Aircraft Propeller Theory

An internal combustion engine is designed to convert the reciprocating motion of the pistons into rotational motion at the crankshaft. This rotational motion is then be converted into a forward thrusting force by the propeller which powers the aircraft forward and is required to balance the drag produced by moving through the atmosphere.

This post will focus on the propeller and should provide a good overview of all aspects associated with light aircraft propellers. We will discuss the forces generated by, and acting on a propeller, the variables associated with propeller design, the types of propellers in use, and how the propeller should be operated and managed in flight.
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Fundamental Forces in Flight

Welcome to the first of a ten part series on the fundamentals of aircraft design. The aim of this series is to give you an introduction to the principles used by engineers in the design of a new aircraft. We start at the very beginning with Fundamentals of Flight, and progress through the various components of the aircraft: wing, fuselage, tail design. Finally we’ll end off with a off with some basic mathematical modelling of aircraft performance.

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Aircraft Engine and Propeller Sizing


Welcome to Part 10, the final installment in the Fundamentals of Aircraft Design series. In Part 9 we completed a preliminary drag estimation of a new light sport aircraft design. In this tutorial we build on from the drag estimation, and specify an engine and propeller combination in order to determine the variation in thrust with airspeed. By superimposing this thrust curve onto the drag graph, we can calculate the aircraft’s theoretical maximum speed, or speed at various engine power settings. Let’s get started!

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