The Dowty logo, showing the association with GE Aviation.
Dowty Rotol was a British engineering company based in Staverton, Gloucestershire specialised in the manufacture of propellers and propeller components. Following a series of changes of ownership, the Dowty Rotol facility at Staverton is owned by General Electric, operating as part of its GE Aviation Systems division.
The Company was formed as Rotol Airscrews in 1937 by Rolls-Royce and Bristol Engines to take over both companies' propeller development, the market being too small to really need more than one company in this space. The name is a contraction of "ROlls-Royce" and "BrisTOL". Rotol's props were always considered leading edge, its models equipping the Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, and many other Second World War-era aircraft. By the end of the war it had introduced the first five-bladed propeller to see widespread use, used on late-model Spitfires. In 1943 the company changed name from Rotol Airscrews Limited to Rotol Limited and in 1952 it acquired British Messier Limited a specialist in landing gear and hydraulics.
In 1958 Bristol Aeroplane and Rolls-Royce agreed to sell Rotol and British Messier to the Dowty Group. By 1959 Rotal and British Messier along with Dowty Equipment and Dowty Fuel Systems became part of the new Dowty Aviation Division based at Cheltenham.
In 1968 the company introduced the first fibreglass propellers, which went on to see widespread use. Since then it has migrated to carbon fibre, and remains a leader in propeller design.
GE's current Dowty propeller lineup is used on many turboprop feederliners, including the Dash 8Q400, Saab 340 and Saab 2000, as well as turboprop transport aircraft such as the latest models of the C-130J and Alenia C-27. Dowty Propellers can also be found on LCAC's from the United States Navy and other militaries. The National Air and Space Museum's Udvar Hazy Center, Virginia, has one such propeller example presently on display.