] Available at < th http://ecampus. ground adjustable and controllable pitch propeller.nz/moodle/mod/book/view. i. For instance.e. Such an adjustment is always biased for optimum performances in either of climb or cruise phase of flight. blade angle (High) positioned for cruise phase will impede the acceleration during takeoff by reducing Max engine RPM from increasing torque and hence the need for more runway at takeoff.php?id=51647&chapterid=8655 > Accessed on 5 Dec 2010. requires merely mechanical adjustment of the pitch by ground tools. KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 4 .  Fig 4:Ground adjustable Propeller Shaun.nmit. The ground adjustable being the simplest of all.
McCauley.By the end of World War I.textron. it was soon realized the need for further improvement on mechanism of variable pitch propellers for high speed flying at high altitudes. “ Pitch Mechanism”. This gives the counter rotation of the blades and hence the desired pitch. [Online] Available at < http://www.com/prop/prop-tech/pg02var-ptch.html > Accessed on 04th Dec 2010 KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 5 . Pins Fig 5: Pitch Mechanism Author Unknown (2010). This cause linkage connected to the offset actuating pins (see fig 5) machined at the butt of each blade to move. This necessitates the operation of In-flight adjustable propeller blades that could be manipulated by the pilot. The first type is the two-position variable propeller which changed to either fine or course pitch. This only pressurizes at one end of the piston and reseats to its original position by the help of spring forces on releasing the oil pressure. The mechanism usually operated by single acting propeller actuation driven by hydraulic pressure.mccauley. By opening the valves to the pressure port or to the return port fine pitch adjustment for takeoff configuration or course pitch for cruise phase is accomplished.
The opposite forces produce by these components causes the movement of the pilot valve to change the oil flow in or out of the piston chamber. The reason for low pitch angle for takeoff is to maintain optimum angle of attack while achieving a High rpm output of the propeller.  KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 6 . automatic pitch control propellers were soon developed. CONSTANT SPEED PROPELLER: Following the World War II. The governor consists of a speeder spring and a rotating flyweight attached to the driveshaft driven by the engine. This essentially lowers the specific fuel consumption in flight.  The mechanism involved hydraulically or electrically operated means of actuation. This helps in slowing down an over speeding propeller and vice-versa. the operation became cheaper and efficient. Hence. This extended to operate an optimum blade angle for all flying condition and enables extracting of maximum thrust over wide range RPM and airspeed combinations. (See fig 6). It utilizes a governor to maintain the selected RPM by the propeller lever. This configuration however changes to courser position at cruise phase to gain a reduced engine rpm for fuel saving while maintaining a maximum thrust.
Lippetti D (2010). When the engine RPM is operating at the selected RPM setting. [Online] Available at < http://www. However. GOVERNOR OPERATION: The direction of piston valve movement determines the direction of flow in or out of the piston. the centrifugal forces acting on the flyweight are balanced out by the opposing speeder spring and hence pilot valve forms a hydraulic lock and locks the blade angle in its position.lainesite. CFI.pdf > Accessed on 05th Dec 2010. when the engine RPM increases above the selected RPM. L. This result an increasing centrifugal force on the flyweights to overcome the speeder KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 7 . governor senses an over speed condition. “Governor Assembly”.com/PDFs/cs_prop_basics. The movement of the piston valve is governed by which of the opposing forces produced by the flyweight and speeder spring takes precedence over the other (see fig 7). The governor is then said to be on-speed.Fig 6: Governor Assembly. Tammer.
driving the flyweights inwards.  Fig7 : Governor Operation Shaun. the pilot valve returns to its neutral position and locks the blade from any further movement. NMIT. “Governor Operation”.ac. D (2010). [Online] Available at < th http://ecampus. thus lowering the RPM. The loss of speed by the propeller causes the speeder spring tension to overcome the losing centrifugal force of the flyweights. Thereby pushing pilot valve downwards and draining the oil to the oil sump. In both under and over speed condition once desired RPM is achieved.nmit.nz/moodle/mod/book/view. During under-speed condition of the governor works exactly opposite. The increase in angle of attack of the propeller blades increases the aerodynamic drag (more torque). This lowers the oil pressure in the piston chamber and causes the spring force to push the piston aft and reduce the blade angle.php?id=51647&chapterid=7235> Accessed on 5 Dec 2010 KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 8 . This reduces the potential aerodynamic drag on the blades and increases the RPM accordingly. Raising the pilot valve open to the pressure lines and thereby moving the piston overcoming the spring pressure to increase the blade angle.spring tension and causing the flyweight tilt outwards.
