Fixed Pitch and Other Propeller Types

When you first begin training to become a pilot, the amount of technical information and jargon can become overwhelming. You need to learn the principles affecting lift, the variety of regulations governing what altitudes you can fly at, and you need to get the answer to questions like where to go for fixed pitch propeller repair and other necessary maintenance.

While the amount of information may seem daunting at first, once the basic principles are understood, you can apply them to different types of aircraft and different types of flight.

One vital factor in deciding what sort of certification to gain is knowing what kind of plane you wish to fly using what type of propeller. There are several factors to be considered, including:

  • Will you be flying a single or multiple-engine aircraft?
  • Is there likely to be bad weather where you will be flying?
  • What is your budget?
  • How much automation do you want to have vs. hands-on control during all aspects of flight?

All of the above questions influence the choice of propeller to look for on your aircraft. The propeller impacts all areas of flight.

Pilots may choose to have the most state of the art propeller, which helps to automate more of the flying experience, or they may want to have more control for a more classic flying experience.

Read on to learn more about the different types of propellers available and which type is best suited for every kind of flying conditions. Contact Stockton Propeller for all your propeller repair and maintenance needs.

Fixed Pitch Propellers

A fixed pitch is the simplest type of propeller. It is linked mechanically to the engine, and many of the simpler, light aircraft use it. This simplicity makes these planes easier to fly in some sense as engine speed is directly linked to propeller speed.

Some limitations may apply to the use of this propeller.

The propeller’s angle is set in one position and remains in that position for the entire flight. This fixed position means that the propeller angle is the best estimate and compromise of positions for takeoff, landing, and flight. At times, however, this results in the engine not running at its most efficient.

closeup of a worn propeller on an old airplane

Fixed Pitch Propeller Repair

Fixed pitch propellers can run into occasional problems. One of those is vibration, which can take a toll not only on the aircraft but upon the passengers riding in the plane. This vibration can cause excessive noise as well as resulting in needed maintenance or repair.

If you need fixed pitch propeller repair, Stockton Propeller is a full-service facility in Northern California. We have the skills to maintain and repair a wide range of propeller brands. We also have experts in blade reconditioning and can ensure that your propeller is running at its best.

Variable Pitch Propellers

Unlike their fixed-pitch counterparts, variable pitch propellers can alter the propeller’s angle to suit the different flying situations. Varying the propeller’s angle means that the propeller is in the best position for takeoff, flight, or landing, as is needed.

One of the useful features of most variable pitch propellers is that they can use feathering in case of an emergency. When feathering is in use, the propellers turn parallel to the way the air is flowing. The turning stops the rotation of the propellers.

When a variable pitch propeller uses feathering, the goal is to add to the distance the plane can fly. In single-engine planes in an emergency where that engine has shut down, this may increase gliding distance. In a plane where one of several engines has shut down, this will decrease the effect of drag on the propeller and allow the other engines to take over more completely.

One of the simplest forms of variable pitch propeller is a two-speed version where there is one setting for takeoff and one for cruising. A more complex design is the “constant speed unit,” which works by self-governing the pitch angle rather than selection by the pilot.

close up of silver small plane propeller

Constant Speed Propellers

An improvement on the variable pitch propeller’s constant speed unit is the constant speed propeller. This innovation works to maximize the effectiveness of the engine. It functions to keep the engine at a continuous speed no matter what combination of factors is in play.

The pitch of the propeller adjusts according to the engine’s speed. When taking off or flying, the engine adjusts to meet the needs of the aircraft to maintain the required lift and thrust. The pilot can set a particular speed of engine rotation, and the governor acts to control the propeller’s pitch to preserve this instruction.

Reverse Pitch Propellers

Some variable pitch propellers are so advanced that they use what is known as negative blade pitch, or reverse thrust. These propellers can change their angle so that they can slow down the aircraft.

Changing the propellers’ angle to reverse the thrust is particularly important when landing on runways that are short or experiencing bad weather conditions, such as rain or ice.

The reverse pitch of the propellers, in effect, pushes against the forward momentum of the plane to shorten the length of taxiing. Some propellers can allow the plane to back up, like floatplanes on water.

Pilot leaning out towards the back of a small prop plane giving a thumbs up sign

Propeller Maintenance and Repair

Care of your plane’s components before any issues arise is vital to you and your passengers’ safety. Proper maintenance of all parts of your plane is crucial to its long term safety and longevity.

The propeller is no exception. Regardless of propeller type, maintenance should be performed on a regular basis, and some procedures require a professional shop to complete those tasks.

Stockton Propeller is a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility with the required equipment and expertise to perform

  • both static and dynamic balancing,
  • metal repair and refinishing,
  • NDT testing, and
  • on-site etch and alodine surface prep.

