Dowty Propellers has played an important role in the development of regional transport aircraft, the creation of highly capable military transport aircraft, and the evolution of fully-amphibious landing craft.
The business originated in 1937 as Rotol Airscrews Ltd., and was formed by Rolls-Royce and Bristol Aircraft to take over their propeller interests. During World War II, Rotol Airscrews supplied wooden- and aluminum-bladed propellers for such legendary fighters as the Spitfire and Hurricane, along with many other aircraft.
The company then produced metal bladed propellers for Rolls-Royce Dart engines on the Vickers Viscount turboprop airliner, continuing with the Convair 600/640, Handley Page Herald, Armstrong Whitworth Argosy, Grumman Gulfstream I, NAMC YS-11A, Fokker F27 Friendship, and Hawker Siddeley 748.
Following extensive research and development, the company launched a new range of turbo-propellers for the general aviation and commuter markets. A main feature of these metal-bladed propellers was their use of advanced technology airfoil sections, developed with the Aircraft Research Association (ARA).
The ARA-D airfoil sections generated higher efficiencies over a wider operating range, while using lower chords than traditional sections. Their benefits include increased takeoff and climb performance, lower weight, reduced noise and vibration levels, simplified pitch-changing mechanisms, and rugged yet lightweight hub/blade assemblies. Aircraft using such propellers include the Gulfstream Jetprop Commander, Fairchild Metro III and Merlin IV, the CASA C-212 Aviocar and British Aerospace Jetstream 31.
The next significant step was the development of all-composite blades that combine low weight and high strength, high resistance to fatigue, freedom from corrosion, increased damage tolerance and easier repair – all while retaining the ARA-D airfoil advantages.
This resulted in Dowty Propellers’ family of modern, high-speed, four- and six-bladed composite propellers for turboprop engines with 2,000-6,000 shaft horsepower ratings. Aircraft flying with these propellers include the Saab 340 and Saab 2000, Fokker 50 and Bombardier Dash 8Q Series 400 regional airliners; as well as the Lockheed Martin C-130J, Alenia Aeronautica C-27J military airlifters and ShinMaywa US-2 multi-role amphibious aircraft.
The shrouded airscrew on Textron Systems LCAC (Landing Craft, Air Cushion) marine hovercraft uses Dowty Propellers’ four-bladed propeller system, with its rugged composite blades capable of resisting wave impacts and resistant to corrosion.
Dowty Propellers is building on its heritage, exploring new generations of propeller systems through the application of the company’s expertise to develop new blade designs, control systems and icing protection, along with the exploration of open rotor concepts and more integrated turboprop propulsion designs.