This course provides both fundamental and applied knowledge to understand airflows, vehicle dynamics and control and methods for computational modelling. It will provide you with practical experience in the measurement, analysis, modelling and simulation of airflows and aerial vehicles.

You have the choice of two specialist options which you choose once you commence your studies: Flight Dynamics or Aerodynamics. 


  • Start dateOctober
  • DurationMSc: Full-time - one year; Part-time - up to three years; PgCert: Full-time - up to one year; Part-time - two years
  • DeliveryTaught modules 40%, group project 20% (dissertation for part-time students), individual project 40%
  • QualificationMSc, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

Suitable if you have an interest in aerodynamic design, flow control, flow measurement, flight dynamics and flight control. Choose your specialist option from the following once you commence your studies:

  • Flight Dynamics option: if you want to develop a career in flight physics and aircraft stability and control, more specifically in the fields of flight control system design, flight simulation and flight testing;
  • Aerodynamics option: if you want to develop a career in flight physics and specifically in the fields of flow simulation, flow measurement and flow control.

Why this course?

The aerospace industry in the UK is the largest in the world, outside of the USA. Aerodynamics and flight dynamics will remain a key element in the development of future aircraft and in reducing civil transport environmental issues, making significant contributions to the next generation of aircraft configurations. 

In the military arena, aerodynamic modelling and flight dynamics play an important role in the design and development of combat aircraft and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). The continuing search for aerodynamic refinement and performance optimisation for the next generation of aircraft and surface vehicles creates the need for specialist knowledge of fluid flow behaviour.

Cranfield University has been at the forefront of postgraduate education in aerospace engineering since 1946. The MSc in Aerospace Dynamics stems from the programme in Aerodynamics which was one of the first master's courses offered by Cranfield and is an important part of our heritage. The integration of aerodynamics with flight dynamics reflects the long-term link with the aircraft flight test activity established by Cranfield.

You will have the opportunity to fly during a Student Experience Flight in our National Flying Laboratory Centre’s (NFLC) light aircraft. This flight experience will complement your MSc studies, focussing on the effects of controls, aircraft stability and angle of attack. During the flight you will have the opportunity to take control of the aircraft. Each experience is 2 to 3 hours in duration and includes a pre-flight safety briefing outlining the details of the manoeuvres to be flown, a flight of approximately 1 hour, and a post-flight debrief. Read Dominic's blog detailing his flight experience.

Graduates of this course are eligible to join the Cranfield College of Aeronautics Alumni Association (CCAAA), an active community which holds a number of networking and social events throughout the year.

Informed by industry

The Industrial Advisory Panel, comprising senior industry professionals, provides input into the curriculum in order to improve the employment prospects of our graduates. Panel members include:

  • Adrian Gaylord, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR),
  • Trevor Birch, Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl),
  • Chris Fielding, BAE Systems,
  • Anastassios Kokkalis, Voith,
  • Stephen Rolson, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS),
  • Clyde Warsop, BAE Systems.

Course details

This course consists of optional taught modules, an individual research project and a group flight test project.

The group flight test project consists of two compulsory modules that offer an initial introduction to aerospace dynamics and provide grounding for the group flight test. Choice is a key feature of this course, with specialist options in either aerodynamics or flight dynamics. Choose your option once you have commenced your studies.

Course delivery

Taught modules 40%, group project 20% (dissertation for part-time students), individual project 40%

Group project

All students undertake the Flight Experimental Methods module during October and November. This involves up to seven separate flight tests in the the National Flying Laboratory Centre (NFLC) Jetstream which are undertaken, analysed, and discussed in a group flight test report. You will present the results and analysis of one test during an individual viva. This is an important element of the course as you will experience the application of specialist skills within a realistic test environment plane, enabling you to produce a collaborative report.

Individual project

The individual research project allows you to delve deeper into an area of specific interest. It is very common for industrial partners to put forward real world problems or areas of development as potential research project topics. The project is carried out under the guidance of an academic staff member who acts as your supervisor. The individual research project component takes place between April and August.

If agreed with the Course Director, part-time students have the opportunity to undertake projects in collaboration with their place of work, which would be supported by academic supervision.

Previous individual research projects have covered:

Aerodynamics option

  • Spiked body instabilities at supersonic speeds;
  • Aerodynamic loads on a race car wing in a vortex wake;
  • Lateral/directional stability of a tailless aircraft;
  • Aerodynamic drag penalties due to runback ice;
  • Automotive flow control using fluidic sheets;
  • Aerodynamic design and optimisation of a blended wing body aircraft.

Flight Dynamics option

  • Flight dynamic modelling of large amplitude rotorcraft dynamics;
  • Decision making for autonomous flight in icing conditions;
  • Comparative assessment of trajectory planning methods for UAVs;
  • Machine vision and scientific imaging for autonomous rotorcraft;
  • Linear parameter varying control of a quadrotor vehicle;
  • Gust load alleviation system for large flexible civil transport.


Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.

Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course.

Flight Experimental Methods (Group Flight Test Report)


    The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to the performance, stability and control characteristics of a conventional aircraft.

