Simple Propeller Modeling for Aircraft Aerodynamics

I am running some simulations to determine in-flight aerodynamic forces on the body of a drone I am designing. I would like to include the effects of the propellers without directly modeling them, since I have experimental data from bench tests of the propellers.

I am thinking about modeling the propellers as disks, and applying pressure boundary conditions on either side of the disks to generate the same forces that I found in my tests. Does anyone have suggestions for how I could improve my simulation?

Hi @smcclure,

did you already have a look at the workshop SimScale offered a while ago?

Some of the videos of the webinar might cover what you want to do. As far as I know we did not model the propellers as disks but you could try it with the approach you mentioned :slight_smile:

If you have any questions, feel free to ask any time!

Have a nice weekend,


Hi @smcclure,

interesting project you’re working on! To make sure I understand correctly: You’re working on structural simulations of the drone body, correct? Not aerodynamic flow sims?



Hi @dheiny ,
Thank you for your help. I am working on aerodynamic flow simulations. I would like to determine the lift, drag and pitching moment vs. angle of attack.

The drone workshop was helpful, but I would be interested to hear any other suggestions you have.


You can use a fan-type boundary condition to provide pressure jump/drop - it needs to act like a cyclic/cyclicAMI BC in the interior, see OpenFOAM and

I am not sure if SimScale has got it. The only fan-related BC I can find acts on inlet/outlet patches SimScale Documentation | Online Simulation Software | SimScale.

Has anybody made any progress on simulating the propeller as an actuator disk? I’m also interested in this.

Hi @dusan,

As of now, I don’t think so. You are very welcome to start it! We can give you some input here on the forums as you progress!