In the present experimental study, a low aspect ratio, low hub-tip ratio contra-rotating axial fan is investigated to understand its performance under windmilling conditions. Two configurations are tested; in the first configuration (event A), the front rotor of the contra-rotating fan is powered and the rear rotor is allowed to windmill; in the second configuration (event B), the rear rotor of the contra-rotating fan is powered and the front rotor is allowed to windmill. The spanwise distribution of the loading coefficient and the flow angles at different streamwise positions reveal the details of the flow development across the rotors. The performances of event A and event B are nearly similar; however, event A stalls earlier than event B. Though the average total pressure drops across the windmilling rotor for both the events, a small spanwise region behaves as a fan or a stirrer. Thus, a “neutral radius” on the windmilling rotor is identified for both events A and B. The neutral radius appears close to the tip for event A and it appears close to the hub for event B. On the windmilling rotor in either events, the span regions close to the tip for event A behaves as a fan and the span regions close to the hub for event B behaves as a stirrer. It is also observed that the neutral radius shifts its position to a lower span location as the flow coefficient reduces. Thus, the flow coefficient is a significant parameter that decides the position of the neutral radius. Further, the unsteady pressure measurements recorded at the casing captures the fundamental phenomena during the stall inception. The paper thus relates the similarities and unveils the contrasting features of the windmilling events A and B. In summary, this paper discusses the performance, flow physics and stall inception characteristics of a contra-rotating axial fan under windmilling conditions.

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