    • Air data systems, Standard atmosphere and pressure error measurement.
    • Basic aircraft aerodynamics: lift and drag.
    • Cruise and climb performance.
    • Static equilibrium and trim.
    • Longitudinal static stability, trim, pitching moment equation, static margins and manoeuvre margins.
    • Lateral-directional trim and static stability.
    • Introduction to dynamic stability and modal analysis

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Describe the concepts of equilibrium, trim, static, manoeuvre and dynamic stability;
2. Evaluate the cruise and climb performance and the aerodynamic and stability characteristics of a conventional aircraft;
3. Apply the principles of flight test analysis and assessment;
4. Compile and present a technical report in written and verbal form;
5. Work effectively in a group environment.

Individual Research Project


    The award of a Masters degree resulting from a taught programme of study requires the student to submit a thesis based on a structured programme of research. This structured programme is typically delivered through collaboration with an industrial sponsor; although it may it may be driven by research interests of the School’s academics. The thesis should satisfactorily set out the results of the structured programme and demonstrate the candidate’s ability to conduct original investigations, to test ideas (whether the candidate’s own or those of others) and to obtain appropriate conclusions from the work. In most cases, the results of the research programme should be set in the context of related work previously published by others. The student is required to communicate their findings in a thesis and through a viva voce, oral presentation and a poster.

    The subject matter range will be dependent upon the specific nature of the project.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Identify a research question.
2. Develop project objectives.
3. Select and justify methodologies appropriate to the task.
4. Plan and execute a work programme with reference to professional project management processes (e.g. time management; risk management; contingency planning; resource allocation; health and safety).
5. Evaluate and critically analyse literature; analyse data, synthesise a discussion, generate conclusions.
6. Place the findings of the work into the context of the work of others.
7. Communicate findings in the form of a thesis, formal presentation and viva.

Elective modules
A selection of modules from the following list need to be taken as part of this course

Compressible Flows


    To provide a knowledge of the physics of compressible flows.

    • Thermodynamics and Equations of Motion: Governing equations, introduction to thermodynamics, temperature, energy, entropy. Concept of adiabatic, reversible and isentropic flows, steady flow equations, nozzle choking and convergent/divergent nozzles
    • Shock waves: Shock tube problems, Normal shock relations, oblique shock relations, Prandtl-Meyer deflection, shock wave interactions and reflections
    • Characteristic relations: Characteristic relations of the governing equations and their physical interpretation, one dimensional results
    • Hypersonic Flow: Introduction to the main features of hypersonic flow
    • CFD for Compressible Flows : One dimensional linear advection equations, Godunov method, higher order methods
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student will be able to:

  • Understand the fundamental phenomena associated with compressible flows
  • Competently apply analytical theory to compressible flow problems
  • Understand the fundamentals of CFD methods for compressible flows.

Control Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr James Whidborne

    To provide knowledge of the fundamentals of control engineering for the analysis and design of control systems in aerospace applications.

    • Feedback control system characteristics
    • Control system performance
    • Stability of Linear Feedback Systems
    • Root locus method
    • Frequency response method
    • Nyquist stability
    • Classical controller design
    • State variable controller design
    • Robust control
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Analyse and explain the stability, characteristics, behaviour and robustness of single input/ single- output feedback control systems.
2. Design controllers for single-input single-output systems.
3. Use modern PC-based CAD software to solve control engineering problems and design control systems using classical methods.
4. Recognise and explain the advantages and limitations of feedback and recognise the importance of robustness.

Experimental Aerodynamics

Module Leader
  • Professor Kevin Garry
  • Jenny Holt
  • Dr Mudassir Lone

    This module aims to give students the skills and understanding to asses commonly encountered wind tunnel test requirements and to design appropriate experiments through knowledge of wind tunnel design, measurement techniques and data analysis.


    • Wind tunnel design and layout – subsonic, transonic, supersonic circuit design and test section layouts.
    • Measurements Principles for subsonic and supersonic flows: Force and moment measurements.
    • Intrusive Flow Measurements – Pressure based systems, hot wire anemometry, skin friction and transition detection.
    • Optical Techniques – Particle Image Velocimetry, Laser Doppler Anemometry, Shadowgraph technique, Schlieren, Interferometry.
    • Calculation of wind tunnel speed, interference corrections, lift induced errors and blockage corrections.
    • Data Acquisition and sensor selection.
    • Analysis and post processing of experimental data including considerations and techniques for calculation of experimental errors.
    • Software tools for data processing and parameter estimation: Matlab
    • XFoil AVL.

    This module is a prerequisite for any Aerospace Dynamics MSc candidate planning to undertake experimental work as part of their MSc thesis project.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Safely operate the departments low speed teaching wind tunnels to perform basic wind tunnel testing.
2. Analyse and post process recorded wind tunnel data.
3. Evaluate and select appropriate instrumentation and hardware for common wind tunnel test types.
4. Describe the design principles of wind tunnel layouts and components.
5. Propose an experimental design for common test problems.

