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A closeup of one of the V-22 Osprey's dual proprotors. V-22-166480-FAR01.jpg
A closeup of one of the V-22 Osprey's dual proprotors.

A proprotor is a spinning airfoil that is used as both an airplane-style propeller and a helicopter-style rotor during the same flight. [1] Proprotors are typically used on vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

The dual-role airfoil is accomplished by one of several design approaches:

  • changing the angle of attack of the wing that the proprotor is attached to, from approximately zero degrees to around ninety degrees: a tiltwing aircraft,
  • changing the angle of attack of only the rotor hub, and possibly the engine that drives it, as on a tiltrotor,
  • changing the angle of attack of the entire aircraft, as on a tailsitter, which launches and lands on its tail. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

A vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft is one that can hover, take off, and land vertically. This classification can include a variety of types of aircraft including fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and other aircraft with powered rotors, such as cyclogyros/cyclocopters and tiltrotors. Some VTOL aircraft can operate in other modes as well, such as CTOL, STOL, and/or STOVL. Others, such as some helicopters, can only operate by VTOL, due to the aircraft lacking landing gear that can handle horizontal motion. VTOL is a subset of V/STOL. Some lighter-than-air aircraft also qualify as VTOL aircraft, as they can hover, takeoff, and land with vertical approach/departure profiles.

Wing Surface used for flight, for example by insects, birds, bats and airplanes

A wing is a type of fin that produces lift, while moving through air or some other fluid. As such, wings have streamlined cross-sections that are subject to aerodynamic forces and act as airfoils. A wing's aerodynamic efficiency is expressed as its lift-to-drag ratio. The lift a wing generates at a given speed and angle of attack can be one to two orders of magnitude greater than the total drag on the wing. A high lift-to-drag ratio requires a significantly smaller thrust to propel the wings through the air at sufficient lift.

Tiltrotor powered lift convertiplane where transition is accomplished by tilting the rotors between horizontal and vertical positions

A tiltrotor is an aircraft which generates lift and propulsion by way of one or more powered rotors mounted on rotating engine pods or nacelles usually at the ends of a fixed wing or an engine mounted in the fuselage with drive shafts transferring power to rotor assemblies mounted on the wingtips. It combines the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft. For vertical flight, the rotors are angled so the plane of rotation is horizontal, lifting the way a helicopter rotor does. As the aircraft gains speed, the rotors are progressively tilted forward, with the plane of rotation eventually becoming vertical. In this mode the wing provides the lift, and the rotor provides thrust as a propeller. Since the rotors can be configured to be more efficient for propulsion and it avoids a helicopter's issues of retreating blade stall, the tiltrotor can achieve higher speeds than helicopters.

Stall (fluid dynamics) abrupt reduction in lift due to flow separation

In fluid dynamics, a stall is a reduction in the lift coefficient generated by a foil as angle of attack increases. This occurs when the critical angle of attack of the foil is exceeded. The critical angle of attack is typically about 15 degrees, but it may vary significantly depending on the fluid, foil, and Reynolds number.

Angle of attack angle between the chord of the wing and the undisturbed airflow

In fluid dynamics, angle of attack is the angle between a reference line on a body and the vector representing the relative motion between the body and the fluid through which it is moving. Angle of attack is the angle between the body's reference line and the oncoming flow. This article focuses on the most common application, the angle of attack of a wing or airfoil moving through air.

Airfoil cross-sectional shape of a wing, blade (of a propeller, rotor, or turbine), or sail

An airfoil or aerofoil is the cross-sectional shape of a wing, blade, or sail.

Bell XV-15 Experimental tiltrotor, used to demonstrate the concepts high speed performance relative to conventional helicopters

The Bell XV-15 is an American tiltrotor VTOL aircraft. It was the second successful experimental tiltrotor aircraft and the first to demonstrate the concept's high speed performance relative to conventional helicopters.

Tiltwing convertiplane which transitions by tilting the entire main wing along with engines and rotors

A tiltwing aircraft features a wing that is horizontal for conventional forward flight and rotates up for vertical takeoff and landing. It is similar to the tiltrotor design where only the propeller and engine rotate. Tiltwing aircraft are typically fully capable of VTOL operations.

AgustaWestland AW609 Twin-engine tiltrotor VTOL aircraft

The AgustaWestland AW609, formerly the Bell/Agusta BA609, is a twin-engined tiltrotor VTOL aircraft with a configuration similar to that of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. It is capable of landing vertically like a helicopter while having a range and speed in excess of conventional rotorcraft. The AW609 is aimed at the civil aviation market, in particular VIP customers and offshore oil and gas operators.

