Propeller vs. rotor

  1. I was thinking about the difference between the appearance of a propeller on a plane and a rotor on a helicopter. What is the consensus?
  2. jcsd
  3. FredGarvin

    FredGarvin 5,084
    Science Advisor

    Two different things that live on two separate worlds. They are only similar in appearance and the fact that they move air. What exactly is it you are wondering about?
  4. I'm thinking these things look different because they're doing different things. I know a propeller is moving air horizontally, but is a copter blade shaped that way because centrifugal force is holding it out?
  5. FredGarvin

    FredGarvin 5,084
    Science Advisor

    If you are referring to their droop while stationary, then you are correct. Because they have such large aspect ratios, to make a rotor blade stiff like a prop you would have to make it extremely thick ad heavy. It would be completely impractical.
  6. I'm also not seeing the twist that I see on a prop. I know that collective/cyclic controll needs that compromise but is that the reason the twist is not there?
  7. HAH! Good observation. I never noticed that until your post!

    Its probably becuase the change in speed due to RPM is much lower than a prop from center to blade tip. -but thats just a guess.
  8. I'll buy that!
  9. FredGarvin

    FredGarvin 5,084
    Science Advisor

    There is a slight twist in helicopter blades, but not a huge twist like in a prop. For example, my beloved Chinook has a negative 12° twist towards the tips. The twist is there to accommodate the large length of the rotor and the resulting change in lift as you go from the hub to the tip. A prop is less like a real wing than a rotor blade. A prop, while can be feathered and adjusted, is less adjustable than a rotor blade which is why there is a huge twist in them, to get the max thrust they can get in their design condition. That is why a helicopter is a rotary-wing aircraft and not a prop driven aircraft.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2008
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