This paper presents unsteady measurements taken in a high-speed four-stage aeroengine compressor prior to the onset of aerodynamic flow instabilities. In this experiment, 40 fast-response pressure transducers have been located at various axial and circumferential positions throughout the machine in order to give a very detailed picture of stall inception. At all the compressor speeds investigated, the stall pattern observed is initiated by a very short length-scale finite-amplitude disturbance, which propagates at a fast rate around the annulus. This initial stall cell leads to a large-amplitude system instability in less than five rotor revolutions. Varying the IGV setting angle is found to have a strong influence on the axial location of the first disturbance detected. In particular, transferring the aerodynamic loading from front to downstream stages moves the first disturbance detected from the first to the last stage of the compressor. Other repeatable features of the stall inception pattern in this compressor have been identified using a simple analysis technique particularly appropriate to the study of short length-scale disturbances. It is found that the origins of instabilities are tied to particular tangential positions in both the stationary and rotating frames of reference. These measurements lead to the conclusion that the stall inception process in high-speed multistage compressors can be characterized by some very local and organized flow phenomena. Moreover, there is no evidence of prestall waves in this compressor.

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