To investigate the pre-stall behavior of an axial flow compressor rotor, which was experimentally observed with spike-type stall inception, systematic experimental and whole-passage simulations were laid out to analyze the internal flow fields in the test rotor. In this part, emphases were put on the analyses of experimental results and the predicted results from steady simulations and unsteady simulations, which converged to equilibrium solutions with nearly periodic fluctuations of efficiency. The objective was to uncover the unsteady behavior of tip clearance flow and its associated flow mechanism at near-stall conditions. To validate the steady simulation results, the predicted total characteristics and spanwise distributions of aerodynamic parameters were first compared with the measured steady data, and a good agreement was achieved. Then, the numerically obtained unsteady flow fields during one period of efficiency fluctuations were analyzed in detail. The instantaneous flow structure near casing showed that tip secondary vortex (TSV), which appeared in the previous unsteady single-passage simulations, did exist in tip flow fields of whole-passage simulations. The cyclical motion of this vortex was the main source of the nearly periodic variation of efficiency. The simulated active period of TSV increased when the mass flow rate decreased. The simulated frequency of TSV at flow condition very close to the measured stall point equaled the frequency of the characteristic hump identified from the instantaneous casing pressure measurements. This coincidence implied that the occurrence of this hump was most probably a result of the movement of TSV. Further flow field analyses indicated that the interaction of the low-energy leakage fluid from adjacent passages with the broken-down tip leakage vortex (TLV) was the flow mechanism for the formation of TSV. Once TSV appeared in tip flow fields, its rearward movement would lead to a periodic variation in near-tip blade loading, which in turn altered the strength of TLV and TSV, accordingly, the low-energy regions associated with the breakdown of TLV and the motion of TSV, thus establishing a self-sustained unsteady flow oscillation in tip flow fields.

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