“Propeller Control Lever”. Lippetti D (2010).pdf > Accessed on 05th Dec 2010.lainesite. L. [Online] Available at < http://www. KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 9 .com/PDFs/cs_prop_basics.Following diagrams (see fig 8) shows how propeller control lever could simulate a false overspeed or underspeed conditions to increase or decrease the RPM output of the propeller: Pilot selects higher RPM: PROPELLER CONTROL LEVER Pilot selects lower RPM: Fig 8: Propeller control Lever-RPM selection Tammer. CFI.
ac.php?id=51647&chapterid=7235> Accessed on 5 Dec 2010 The following mechanism uses fully hydraulically actuated piston to drive a piston rearward or forward within the propeller assembly. They served an appreciable improvement in reliability and efficiency of variable pitch mechanism to conventional systems then. “Hydromatic Dome Assembly”. which causes the piston ram to move the cam rollers within two oppositely oriented cylindrical cam. To meet the requirements of fast acting control systems of military jets for extreme maneuvers and accommodation of larger blades were only possible with the advent of hydromatic propeller developed by the Hamilton Standards in late 1930s. Shaun. One being outer cam is held fixed to the hub while the inner cam rotates.nz/moodle/mod/book/view. The movement of the ram piston rotates a bevel gear that is intermeshed with two other bevel gears located at KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 10 . HYDROMATIC PROP CONTROL: FULLY HYDRAULIC ACTUATION The early-discussed mechanisms were pure hydro-mechanical in operation. D (2010). NMIT [Online] Available at < th http://ecampus.  Fig 9: Hydromatic Dome Assembly.nmit.
The bevel gears then drive the blades to higher blade angle and hence reducing the RPM. NMIT [Online] Available at < th http://ecampus. which drives the piston forward. The movement of the piston is controlled by the governor and controls the blade angle (see fig 9). “Overspeed Condition”. During overspeed condition the centrifugal forces exceeds the speeder spring and pulls the pilot valve upward(see fig 10).nz/moodle/mod/book/view. The movement slides the cam rollers in the slots and converts the linear motion of the ram to rotary motion of the cylindrical cam.each blade butt.php?id=51647&chapterid=7235> Accessed on 5 Dec 2010 The operation is similar to the governor previously discussed. D (2010). DRIVESHAFT Fig 10: Overspeed condition Shaun. KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 11 .ac.nmit. This uncovers port from the boost pump and pressurizes the inboard end of the piston and expelling the fluid from the outboard end.
ac.php?id=51647&chapterid=7235> Accessed on 5 Dec 2010 It works exactly opposite how it worked in an overspeed condition. acceleration of the RPM is observed. Windmilling is a result of negative torque on the propeller blade trying to drive the dead engine by using airstream.  Feathering Mechanism: Feathering is a mechanism built-in to counter asymmetric drag caused by an engine failure in a multi-engine aircraft. the pilot valve is forced downwards covering the port from the boost pump in the driveshaft and opening the drain port of the driveshaft (see fig 11). This drains the oil out from the inboard side of the piston and by the loss pressure cause the rearward movement of the piston. This is caused by illusion on the governor sensing of a low RPM and driving to a fine KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 12 . D (2010). Thus.DRIVESHAFT Fig 11: Underspeed Condition Shaun. NMIT [Online] Available at < th http://ecampus. This feature is in cooperated to prevent the occurring of a windmilling by the failed engine.nmit. “Underspeed Condition”. This time round.nz/moodle/mod/book/view.
