Are you ready to purchase a replacement propeller for your aircraft, or do you know someone who’s just getting into aviation who’s looking for their first? Here are some tips from us about what you should know before purchasing a propeller:
- Understand the advantages of different types of propellers for your aircraft. Do you want to reduce noise? Improve performance? For instance, the Hartzell scimitar blade with a back-swept wingtip, can reduce noise and may improve efficiency over a regular blade.
- Know the differences between a propeller that needs to be replaced and a propeller that requires adjustment. Here are three factors to consider when you’re looking into propeller replacement. Replacing a propeller is a big investment, so be sure to have your prop looked at to ensure that any concerns you have about performance can be fixed with an overhaul or routine adjustment.
- If you choose a fixed-pitch propeller, it will need to be re-pitched. We already detailed the differences between fixed-pitch and variable pitch But did you know that if you choose a fixed-pitch propeller there is a limit to the cumulative amount the blade can be bent? If you’re buying a used propeller blade, this is especially important, as it may have been bent out.
- More propeller blades aren’t always better. While 2-blade propellers may be more efficient, it’s thrust that propels an airplane. As power increases, additional blades may be required to efficiently use the increased power. Check your manual to determine the optimum numbers of blades for your aircraft.
- Choose your propeller blade material carefully. There are generally three types of propeller blade materials in use today: wood, metal (generally aluminum alloys) and composite. At Hartzell, our propeller blades are made from high strength aluminum alloy forgings or advanced composite materials (Kevlar® or carbon fiber). Each kind of material has its advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to research the differences.
- Experimental aircraft don’t need experimental props! When choosing the right propeller for an experimental or home build aircraft, safety, performance, weight, cost, noise, diameter limits and durability are going to be big factors for you in making your choice. For most popular kit aircraft, Hartzell has developed propellers specifically for those aircraft and they are available directly from the kit manufacturer. If you have an experimental aircraft, contact us to speak to one of our technical specialists about your needs.
- Yes, the right propeller can increase your cruise speed – so choose wisely. However, note that it does require a large increase in propeller efficiency to produce even a small increase in aircraft cruise speed. If your prior propeller was already well-matched to the engine and aircraft performance on installation, you may not be able to push efficiency much more. However, we’ve also seen measurable speed gains in some new installations, so check with your TC/STC holder to check on accurate performance tests conducted on your specific installation.