Much of the current understanding of tip leakage flow has been derived from detailed cascade studies. Such experiments are inherently approximate since it is difficult to simulate the boundary conditions that are present in a real machine, particularly the secondary flows convecting from the upstream stator row and the relative motion of the casing and blade. The problem is further complicated when considering the high pressure turbine rotors of aero engines, where the high Mach numbers must also be matched in order to correctly model the aerodynamics and heat transfer of the leakage flow. More engine-representative tests can be performed on high-speed rotating turbines, but the experimental resolution achievable in such setups is limited. In order to examine the differences between cascade and engine boundary conditions, this paper presents a numerical investigation into the impact of inlet conditions and relative casing motion (RCM) on the leakage flow of a high-pressure turbine rotor. The baseline calculation uses a simplified inlet condition and no relative endwall motion, in typical cascade fashion. Only minor changes to the leakage flow are induced by introducing either a more realistic inlet condition or RCM. However, when both of these conditions are applied simultaneously, the pattern of leakage flow is significantly altered, with ingestion of flow over much of the early suction surface. The paper explores the physical processes driving the changes, the impact on performance and the implications for future experimental investigations.

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