full feathering propellers are always designed to decrease the blade pitch with increasing oil pressure. By doing so. ”.pilotoutlook. Fig 12: Propeller Drag Author unknown(2010).nz/moodle/mod/book/view. this essentially make the mechanism to drive to courser pitch following the loss of oil pressure from the failed engine.com/airplane_flying/propellers> Accessed on 5 Dec 2010 Therefore. it produces a negative thrust on the blades. Pilot Outlook.  Fig 13: Feathered configuration Shaun.ac. D (2010).php?id=51647&chapterid=7214 > Accessed on 02 Dec 2010 KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 13 .com. hence an increase in drag. “Propeller Drag”. Feathering of blades drives the blade angle to 900 (see fig 13) and aligns the blades parallel to the airstream producing no thrust (lift) or drag. [Online] Available at < th http://www. “Feathered Position”.nmit.blade pitch (See fig 12). NMIT [Online] Available at < nd http://ecampus.
 KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 14 . the latch spring engages itself to the slotted piston grooves. As the centrifugal forces decreases gradually with reducing RPM. The latching pins remains disengaged by the increased centrifugal force from high RPM. Hence. However. NMIT [Online] Available at < th http://ecampus.ac. Fig 14: Feathering Props Shaun. comes from the added counterweights combined with the spring pressure.nmit. this force would not be enough to drive the blades to the fully feather position against increasing aerodynamic forces.php?id=51647&chapterid=7235> Accessed on 5 Dec 2010 In order to prevent feathering action during engine shutdown and causing unacceptable load for the starter motor on an engine start-up.Operation Of Feathering: During an engine failure.nz/moodle/mod/book/view. D (2010). so the extra force needed. the oil pressure in the piston drops significantly and the spring pressure will overcome the loss oil pressure to drive the piston to the left(See fig 14). The mechanism includes the centrifugal latching pins that engage into the piston grooves and prevent it from moving to the feathered position. stopping any further movement. “Feathering Props”.
D (2010).php?id=51647&chapterid=7214 > Accessed on 02 Dec 2010 KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 15 . “Beta Mode”. This could only be activated only once the aircraft is on ground. This effectively makes the propeller work as reverse thrust which significantly reduce the landing strip and reduces the wear and tear of the brakes. ”. NMIT [Online] Available at < nd http://ecampus.nmit.nz/moodle/mod/book/view.ac.  Fig 15: Beta Mode Shaun.Beta Mode: Certain Turbo-prop aircraft are equipped with Beta Mode whereby the blade angle could be repositioned beyond the low pitch stop to negative angle of attack (see fig 15).
Increasing blade diameter to achieve the optimum power transfer wasn’t an acceptable means of approach for the problem. With aluminum. This reduces the potential of an onset of shock wave and became preferable choice of design for high speed propeller aircraft.  As the engines became more and more powerful over the years. The solutions came up with beginning of industrial revolution by using aluminum alloys for its construction. The delaying of shockwave formation by the sweptback design. Solution came up by increasing the number of blades with shorter diameter. This is due to increasing diameter was limited by the ground clearance and the onset shock waves at the propeller tips. The fact that density of wood is not uniform in its construction cause static and dynamic unbalance of the propellers during its operation. BLADE DESIGN EVOLUTION In the past. Tip of the airfoil takes the shape of a supercritical wing to achieve the characteristics mentioned above while the mid section is slightly KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 16 . lowers the transonic drag and reduces the noise induced. there was equal need for efficient absorption of power produced by the engine. This propeller in cooperates different airfoils shapes progressively across the blade cross section and introduced a sweptback design at the tips to counter the shock wave formation.3. the design of blades to complex shapes to achieve optimum aerodynamic performance was made possible. propellers were made of wooden planks but did not last long in service due to nature of wood easily subjected to warps and cracks propagating through the wood grains.  Evolution took a further step with the advent of “Blended Airfoil technology” enhancing the efficiency of the propeller design (see fig 16). This involves all time monitoring of wooden blades in service before takeoff.
Hartzell Corp.hartzellprop.com/news.  Fig 16: Blended Airfoil Author unknown (2010). “Blended Airfoil”.cambered to maximize the thrust at lower speed optimizing the cruise performance. [Online] Available at < th http://www.php?pr=209 > Accessed on 7 Dec 2010 KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 17 .
