Types of Aircraft Propellers

Posted on January 21, 2020 Jerold Perkins Aviation

A propeller is a device that generates rotational energy produced by the engine or other mechanical sources. There are many different types of aircraft propellers in use today, and even more that have been experimented with over the years. From fixed pitch propellers to metal and even wooden propellers, aviation history has seen several of these types come and go. Read on below for a basic outline of the many propellers used by aircraft.

Fixed Pitch Propellers

A fixed pitch propeller has the blade designed into a steep angle that cannot be changed or adjusted once built and put in place on the aircraft - hence the name fixed pitch. Generally, fixed pitch propellers are made up of one piece of wood or aluminum alloy and used on airplanes that have low speed and power. These propellers are manufactured so that they provide the best efficiency at forwarding speeds, and so that they fit a certain set of conditions of both airplane and engine speeds.

Constant Speed Propellers

A constant speed propeller is named as such because it accelerates or decelerates based on how the plane is flying. For instance, if the plane is ping, the propeller will speed up, whereas if the aircraft slows down, the propeller slows down. A propeller governor is used to sense the aircraft’s speed, the speed of which will trigger the governor to change the blade angle so as to maintain a set rpm. Using this governor allows the pilot to keep the engine speed constant and also allows for increasing and decreasing pitch.

Feathering Propellers

This category of propellers is used with aircraft that have multiple engines. Should one or more of these engines falter, then these propellers work to limit drag to a minimum. These propellers can change the blade angle to around 90 degrees. When altered, the blade is rotated to an angle that is parallel to the line of flight to greatly reduce the drag on the airplane. Once the blades have become parallel to the airstream, the aircraft propellers refrain from turning and windmilling is minimized.

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