The present study demonstrates the aerodynamic and acoustic optimization potential of a counter rotating open rotor. The objective was to maximize the propeller efficiency at top of climb conditions and to minimize the noise emission at takeoff while fulfilling the given thrust specifications at two operating conditions (takeoff and top of climb) considered. Both objectives were successfully met by applying an efficient multi-objective optimization procedure in combination with a 3D RANS method. The acoustic evaluation was carried out with a coupled U-RANS and an analytic far field prediction method based on an integral Ffowcs Williams-Hawkings approach. This first part of the paper deals with the application of DLR’s CFD method TRACE to counter rotating open rotors. This study features the choice and placement of boundary conditions, resolution requirements, and a corresponding meshing strategy. The aerodynamic performance in terms of thrust, torque, and efficiency was evaluated based on steady state calculations with a mixing plane placed in between both rotors, which allowed for an efficient and reliable evaluation of the performance, in particular, within the automatic optimization. The aerodynamic optimization was carried by the application of AutoOpti, a multi-objective optimization procedure based on an evolutionary algorithm, which also was developed at the Institute of propulsion technology at DLR. The optimization presented in this paper features more than 1600 converged 3D steady-state CFD simulations at two operating conditions, takeoff and top of climb, respectively. In order to accelerate the optimization process, a surrogate model based on a Kriging interpolation on the response surfaces was introduced. The main constrains and regions of interest during the optimization were a given power split between the rotors at takeoff, retaining an axial outflow at the aft rotor exit at top of climb, and fulfilling the given thrust specifications at both operating conditions. Two objectives were defined: One was to maximize the (propeller) efficiency at top of climb conditions. The other objective was an acoustic criteria aiming at decreasing the rotor/rotor interaction noise at takeoff by smoothening the front rotor wakes. Approximately 100 geometric parameters were set free during the optimization to allow for a flexible definition of the 3D blade geometry in terms of rotor sweep, aft rotor clipping, hub contour as well as a flexible definition of different 2D profiles at different radial
locations. The acoustic evaluation was carried out based on unsteady 3D-RANS computations with the same CFD method (TRACE) involving an efficient single-passage phase-lag approach. These unsteady results were coupled with the integral Ffowcs Williams-Hawkings method APSIM via a permeable control surface covering both rotors. The far field directivities and spectra for a linear microphone array were evaluated, here mainly at the takeoff certification point. This (still time consuming) acoustic evaluation was carried out after the automatic optimization for a few of the most promising individuals only, and results will be presented in comparison with the baseline configuration. This detailed acoustic evaluation also allowed for an assessment of the effectiveness of the acoustic cost function as introduced within the automatic optimization.