Author unknown (2010)..nmit. “History of aircraft Propellers” [Online] Available at < rd http://www.php?id=51647&chapterid=7235> th [Accessed on 8 Dec 2010] Author Unknown (2010).com/PDFs/cs_prop_basics. [Online] 10. 16.shtml> [Accessed on 7 Dec 2010] Author Unknown (2010).org/question/propulsion/q0039.nmit.htm> [Accessed on 3rd Dec 2010] 7.php?id=51647&chapterid=8655> th [Accessed on 6 Dec 2010] 6.gov/essay/Evolution_of_Technology/props/Tech14.html > [Accessed on 2nd Dec 2010] 4.nmit. NMIT. Author unknown (2009). Author Unknown (2010). “Lenardo da Vinci”. “ Number of Aircraft Propeller Blades”.pilotoutlook. NMIT [Online] Available at < http://ecampus.ac. “Beta Mode”.centennialofflight. 11. CFI.D (2010).com/article/418892/four_disadvantages_of_aircraft_propellers th _pg2. “Variable Pitch Propellers”.ac.html> [Accessed on 5 Dec 2010] Shaun. Available at < http://www. Shaun . “Basic Propeller Principles”.experimentalaircraft. 15.org.com/basic-propeller-principles-part-two/384/> [Accessed on 15 Dec 2010] 12. [online] Available at < st http://www. [Online] Available at <http://www.nz/moodle/mod/book/view. FlightLearn ing. A (2010).ac.info/homebuilt-aircraft/aircraft-propeller. L.S Centennial of flight commission. “The Hamilton Standard Hydromatic Propeller”. KINGSTON UNIVERSITY-K0827514 Page 18 . 17. J (2001).[Online] Available th ay <http://www. [Online] Available at < th http://vectaris. “Variable-Pitch Propellers”. REFERENCE: 1.com/history-of-flight.learning-tofly.php?id=51647&chapterid=7237> th [Accessed on 8 Dec 2010] Author Unknown (2010). Day.ac. [Online] Available at < http://www.shtml> [Accessed on 3 Dec 2010] 3.html> [ Accessed on 7 Dec 2010] 8. [Online] Available at < th http://www.net/id697. U. “Propellers”. Pilot Outlook. “ Blended Airfoil Technolgy” . [Online] Available at th <http://www. Aerospace web.textron.cc/db/8/asp17.aviastar. 14.com/airplane_flying/propellers > [Accessed on 8th Dec 2010] Swain.php?id=51647&chapterid=7214> th [Accessed on 5 Dec 2010] 5.com/news. D (2010). (2010).flightlearnings. “Disadvantages of Aircraft Made of Wooden Propellers”. NMIT.laine-site. 13. Author Unknown (2010).hartzellprop. Tammer. [Online] Available at < th http://www.nmit.nz/moodle/mod/book/view.com/prop/prop-tech/pg02var-ptch. Hartzell Corp.freeessays. [Online] Available at < http://ecampus. “ History of flight”. McCauley.aerospaceweb. D (2007).D (2010). Author unknown (2010). [online] Available at < http://www.4. “Aircraft Propellers”.html?cat=15> [Accessed on 5 Dec 2010] Scott.D (2010). [Online] Available at < http://www. “ Propeller Control”. “Propeller Types and Classification”.associatedcontent.php> [Accessed on 1 Dec 2010] 2. Lippetti D (2010) “Understanding Constant Speed Propellers”. [Online] Available at < http://ecampus. Duncan. Experimental Aircraft Info.pdf > Accessed on 05th Dec 2010. [Online] Available at <http://ecampus. “ Propeller Theory”. NMIT.php> [Accessed on 3rd Dec 2010] 9.php?pr=209 > [Accessed on 7 Dec 2010] Shaun. [Online] Available at < http://www.mccauley.nz/moodle/mod/book/view. Shaun .org/helicopters_eng/vinci.nz/moodle/mod/book/view.
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