Monday, October 1, 2007


Although some older adjustable-pitch propellers could only be adjusted on the ground, most modern adjustable-pitch propellers are designed so that you can change the propeller pitch in flight. The first adjustable-pitch propeller systems provided only two pitch settings�a low-pitch setting and a high-pitch setting. Today, however, nearly all adjustable-pitch propeller systems are capable of a range of pitch settings.

Aconstant-speed propeller is the most common type of adjustable-pitch propeller. The main advantage of a constant-speed propeller is that it converts a high percentage of brake horsepower (BHP) into thrust horsepower (THP) over a wide range of r.p.m. and airspeed combinations. A constant-speed propeller is more efficient than other propellers because it allows selection of the most efficient engine r.p.m. for the given conditions.

An airplane with a constant-speed propeller has two controls—the throttle and the propeller control. The throttle controls power output, and the propeller control regulates engine r.p.m. and, in turn, propeller r.p.m., which is registered on the tachometer.

Once a specific r.p.m. is selected, a governor automatically adjusts the propeller blade angle as necessary to maintain the selected r.p.m. For example, after setting the desired r.p.m. during cruising flight, an increase in airspeed or decrease in propeller load will cause the propeller blade angle to increase as necessary to maintain the selected r.p.m. A reduction in airspeed or increase in propeller load will cause the propeller blade angle to decrease.

The range of possible blade angles for a constant-speed propeller is the propeller's constant-speed range and is defined by the high and low pitch stops. As long as the propeller blade angle is within the constant-speed range and not against either pitch stop, a constant engine r.p.m. will be maintained. However, once the propeller blades contact a pitch stop, the engine r.p.m. will increase or decrease as appropriate, with changes in airspeed and propeller load. For example, once a specific r.p.m. has been selected, if aircraft speed decreases enough to rotate the propeller blades until they contact the low pitch stop, any further decrease in airspeed will cause engine r.p.m. to decrease the same way as if a fixed-pitch propeller were installed. The same holds true when an airplane equipped with a constant-speed propeller accelerates to a faster airspeed. As the aircraft accelerates, the propeller blade angle increases to maintain the selected r.p.m. until the high pitch stop is reached. Once this occurs, the blade angle cannot increase any further and engine r.p.m. increases.

On airplanes that are equipped with a constant-speed propeller, power output is controlled by the throttle and indicated by a manifold pressure gauge. The gauge measures the absolute pressure of the fuel/air mixture inside the intake manifold and is more correctly a measure of manifold absolute pressure (MAP). At a constant r.p.m. and altitude, the amount of power produced is directly related to the fuel/air flow being delivered to the combustion chamber. As you increase the throttle setting, more fuel and air is flowing to the engine; therefore, MAP increases. When the engine is not running, the manifold pressure gauge indicates ambient air pressure (i.e., 29.92 in. Hg). When the engine is started, the manifold pressure indication will decrease to a value less than ambient pressure (i.e., idle at 12 in. Hg). Correspondingly, engine failure or power loss is indicated on the manifold gauge as an increase in manifold pressure to a value corresponding to the ambient air pressure at the altitude where the failure occurred.

The manifold pressure gauge is color-coded to indicate the engine's operating range. The face of the manifold pressure gauge contains a green arc to show the normal operating range, and a red radial line to indicate the upper limit of manifold pressure.

For any given r.p.m., there is a manifold pressure that should not be exceeded. If manifold pressure is excessive for a given r.p.m., the pressure within the cylinders could be exceeded, thus placing undue stress on the cylinders. If repeated too frequently, this stress could weaken the cylinder components, and eventually cause engine failure.

You can avoid conditions that could overstress the cylinders by being constantly aware of the r.p.m., especially when increasing the manifold pressure. Conform to the manufacturer's recommendations for power settings of a particular engine so as to maintain the proper relationship between manifold pressure and r.p.m.

When both manifold pressure and r.p.m. need to be changed, avoid engine overstress by making power adjustments in the proper order:
  • When power settings are being decreased, reduce manifold pressure before reducing r.p.m. If r.p.m. is reduced before manifold pressure, manifold pressure will automatically increase and possibly exceed the manufacturer's tolerances.
  • When power settings are being increased, reverse the order—increase r.p.m. first, then manifold pressure.
  • To prevent damage to radial engines, operating time at maximum r.p.m. and manifold pressure must be held to a minimum, and operation at maximum r.p.m. and low manifold pressure must be avoided.

Under normal operating conditions, the most severe wear, fatigue, and damage to high performance reciprocating engines occurs at high r.p.m. and low manifold pressure.


  1. very important info, thanks a lot

  2. nice info , ,I really need to know this for my coming board exam , ,salamat

  3. Article was very informative...Thank You.

  4. it's accurate,brief and clear information....thanks alot

  5. very nice and shown briefly Thank you