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Optimisation of Proprotors for Performance and Noise

   Department of Mechanical Engineering

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  Prof Carl Sangan, Dr M Carley, Dr Sam Bull  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project, co-funded by GKN Aerospace. Ideally, this would commence at the start of April or July 2022, but the start date is flexible for the right candidate, and could be as late as September 2022.

Informal enquiries should be made to Dr Carl Sangan - [Email Address Removed]

Funding is available to candidates who qualify for ‘Home’ fee status. Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the rules governing fee status have changed and, therefore, candidates from the EU/EEA are advised to check their eligibility before applying. If you are unsure whether you qualify for Home tuition fee status, please see our guide to understanding your tuition fee status, and the UKCISA guidance.


The emergence of electric tilt-rotor aircraft requires that engineers predict the performance and noise of proprotors (intended for electric Vertical Take-Off & Landing (eVTOL) aircraft). The goal of this PhD is to develop an accurate predictive tool capable of assessing the potential for novel architectures (e.g. unequally spaced rotor configurations, novel rotor geometries, acoustically absorbent aerostructures, active cancellation devices etc). There is also interest in transition effects as tiltrotor aircraft convert from VTOL to forward flight modes. The PhD programme, which is co-funded by GKN Aerospace, will employ a concomitant approach utilising experimental testing and theoretical modelling.

Modelling Approach: An optimisation environment will be developed using Blade Element Momentum Theory (BEMT); the optimisation strategy will be tuned to deliver a robust prediction of proprotor performance. Firstly, fast approximate methods for rotor noise prediction will be implemented, with noise scattering effects approximated at the design stage by representing the aircraft as a collection of canonical forms (sharp edges, wedges, ellipsoids, etc.). High fidelity calculation will subsequently be developed using methods suitable for the application of optimization techniques. The final output will be predictions of noise from realistic geometries.

Experimental Approach: The BEMT code and noise estimation methods require extensive experimental validation. Testing will employ a proprotor test rig to assess the performance and noise characteristics of a series of proprotors (additively-manufactured from metal). BEMT predictions will be validated against measurements of torque and power; fast data acquisition will acquire microphone signals for validation of the noise predictions. Transition effects will be investigated by varying the proprotor plane with respect to the freestream.

The PhD candidate will join a vibrant group of aerospace researchers at Bath and work closely with academics and senior engineers at GKN Aerospace. It is expected that the work will result in a series of technical publications at international conferences and in technical journals appropriate to the field.

Applicant Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, an undergraduate Masters first class degree or MSc distinction (or non-UK equivalent). English language entry requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding, see

How to apply

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here.


electric aircraft; propulsion; propeller; VTOL; noise; net zero; aeroacoustics; urban air mobility; tilt-rotor; Acoustics Engineering; Aerospace Engineering; Fluid Mechanics; Mechanical Engineering; Applied Mathematics; Engineering Mathematics; Mathematical Modelling

Funding Notes

Funding is for up to 3.5 years. It includes Home tuition fees, training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a Maintenance stipend of £15,609 per annum (2021/2 rate).
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