Flap (aeronautics) aircraft wing device used to increase lift by extending the trailing edge of the wing

Flaps are a kind of high-lift device used to reduce the stalling speed of an aircraft wing at a given weight. Flaps are usually mounted on the wing trailing edges of a fixed-wing aircraft. Flaps are used to reduce the take-off distance and the landing distance. Flaps also cause an increase in drag so they are retracted when not needed.

Retreating blade stall is a hazardous flight condition in helicopters and other rotary wing aircraft, where the retreating rotor blade has a lower relative blade speed, combined with an increased angle of attack, causing a stall and loss of lift. Retreating blade stall is the primary limiting factor of a helicopter's never exceed speed, VNE.

Helicopter rotor rotary wings and control system that generates the lift and thrust for a helicopter

A helicopter main rotor or rotor system is the combination of several rotary wings and a control system that generates the aerodynamic lift force that supports the weight of the helicopter, and the thrust that counteracts aerodynamic drag in forward flight. Each main rotor is mounted on a vertical mast over the top of the helicopter, as opposed to a helicopter tail rotor, which connects through a combination of drive shaft(s) and gearboxes along the tail boom. The blade pitch is typically controlled by a swashplate connected to the helicopter flight controls. Helicopters are one example of rotary-wing aircraft (rotorcraft). The name is derived from the Greek words helix, helik-, meaning spiral; and pteron meaning wing.

Bell XV-3 Experimental tiltrotor aircraft to explore convertiplane technologies

The Bell XV-3 is an American tiltrotor aircraft developed by Bell Helicopter for a joint research program between the United States Air Force and the United States Army in order to explore convertiplane technologies. The XV-3 featured an engine mounted in the fuselage with driveshafts transferring power to two-bladed rotor assemblies mounted on the wingtips. The wingtip rotor assemblies were mounted to tilt 90 degrees from vertical to horizontal, designed to allow the XV-3 to take off and land like a helicopter but fly at faster airspeeds, similar to a conventional fixed-wing aircraft.

A convertiplane is defind by the FAI as an aircraft which uses rotor power for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and converts to fixed-wing lift in normal flight. In the US it is further classified as a sub-type of powered lift. In popular usage it sometimes includes any aircraft that converts in flight to change its method of obtaining lift.

Dissymmetry of lift

Dissymmetry of lift in rotorcraft aerodynamics refers to an uneven amount of lift on opposite sides of the rotor disc. It is a phenomenon that affects single-rotor helicopters and autogyros in forward flight.

Sikorsky S-72

The Sikorsky S-72 was an experimental hybrid helicopter/fixed-wing aircraft developed by helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft.

Powered lift aircraft capable of powered vertical takeoff and landing but which operates as a fixed-wing aircraft during horizontal flight

Powered lift or powered-lift refers to a type of aircraft that can take off and land vertically and functions differently from a rotorcraft in horizontal flight.

Bölkow Bo 46

The Bölkow Bo 46 was a West German experimental helicopter built to test the Derschmidt rotor system that aimed to allow much higher speeds than traditional helicopter designs. Wind tunnel testing showed promise, but the Bo 46 demonstrated a number of problems and added complexity that led to the concept being abandoned. The Bo 46 was one of a number of new designs exploring high-speed helicopter flight that were built in the early 1960s.

NASA Puffin

The Puffin is an American proposed hover-capable, electric-powered, low-noise, personal vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) technology-concept proprotor aircraft. The concept design was projected to be capable of flying a single person at a speed of 150 miles per hour, with range expected to be less than 50 miles with 2010-vintage Lithium-iron-phosphate battery technology. The design specified a 13.5 foot wingspan, standing 12 feet tall on the ground in its take-off or landing configuration.

Angle of incidence (aerodynamics) angle between the chord of the wing and the longitudinal axis of the fuselage

On fixed-wing aircraft, the angle of incidence is the angle between the chord line of the wing where the wing is mounted to the fuselage, and a reference axis along the fuselage. The angle of incidence is fixed in the design of the aircraft, and with rare exceptions, cannot be varied in flight.


  1. United States Navy—V-22 Osprey Web
  2. Smriti Rao (January 20, 2010). "Meet the "Puffin," NASA's One-Man Electric Plane". Discover Magazine .