Compressor stall

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A compressor stall is a situation of abnormal airflow resulting from a stall of the aerofoils within the compressor of a jet engine. Stall is found in dynamic compressors, particularly axial compressors, as used in jet engines and turbochargers for reciprocating engines.

Compressor stalls result in a loss of compressor performance, which can vary in severity from a momentary engine power drop (occurring so quickly it is barely registered on engine instruments) to a complete loss of compression (compressor surge) necessitating a reduction in the fuel flow to the engine.

Modern compressors are carefully designed and controlled to avoid or limit stall within an engine's operating range. Stall was a common problem on early jet engines with simple aerodynamics and manual or mechanical fuel control units, but has been virtually eliminated by better design and the use of hydromechanical and electronic control systems such as Full Authority Digital Engine Control.


There are two types of compressor stall:

Rotational stall

Rotational stall is a local disruption of airflow within the compressor which continues to provide compressed air but with reduced effectiveness. Rotational stall arises when a small proportion of aerofoils experience aerofoil stall disrupting the local airflow without destabilising the compressor. The stalled aerofoils create pockets of relatively stagnant air (referred to as stall cells) which, rather than moving in the flow direction, rotate around the...
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