This paper investigates the role of tip clearance flow in the occurrence of non-synchronous vibrations (NSV) observed in the first axial rotor of a high-speed high-pressure compressor (HPC) in an aero-engine. NSV is an aero-elastic phenomenon where the rotor blades vibrate at non-integral multiples of the shaft rotational frequencies in operating regimes where classical flutter is not known to occur. A physical mechanism to explain the NSV phenomenon is proposed based on the blade tip trailing edge impinging jet like flow, and a novel theory based on the acoustic feedback in the jet potential core. The theory suggests that the critical jet velocity, which brings a jet impinging on a rigid structure to resonance, is reduced to the velocities observed in the blade tip secondary flow when the jet impinges on a flexible structure. The feedback mechanism is then an acoustic wave traveling backward in the jet potential core, and this is experimentally demonstrated. A model is proposed to predict the critical tip speed at which NSV can occur. The model also addresses several unexplained phenomena, or missing links, which are essential to connect tip clearance flow unsteadiness to NSV. These are the pressure level, the pitch-based reduced frequency, and the observed step changes in blade vibration and mode shape. The model is verified using two different rotors that exhibited NSV.

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