Monday, October 1, 2007


The pitch of this propeller is set by the manufacturer, and cannot be changed. With this type of propeller, the best efficiency is achieved only at a given combination of airspeed and r.p.m.

There are two types of fixed-pitch propellers—the climb propeller and the cruise propeller. Whether the airplane has a climb or cruise propeller installed depends upon its intended use:
  • The climb propeller has a lower pitch, therefore less drag. Less drag results in higher r.p.m. and more horsepower capability, which increases performance during takeoffs and climbs, but decreases performance during cruising flight.
  • The cruise propeller has a higher pitch, therefore more drag. More drag results in lower r.p.m. and less horsepower capability, which decreases performance during takeoffs and climbs, but increases efficiency during cruising flight.

The propeller is usually mounted on a shaft, which may be an extension of the engine crankshaft. In this case, the r.p.m. of the propeller would be the same as the crankshaft r.p.m. On some engines, the propeller is mounted on a shaft geared to the engine crankshaft. In this type, the r.p.m. of the propeller is different than that of the engine. In a fixed-pitch propeller, the tachometer is the indicator of engine power.

A tachometer is calibrated in hundreds of r.p.m., and gives a direct indication of the engine and propeller r.p.m. The instrument is color-coded, with a green arc denoting the maximum continuous operating r.p.m. Some tachometers have additional marking to reflect engine and/or propeller limitations. Therefore, the manufacturer's recommendations should be used as a reference to clarify any misunderstanding of tachometer marking.

The revolutions per minute are regulated by the throttle, which controls the fuel/air flow to the engine. At a given altitude, the higher the tachometer reading, the higher the power output of the engine. When operating altitude increases, the tachometer may not show correct power output of the engine. For example, 2,300 r.p.m. at 5,000 feet produce less horsepower than 2,300 r.p.m. at sea level. The reason for this is that power output depends on air density. Air density decreases as altitude increases. Therefore, a decrease in air density (higher density altitude) decreases the power output of the engine. As altitude changes, the position of the throttle must be changed to maintain the same r.p.m. As altitude is increased, the throttle must be opened further to indicate the same r.p.m. as at a lower altitude.

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