Q & A

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  1. Advantages of ducted fans
    • reduced noise
    • Better containment of broken blades
    • protection of ground personnel when the engine is running
    • Smaller size than a comparable propeller
    • They look like a fancy jet engine. This is probably the main motivation of Airbus for their use on the E-Fan.

    For almost all aircraft designers, their drawbacks have weighed more heavily:

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  2. Advantages of ducted fans

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  3. Advantages of ducted fans
    • Less efficiency, because a smallermass of air is used for propulsion
    • Additional friction drag and weight from the shroud

    The highest propulsion efficiency is possible with a large, slow-spinning prop. Once flight speeds approach the speed of sound, the propeller has to become smaller to avoid supersonic propeller tips, and then the shrouded design becomes more attractive. Electric airplanes so far are not fast enough to profit from this effect. I would be very skeptical of the increased thrust claim – both efficiency and thrust of the E-Fan ducted fans are lower than what a well-designed propeller can offer.

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