Although composite propeller designs have been around for decades, some aircraft owners and operators are still unsure about the difference between composite and metal propeller options. Here’s a look at the facts behind a few common misconceptions about composite propeller blades:
MYTH: Composite propeller blades aren’t as strong as aluminum
Those unfamiliar with composite blade technology may believe that traditional aluminum blades are stronger. The truth is that composite blades are actually much tougher than aluminum blades, especially in unforgiving flying environments like the backcountry.
MYTH: All composite propeller blades are alike
Although various propeller manufacturers create their own versions of composite blades, the specific construction techniques and technology behind their products are vastly different.
Hartzell Propeller uses both precision machining and human expertise to produce our next-generation composite props. Unlike some other composite blades, our advanced structural composite propeller blades utilize a true composite structure to gain their strength and form.
MYTH: There’s no big performance difference
Switching to a composite propeller can result in significant performance advantages for your aircraft. Because composite propellers are so lightweight and strong, it’s possible to shape airfoils that are thinner, wider, and overall more aerodynamic than traditional aluminum blades.
Hartzell’s composite props are engineered to deliver performance enhancements such as shorter take-off distance, better ground clearance, increased climb rate, increased cruise speed, and smoother operation.
MYTH: Composite props are difficult to maintain
Composite propellers are highly durable, which makes them less likely to require repair. With aluminum blades, repairing minor damage such as nicks and gouges requires filing down permanent material to smooth out the airfoil. With repeated repairs, an aluminum prop will become thinner and thinner until it’s eventually deemed unairworthy.
Composite blades, on the other hand, are able to be repaired over and over again without adversely affecting the airfoil shape. Instead of filing or grinding the blade to remove material, composite blades are repaired by replacing the lost material. Hartzell’s composite props are certified for unlimited life and can easily be returned to factory specifications even after multiple overhauls. Additionally, minor repairs to composite blades can often be made with only an A & P license. While it’s true that composite blades may require a higher initial investment than metal blades, they offer exceptional value for aircraft owners over the long term.
Choosing composite propeller blades
There’s more to composite propeller blades than enhanced ramp appeal. From weight savings to optimized performance to low life cycle costs that provide better value for the investment, it makes sense that composites are the prop of choice for many aircraft owners and OEM manufacturers.
To learn more about Hartzell’s advanced structural composite propellers, call +1 (937) 778-4200 or visit contact us online.