World's first propeller with 11 blades completes first test flight

It has an impressive noise and sound signature.
Ameya Paleja
The 11-bladed propeller on the aircraft
The 11-bladed propeller on the aircraft

MT-Propeller 

The world's first 11-bladed propeller has successfully completed its first test flight, its developer MT-Propeller said in a press release. This marks yet another first for the developer who has previously made five, seven, and nine-bladed propellers before.

The propeller on an aircraft converts the rotational energy of the engine into a propulsive force or thrust. The amount of thrust produced by the propeller is proportional to the blade area, while the number of blades determines the pulses of thrust that the aircraft produces for each revolution of the propeller.

Founded in 1981 by Gerd Mühlbauer, MT-Propeller has more than 27 certified propeller designs to its credit which can be combined with over 220 aerodynamic blade designs. The company claims that it supplies propellers to over 90 percent of the aircraft produced in Europe that use a piston or turbine engine.

The 11-bladed propeller

In September this year, MT-Propeller tested its 11-bladed propeller design on the Piper PA31T1 aircraft, which was equipped with Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A turbines.

The first flight took to the skies with an impressive noise and sound signature, the company said in its press release. The video can be seen here. The small two-engine aircraft took to the skies as though a twin-engine jet was taking off.

The propeller design team observed a 15 percent increase in static thrust with the new propeller when compared to the five-bladed propellers made by the same company. The developer team is hopeful that the aircraft propeller system, combined with a low rpm power supply, could open up new possibilities for performance, efficiency, and noise. The low-rpm power supply could come from a turbine or even an electric engine.

A rich history of many firsts

MT-Propeller has a rich history of developing the world's first multi-bladed propellers. Nearly two decades ago, the Atting, Germany-based manufacturer received certification for its five-bladed propeller with reversing capability. The company's composite turbine-powered propeller powers the Pilatus PC12, the fastest in a production single-engine airplane.

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MT-Propellers' five-bladed propellers have lower noise and vibration levels and have quickly become the industry standard. They are used on a wide range of aircraft, such as the Cessna 425 Series, Piper Cheyenne PA31T and T1, Piper Cheyenne PA42-1000, and Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft.

In 2016, the company completed the first flight of the world's first seven-bladed propellers on a General Aviation airplane. The design was extensively tested and certified in 2020.

In 2019, the company started the test program for the world's first nine-bladed propeller, which has shown promise in developing low-noise and high-performance future airplanes. The aircraft is also expected to deliver savings on fuel consumption when compared to jet engines.

With such a rich history of world firsts, MT-Propeller can be expected to deliver interesting results with its 11-blade propeller, too.