The installed Variable Pitch Fan (VPF) reverse thrust flow field is obtained from the flow solution of an integrated airframe-engine research model for the complete reverser engagement regime during the aircraft landing run from 140 knots to 40 knots. The model includes a twin-engine airframe, complete flow path representation of a future 40000 lbf high bypass ratio geared turbofan engine, and a bespoke reverse flow-capable VPF design. The reverse thrust flow field, at all speeds, indicates that the reverse flow out of the nacelle inlet is washed downstream by the freestream towards the engine exit regions. Consequently, reverse flow enters the engine through the bypass nozzle from a 180° turn of the washed-down stream. This results in a region of circumferentially varying separated flow at the nozzle lip that acts as a blockage to the reverse flow entry into the engine.
To mitigate the blockage issue, a smooth guidance of the reverse flow into the engine to avoid separation can be achieved by using an inflatable rubber lip that would define a bell-mouth like geometric feature with a round radius at the nacelle exit region. In nominal engine operation, the rubber lip would be stowed flush within the contours of the optimized nacelle surface. The design space of the rubber lip is studied by considering different rounding radii and locations of the turn radius with respect to the nacelle trailing edge. The choices of the design parameters are chosen by considering the nacelle edge thickness, inflation air volume requirement, weight, and thickness of support structures. The effect of these designs on the reverse thrust flow field is studied by incorporating the designs into the integrated model, with realistic installation related restrictions. It is observed that a rounding radius of 0.1x nacelle length is sufficient to reduce the blockage and increase the ingested reverse flow by 47% to 18% in the 140 to 40 knots landing speed range. The inflatable rubber lip represents a design modification that can aid in the improvement of VPF reverse thrust operation, in cases where an augmentation of reverse thrust capability over the baseline is desired.