1453. Advanced Propfan Testbed – “”A Progress Report””


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W E Warnock: 1453. Advanced Propfan Testbed – ”A Progress Report”. 1982.



During the 1960’s the rapid advance of high subsonic speed cruise technology, the abundance of relatively expensive fuel, together with the simplicity of the turbojet and turbofan caused a trend away from propellers because of the low efficiency at high subsonic speed. In recent years the escalation of fuel prices and occasional shortages have demonstrated the need for improved propulsive efficiency at high subsonic speeds, which in turn , has created renewed interest in propeller technology. Modern commercial passenger transports cruise at altitudes of 30,000 feet and above at Mach numbers in excess of 0.8. Analysis and tests of the advanced turboprop propulsion system – ‘Prop-Fan’ – have shown that at these conditions, the propfan can operate efficiently w i t h fuel savings relative to turbofans of 20 to 35 percent. As fuel costs continue to become a more significant portion of the Direct Operating Costs (DOC) th,e savings can result in DoC reductions of 5 to 10 percent.
Experimental work performed so far has used prop-fan models 24.5 in. in diameter. To enhance industry acceptance of the concept and to resolve questions and issues related to prop-fan technology readiness, large-scale tests are needed before design commitment to prop-fan propulsion can be approached with confidence. Since the high-speed cruise environment is difficult to simulate for large-scale propellers, a f light test program using prop-fan drive systems installed on a test bed aircraft is a necessary adjunct to the completed, current, and planned scale-model tests.
The purposes of the investigation from which this paper is taken were to:
– Identify those high-speed turboprop technology questions and issues best addressed through test of large-scale prop-fans i n the realistic flow field of a test bed aircraft installation and to establish the testbed program objectives and priorities.
– Identify propeller drive systems and aircraft combinations that best accomplish the objectives.
– Evaluate, recommend, and perform conceptual designs of two such system.
– Generate a test bed program cost and schedule for both systems.
– Establish a wind tunnel test program plan for the test of the propeller and drive system.
This paper will deal primarily with the second and third task.


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