The prop-fan concept offers the potential for significant fuel savings without reducing aircraft performance from the levels of current turbofan aircraft. To enhance industry acceptance of the concept there is a need to accelerate current research and development activities. One method of accomplishing both industry acceptance and accelerated research and development is by means of flight research vehicles. This paper describes how flight research vehicles could be used in an advanced turboprop, or prop-fan, program. The technology status of prop-fan development will be reviewed and deficiencies will be identified. Methods for solving prop-fan problems using the test-bed aircraft philosophy will be discussed. Based on defined problem areas which must be addressed if the prop-fan is to become an accepted propulsion system, test-bed program objectives and priorities will be established, and the design requirements for a prop-fan research vehicle will be formulated. Suitable configurations will be examined and analyzed.

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