The current trend in civil engine fans towards lower pressure ratio and larger diameter is accompanied by a need to shorten the engine intake length to reduce weight and drag. This paper uses full-annulus, unsteady CFD simulations of two coupled fan-intake configurations to explain the impact of flow field coupling and intake length on fan and intake performance. On-design and off-design operating points are considered at cruise and high angle of attack, respectively.
The fan efficiency at cruise is shown to be determined by a trade-off between two effects. Cruise efficiency is reduced by 0.11% with a short intake due to increased potential flow field distortion, which alters the incidence and diffusion of the rotor. This is partially offset by a reduction in casing boundary layer thickness due to lower intake wetted area.
At high angle of attack conditions, a short intake leads to increased potential flow field distortion and an earlier onset of intake flow separation due to a higher adverse pressure gradient approaching the fan. Both effects combine to reduce the fan thrust at such conditions, although the fan is shown to remain stable at attack angles up to 35°. The reduction in performance is shown to be dominated by flow separations in the rotor, which increase in size and severity for a given attack angle as the intake length is decreased. The fan is also shown to have a stronger influence on the form of the intake flow field in a short intake, suggesting that it is necessary to model the fan in the intake design process for a successful design.