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Compressor Stalls?  
User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 9428 posts, RR: 39
Posted (12 years 1 month 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 10075 times:

Hello everyone!

After looking at today's most popular picture which shows N783UA resting at Yellowknife YZF after suffering a compressor stall, I wondered what exactly a compressor stall is and what causes it.

Having found this thread on the topic, I'm not quite sure if I got it right, so please allow me to ask for a clarification in (very) simple words:

Is a compressor stall essentially an engine flame-out that occurs when there is either
too much air entering the combustion chamber (extinguishing the flame a bit like people extinguish candles) or
when too little air enters the combustion chamber, "asphyxiating" the flame?

Kind regards,

Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
13 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineVC-10 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 1999, 3727 posts, RR: 32
Reply 1, posted (12 years 1 month 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 9959 times:
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Try this thread


A compressor stall is a breakdown in the airflow within the compressor. On an axial flow compressor each vane is shaped like an aerofoil so just as an a/c wing stall's so will a compressor vane. In this case one vane will stall and the stall will spread round the compressor on the opposite direction to the way the engine is rotating.

It is generally caused by airflow disruption across the intake of a bleed valve problem

Normally the flame doesn't go out, the engine just coughs. If you are running an engine and it stalls, just quickly throttle back and it should recover.

User currently offlineStaffan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (12 years 1 month 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 9930 times:

It occurs when the compressor isn't being fed the amount of air it needs to be able to maintain the higher pressure on the other side. A compressor can only maintain a certain pressure ratio and when that ratio is exceeded you'll get a compressor stall. It's basically air "leaking" back the wrong way through the compressor when the pressure difference can't be maintained.
Never seen it myself but it should give a loud bang. Some engines take it better than others.
JT8D for example, to avoid stalls it has springed valves that will release air into the bypass duct if pressure builds up too high after the compressor stage.


User currently offlineGreasespot From Canada, joined Apr 2004, 3104 posts, RR: 19
Reply 3, posted (12 years 1 month 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 9929 times:

The 727 is notorious for compressor stalls in the number 2 position due to the disrupted airflow caused y the fuselage. In fact there are some engines we have that are not able to go into the #2 position due to the fact that they will be subject to compressor stalls. The weird thing is they can come from Overhauls and in the paperwork it will state that is it eligible for a pod installation only. They determine this through the test cell run.


Sometimes all you can do is look them in the eye and ask " how much did your mom drink when she was pregnant with you?"
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14968 posts, RR: 61
Reply 4, posted (12 years 1 month 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 9917 times:

I´ve boroscoped an PW 2040 once which had suffered a serious stall when the pilots throttled back for take off power to climb power. The engine quit with a loud bang (acc. to the captain they thought they hiot a small plane), with excessive vibrations afterwards. They shut down the engine and turned back.
There were a few pieces missing on the first stage of the HPC, but thew 17th stage looked like somebody had fired a shotgun into it. The aerodynamic forces during the stall apperently caused a blade in a low stage of the compressor to disintegrate and the damage spread like an avalanche through the engine. It was probably caused by a faulty VBV actuator (variable bleed valve). When the pilots throttled back, the HPC couldn´t digest the amount of air anymore the LPC was delivering and since this air didn´t have a way to escape from the engine through the VBVs it went back forward against the flow through the LPC. Needless to say that we spent a few days in Treviso changing it, together with a BA crew. Nice blokes!  Smile


Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
User currently offlineDC-10Tech From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 298 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (12 years 1 month 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 9719 times:

MD-11 Engineer is right about that. Stalls, especially at high throttle settings are usually the end of the engine's internals. VBV and VSV malfunctions are usual culprits. They Pireps are almost always the same, loud bang heard/felt, throttled back, vibrations continue to worsen, engine shut down. We find the larger blades with minor damage and the really small blades toasted!

I've heard many a compressor stall on the ground, they sound like a cannon going off. From inside, it can feel like a large truck as hit the aircraft. You fell a solid thud in your seat and the airframe!

User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 9428 posts, RR: 39
Reply 6, posted (12 years 1 month 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 9689 times:

Thanks everyone!

Let me confirm if I got the "throttle back compressor stall" right:

When the engine is throttled back, pressure between the LPC and the HPC raises - which is normal. Sometimes, that pressure can raise too high, and then air would normally escape through dedicated (bleed air) valves. In case those do not function normally, the air has "no way to go" except back out through the LPC.

Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
User currently offlineSAS-A321 From Denmark, joined Mar 2002, 401 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (12 years 1 month 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 9679 times:

There is a video of a Swiss A330 having a compressor stall. You can find it on this site: http://www.luchtzak.be/top.html, but you'll have to registrate. It is FREE!

It's Scandinavian
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14968 posts, RR: 61
Reply 8, posted (12 years 1 month 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 9656 times:

There are essentialy two types of compressor stalls:

1) Stall on engine acceleration, often caused by a malfunctioning variable stator vane actuator. The LPC accelerates and the VSVs don´t open to let more air into the HPC, resulting in a pressure buildup between the LPC and HPC, causing a reversion of flow in the LPC.

2) Stall on engine descelaration, often caused by a VBV malfunction.
HPC spools down faster (it doesn´t have the inertia of the big fan attached to it) and can´t digest the air coming from the LPC. Normaly bleedvalves at the engine station 2.5 (between the LPC and HPC) will open to let the excess air escape. If this doesn´t happen, same result as above.
Stall might also be caused by a low pressure in the intake, e.g. during ground runs.
At CGN we have to use a closed run up hangar for power runs due to noise reasons. A 757 is about the limit what this hangar permits, because it limits the air going into the engine (not enough volume in front of the engines). Once we were testing a 767 with GE CF6-80 engines and had to stop it after some moderate stalls. Thisd is also the reason why you should turn an engine facing the wind for starting it in high winds.


Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
User currently offlineFlight152 From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 3508 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (12 years 1 month 23 hours ago) and read 9560 times:

Why would this condition require an engine change?

User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14968 posts, RR: 61
Reply 10, posted (12 years 1 month 19 hours ago) and read 9543 times:

The reason is that a severe stall will overstress the compressor blades and vanes and cause them to break off. A broken off metal part in a rotating engine wreaks havoc with it. You can literarely shake the inards out.


Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
User currently offlineTimT From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 168 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (12 years 1 month 19 hours ago) and read 9536 times:

The high bypass engines,(CF-6, JT-9, RB-211) will NOT take any compressor stalls without requiring a borescope inspection for damage, Usually a stall on one of these engines is accompanied by an overtemp and part failure, thus requiring the engine change.

The JT-8 engine used on the DC-9 and 727 will just about take anything you throw at it. I've seen and heard them sound like a choo-choo.

Several years ago a major airline almost lost their ETOPS because of "top of descent" stalls on the 767 powered by JT-9 7R4D engines. When the crew pulled back power to descend, the bleeds didn't react properly and caused the stall. Turned out that during rebuild the tolerances in the HPC were not being held to tight enough clearances,

User currently offlineExpratt From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 311 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (12 years 1 month 2 hours ago) and read 9492 times:

A compressor stall, as several have pointed out, is a disruption of the airflow through the compressor. Compressor stalls are typified by the bang and flames out the inlet and tailpipe. Generally, the larger the engine, the louder the bang. Many times, the bang is so loud that the crews think that they may have hit something or even had an inflight explosion. Stalls can be caused a bleed or variable geometry system malfunction, throttle movement, extreme yaw, pitch, or roll maneuvers, cross winds, ingestion of foreign material, internal damage, engine deterioration, exhaust gas reingestion during thrust reverse. Stalls can occur just about anywhere the engine is operating: taxiing, power up for takeoff, top of climb, top of descent, cruise, landing roll. Different engine react differently when they have a compressor stall. As Tim T pointed out, the JT8s can stall a lot and not suffer any damage (with some exceptions). Others engines, especially the bigger high bypass fans, can have major turbine damage following a stall due to an overtemp. A compressor stall will rarely cause damage to the compressor other than doing minor damage if something like a rivet gets shaken loose. Usually, if the compressor is found damaged, it was that damage that lead to the compressor stall. The exception is if the engine is continuously stalling that can lead to a high cycle fatigue fracture of a compressor blade and the resultant downstream damage. Some engines are really easy to stall such as a JT8 in a 727-100 center position with the oval inlet and S-duct. Do a snap accel with the throttle and you could probably get a stall. Other engines have so much stall margin that you have to really work at it doing multiple Bodie excursions to get it to stall.

User currently offline411A From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 1826 posts, RR: 8
Reply 13, posted (12 years 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 9452 times:

Compressor stalls on RR RB.211-524 engines (used on B747's and L1011's) are nearly unheard of, at least with the airlines that I have personally operated for.
The three shaft design (complete with slugger valve) was very tolerant of rough throttle handling.
Good thing too as some pilots don't have a clue.
There were however a few problems with the VIGV's, which produced pod oscillation, AKA 'pod nod'.

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