Analytical Model for the Performance Curves of a Family of Propellers Based on Wind Tunnel Tests


Propeller aircraft performance is greatly influenced by the performance of the propeller it uses. Thus, proper selection of a propeller for a given aircraft design at the early stages of the design process is fundamental. During the design of a new aircraft, simple yet accurate performance models are required to properly optimize the design. Significant experimental performance data of low speed, small propellers is available. The main objective of this work is to create and validate an analytical model for     the performance curves of a family of propellers tested at low Reynolds numbers, which can be used in selecting a propeller for a given existing aircraft design or during its design optimization process. This kind of propellers is more commonly used in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The model is designed in MATLAB® using a variety of regression techniques, such as the Least Squares Method (LSQ), applied to experimental data acquired at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), for seventeen APC Thin Electric propellers, and at the Department of Aerospace Sciences (DCA) of University of Beira Interior (UBI), for ten more APC Thin Electric propellers. The analytical model predicts propeller power coefficient and propulsive efficiency accurately for the family of propellers tested and can also be used for the propellers with dimensions close to those used for its development. The propeller performance data obtained during the experimental tests are made available the community to further increase the documentation on propellers tested at low Reynolds numbers.

Keywords: Propeller, Low Reynolds propeller performance, Propeller tests, Wind tunnel

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