The drive for ever higher aircraft efficiency inevitably leads to a reduction in core compressor size; over the past 30 years the height of the rear stages of a typical aeroengine has reduced by 40%. This trend will continue; a further reduction of almost 50% is expected by 2050.

It is shown in this paper that the two greatest sources of increased profile loss as core size is reduced comes from the mechanical and manufacturing constraints placed on the maximum and trailing edge thickness. Furthermore, mitigation strategies are presented which successfully minimized or eliminated these loss sources.

An experimental study showed that local modification to the trailing edge shape from a semi-circle to a more elliptical shape almost entirely eliminated the increase in trailing edge loss associated with a reduction in compressor size. Elliptical trailing edges improved loss by both narrowing the wake and increasing the base pressure. Despite the local nature of the modification, the elliptical trailing edges had a powerful effect on flow turning. This was accounted for by redesigning each design to achieve the specified exit flow angle.

A set of “as manufactured” small core blades was created by combining measured data from existing manufacture methods with airfoils scaled to ensure minimum thicknesses necessary for mechanical integrity along the blade were not breached. Core sizes down to 40% of current designs were run in CFD. It is often assumed that the loss in efficiency as core size is reduced is unavoidable. However, it was shown that approximately half of this is directly due to the increase in thickness to satisfy tolerancing. Part to part deviation has negligible effect at all but the smallest compressor size tested (at 40% of current values).

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