Contact Stockton Propeller today to schedule an appointment, request a free quote, or discuss your specific propeller needs.


What License Do you Need to Fly a Twin Blade Propeller Plane?

There are many questions to be answered when a pilot first begins to look at the training and certification process. Among those are the questions like where to take classes, what sort of license is needed for the pilot’s goals, and what sort of equipment they want to fly. For example, what kind of license would you need to fly a twin-blade propeller plane?

It may seem overwhelming to try to wade through all of the information available and all of the different options to pursue to become a certified pilot. Aspiring pilots need to learn the variety of available licenses and make the best judgment of what will best suit them while considering factors such as:

  • Investment of time
  • Cost of training
  • Availability of training in their area
  • Personal goals they wish to accomplish
  • Type of plane they would use or purchase

Aside from the initial cost of purchasing a plane, pilots should also bear in mind the relative costs of maintaining that airplane. Stockton Propeller, a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility serving Northern California, can help you with your propeller repair, no matter what kind of plane you end up flying.

Types of Certifications

One of the first questions a trainee pilot must answer is what type of certifications are available for them to pursue? All beginning pilots begin their path to licensure as “Student Pilots.”After achieving this status and meeting other requirements, it is up to them to decide what they would like to pursue after this step. They may choose:

  • Private Pilot Certificate
  • Recreational Pilot Certificate
  • Sport Pilot Certificate

The distinction between these certifications may seem confusing at first, but pilots need to consider a few fundamental differences. Pilots should also bear in mind that if they achieve one level of certification, they can always continue on and gain additional certification if they want additional flexibility of the type of craft they want to fly, how high they would like to fly, or if they would like payment for their flying.

Pilot entering the cabin of a private plane with another pilot and the cockpit in the background


This certification is the most popular of the three options. While it does involve additional hours of training as it takes 40 hours to achieve, it offers the greatest level of flexibility in what a pilot can do after gaining their license. This license may give students the greatest return on the investment of their time and money into training. The Private Pilot License will allow pilots to pursue further training that can lead to becoming a commercial pilot or even a flight instructor.

After finishing training, this license will allow pilots to pursue additional training to receive their Instrument and Commercial Pilot certifications. A multi-engine certification will let pilots fly twin-propeller planes that require special training in what to do if one of the engines breaks down.  The Commercial accreditation will also allow pilots to be paid for their flying, giving compensation for their time and expense of training.

Father and son in the cockpit of a small plane flying


The Recreational Pilot License is considered a step down from the Private Pilot License. There are more restrictions placed on the pilot, in particular, no flying professionally.

A Recreational License prohibits pilots from flying aircraft with more than 180 horsepower.

This certification may appeal to some due to the lower level of required time in flight training at 30 hours. Less time required also requires a lower monetary investment.

One restriction placed on this license is that the pilot may only fly lower than 2000 feet AGL (above ground level) and that the aircraft flown by the pilot is not certified for more than four occupants.

The restrictions placed on this license may not be an issue for many pilots that choose this option. However, a pilot may later decide to continue their training and earn greater freedoms given by a Private Pilot certification.

Pilot with headphones sitting in an open air cockpit of small plane


What if you only want to fly smaller lighter craft? In 2004 the Sport License was created by the FAA in response to the growing trend of flying these innovative crafts. Pilots with this certification have greater restrictions on what sort of aircraft they can fly.

Pilots who want to fly planes with only themselves and perhaps one passenger on board should look into this license.

These planes are considered easier to fly, and the certification takes less training and less expenditure to achieve. Only 20 hours of flight training are required. This may appeal to pilots whose only goal is flying this sort of craft, as some of the additional training requirements do not apply.

Additionally, pilots who work toward this certification do not need to have a medical certificate as they would with other licenses. These lesser requirements may make this appealing to some flyers.

If pilots pursue this certification but then decide they would like to fly a greater variety of aircraft, they may continue their studies to earn one of the other certifications.

When To Seek Qualified Help and Repairs For Your Twin Blade Propeller Plane

As they continue the process of deciding which license to pursue, pilots need to consider many factors. One of those is what expenses they will incur when it comes to purchasing or renting a plane, as well as what associated costs are likely to be met with when repairs are needed.

It is important for pilots to thoughtfully consider where to have each aspect of their planes maintained and repaired. Because their very lives depend on the results of this maintenance, the choice of maintenance facility is a vital one.

Stockton Propeller is a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility providing service to individuals, FBOs, and air carriers. So, no matter what type of pilot certification you have, we can assist with your governor and propeller repair and maintenance needs.