Several observations have been made in the Fourier spectra of high speed rotordynamic response of uniformly spaced frequency spikes on either side of key synchronous or subharmonic or superharmonic response frequencies. In instances where this so-called “sidebanding” could not readily be explained as the nonlinear interaction or combination tones of two distinct responses at slightly different frequencies, we have referred to this class of phenomena as spontaneous sidebanding.

It is invariably noted that the sideband spacing frequency appears to be a whole number fraction (1/J) of the operating speed which suggests that the wave form is periodic and completes a full cycle every J rotations of the rotor. Using a numerical model of a rotor which simulates local contact with a stator in close proximity as a bilinear spring, several studies have been carried out to explore the circumstances for this spontaneous sidebanding. Two general classes of this type of response have been found.

A) For highly nonlinear systems, the chaotic-like response in transition zones between successive orders of subharmonic and superharmonic operation is actually periodic and results in spontaneous sidebands clustered around the key subharmonic or superharmonic frequencies.

B) In trans-critical operation of highly nonlinear and lightly damped systems, a major sideband frequency spike is noted at a frequency which is approximately the system’s natural frequency. Recognition of this fact permits a simple estimate of the repetition index (J).

All these observations from operation of the numerical model have been compared with experimental data derived from incidents of spontaneous sidebanding on aircraft gas turbine rotors. Excellent qualitative agreement has been found in most instances.

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