No, not the little stick with cotton tufts at the ends but Hartzell’s Q-Tip Prop, developed in the 1970s ostensibly to reduce tip noise and retrofitted to a small population of light singles and twins.


Distinguished by tips that were curled — or bent — aft in the fashion of a Whitcomb Device (i.e., winglet), the Q-Tip was indeed quieter than existing propellers of the day, but Hartzell claims the radical airscrew was conceived not for noise mitigation but as a means of achieving a smaller prop for additional ground or fuselage clearance. “It was more of a small-niche application,” a Hartzell spokesman told BCA, adding that today the company considers the Q-Tip “old technology.”

Long out of production, Hartzell continues to manufacture replacement blades for the prop but is not pursuing any new Q-Tip programs. The Q-Tip is said to be difficult to repair because of the “cold working” of the bent blade tip. And while the prop allowed a smaller diameter, performance gains were small.

Looking back on the Q-Tip, one is given pause to wonder if the bent-tipped prop fell out of market favor when aircraft owners grew weary of having to explain to FAA ramp inspectors that their propellers hadn’t experienced ground strikes but were made that way. . . .