An electric propulsion model for propeller-driven aircraft is developed with the aim of minimising the power consumption for a given airspeed and thrust. Blade Element Momentum Theory (BEMT) is employed for propeller performance predictions fed with aerodynamic aerofoil data obtained from a proposed combined Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)-Montgomerie method, which is also validated. The Two-Dimensional (2D) aerofoil data are corrected to consider compressibility, three-dimensional, viscous and Reynolds-number effects. The BEMT model showed adequate fitting with experimental data from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC) database. Additionally, Goldstein optimisation via vortex theory is employed to design pitch and chord distributions minimising the induced losses of the propeller. Particle swarm optimisation is employed to find the optimal value for a wide range of geometrical and operational parameters considering some constraints. The optimisation algorithm is validated through a study case where an existing optimisation problem is approached, leading to very similar results. Some trends and insights are obtained from the study case and discussed regarding the design of an optimal propulsion system. Finally, CFD simulations of the study case are carried out, showing a slight relative error of BEMT.
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© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Royal Aeronautical Society.