As aviation faces the challenge of meeting strict requirements in reducing carbon emissions during the coming decades, Dowty Propellers and its technologies can contribute to achieving one of the most ambitious goals: zero-carbon travel.

This was the assessment of Dowty Propellers’ Technical Director Jonathan Chestney, who described the bright future for propellers during a recent webinar presentation organised by the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Gloucester & Cheltenham Branch.

Much of the promise for zero-carbon air travel comes from the nature of propeller technology itself, which can deliver significantly higher efficiency when compared to today’s turbofan jet engines – with propeller system performance that will improve through continued scientific advances, Chestney explained.

“For example, with the advent of computational fluid dynamics and vastly increased processing power, we have the ability to much better understand what’s going on with the propeller when it’s operating,” explained Chestney. “The established wisdom is the potential to achieve up to 90% efficiency by evolving the propeller systems.”    

A history of innovative solutions

As a leader for innovation, Gloucestershire-based Dowty Propellers (originally Rotol) has marked many “firsts” during its eight decades of operation in the UK – including the company’s pioneering introduction of all-composite propeller blades and the full-authority digital propeller control

Airplanes and sea-going platforms equipped with propeller systems from Dowty Propellers are in service around the world. They range from such workhorse aircraft as Lockheed Martin’s multi-role C-130J airlifter and the De Havilland Dash 8-400 regional airliner to the ShinMaywa US-2 seaplane and Textron’s LCAC air cushion hovercraft.

Chestney noted that Dowty Propellers has delivered more than 23,000 advanced composite blades to date, with the lead propellers logging some 48,000 hours of flight time.

“Dowty Propellers has a background that we can draw upon to ensure a strong future for UK industry – as well as for the Gloucestershire area that we call our home,” he concluded. “We very much look forward to another 84 years. It’s not a sunset – it’s a sunrise. Indeed, the future is bright.”

Information sources on Dowty Propellers’ heritage include: