Isolated propeller aeroacoustics at positive and negative thrust

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Using propellers in negative thrust conditions can potentially result in many benefits, such as a steeper descent, a reduced landing run, reduced community noise, energy regeneration, etc. However, the aerodynamics and aeroacoustics of propellers in this regime are not well understood. This paper presents an aeroacoustic analysis of an isolated propeller operating in both positive and negative thrust conditions, using scale-resolved lattice-Boltzmann very large eddy simulations and the Ffowcs Williams & Hawkings analogy. The propeller was operated at a constant tip Mach number so that any differences in tonal noise between positive and negative thrust conditions were due to changes in blade loading. Results showed that the flow separation around the blades in the negative thrust case led to a 2 to 6 times higher standard deviation in integrated thrust compared to the positive thrust case. The blade loading in the negative thrust case shows the amplitude of fluctuations up to 18% for inboard sections and up to 30% near the blade tip compared to the time-averaged loads. The noise in the propeller plane is 10 dB higher in the positive thrust regime than in the negative thrust regime at a given absolute thrust level of |T_C = 0.08|. The lower noise at negative thrust is caused by two factors: the lower magnitude of the negative torque compared to the positive torque at a given thrust level and the shift of the blade loading inboard in the negative thrust condition due to the stall of the blade tip. Along the propeller axis, the negative thrust regime has 13-15 dB higher noise because of the increased broadband noise generated by the flow separation. In the negative thrust case, the noise along the propeller axis (89 dB) and propeller plane (92 dB) are comparable. However, this is not the case for the propulsive case. The comparison of noise in the vicinity of the propeller plane showed that using the propellers in negative thrust conditions allows for a steeper and quieter descent compared to a conventional descent; as long as the magnitude of the negative torque produced is equal to or less than the torque required to operate the propeller in a conventional landing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109021
Number of pages20
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2024


The research leading to these results is part of the FUTPRINT50 project. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 875551. This work made use of the Dutch national einfrastructure with the support of the SURF Cooperative using grant no. EINF-2733.


  • Propeller aerodynamics
  • Propeller noise
  • Regenerative propellers


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