Flight Dynamics Principles


    To provide a knowledge of the dynamics, stability and control of aircraft and their interpretation in the context of flying qualities.


    The Equations of Motion

    • Development of the equations of motion for a rigid airframe: the linearised equations for longitudinal symmetric motion and lateral-directional asymmetric motion
    • Solution of the equations of motion: the dynamics of a linear second order system, aircraft response transfer functions, state space models
    • Aerodynamics modelling: aerodynamic stability and control derivatives, derivative estimation, modelling limitations
    • Stability: Routh-Hurwitz criterion, interpretation on the s-plane

    Flight Dynamics

    • Aircraft dynamics: stability modes, longitudinal dynamics, lateral-directional dynamics, reduced order models, time response, frequency response
    • Flying and handling qualities: assessment, requirements, aircraft role, pilot opinion rating, control anticipation parameter, flying qualities requirements on the s-plane
    • Flight control: introduction to stability augmentation, closed loop system analysis, the root locus plot, longitudinal stability augmentation, lateral-directional stability augmentation
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

  • Derive and solve the small perturbations equations of motion for an airplane
  • Assess the flying qualities of the airplane
  • Recommend and design simple stability augmentation system strategies to rectify flying qualities deficiencies
  • Plan, manage, execute and report on a stability and control assessment of an airplane.

Flying Qualities and Flight Control

Module Leader
  • Dr Mudassir Lone

    The aims of this module are: to describe the essential features of typical command and stability augmentation systems; to introduce contemporary handling qualities criteria and to show how they constrain flight control system design; to demonstrate handling qualities design procedures.


    • Flight control system architecture; Multiple redundant systems; Aircraft models; Aircraft state equations; Relaxed longitudinal static stability; Control system properties; Control law design.
    • Autostabiliser design using state feedback; Design of a rate command attitude hold command and stability augmentation system; Lateral-directional autostabiliser design.
    • Introduction to aircraft handling qualities; Control anticipation parameter; High order systems; The C* criterion; The Neal and Smith criterion; The Gibson criteria; Analysis of the Gibson dropback criterion; Law order equivalent systems; The bandwidth criterion.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Be able to use basic tools for flight control system analysis and design.
2. Understand the conflict between flight control system architecture design for safety with functional design for control.
3. Appreciate the design constraints on command and stability augmentation systems for the provision of acceptable flying qualities.
4. Be able to analyse and design typical command and stability augmentation systems.
5. Be able to interpret flying and handling qualities criteria in order to determine flight control system design constraints.

Launch and Re-Entry Aerodynamics

Module Leader
  • Dr Simon Prince
    To give candidates with a background in physical science or general engineering an appreciation of the principal aerodynamic factors affecting the design of spacecraft and launch vehicles.
    The course describes the thermal and dynamic loads experienced by launch and re-entry vehicles.

    The course will cover:
    • The fundamentals of flight at high Mach number within the earth atmosphere The design and flow characteristics of hypersonic vehicles.
    • Boundary layers, heat transfer and thermal protection, real gas effects Equations of motion for planetary re-entry.
    • Ballistic entry and high angles of descent Lifting entry.

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Apply hypersonic aerodynamics theory to the analysis of characteristic flow features during high Mach number flight.
2. Identify principal aerodynamic design issues for the launch and descent / re-entry phases of a space mission.
3. Calculate thermal and dynamic loads experienced by a vehicle during launch and re- entry.

Multivariable Control for Aerospace Applications

Module Leader
  • Dr James Whidborne

    To provide a knowledge of modern control techniques for the analysis and design of multivariable aerospace control systems.


    Multivariable System Analysis

    • Multivariable linear systems theory
    • System realisations
    • Controllability, observability and canonical forms
    • Size of signals and systems

    Multivariable Control System Design 

    • System interconnection and feedback
    • Optimal linear quadratic control and estimation
    • Uncertainty and conditions for robustness
    • H-infinity optimal control
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student will be able to:

  • Analyse the stability, robustness and performance of multivariable aerospace control systems
  • Design robust and optimal feedback control systems using state variable techniques, using MATLAB
  • Recognise the advantages and limitations of optimal feedback control.

Technology for Sustainable Aviation


    The aim of this module is to provide knowledge of the current technology issues in relation to reducing the impact of aviation of the environment.

    • General overview of the impact of aviation on the environment, historical trends, current status, aviation profile and technology and cost metrics.
    • Current research focus and environmental targets.
    • Propulsion systems: engine cycles; fuel burn; internal aerodynamics, open rotors.
    • Airframe and aircraft configurations: Range equation; maximising L/D; profile drag; NLFC; HLFC.
    • Overview of noise related technology drivers. Local air quality implications.
    • Aircraft operations: multi-stage long-haul, ATC. Contrails.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  1. Have a basic knowledge of the performance characteristics of commercial aircraft in relation to environmental impact.
  2. Understand the relative impact of key engineering design and operational aspects of commercial aircraft on the environment.
  3. Assess the relative importance of technological changes in terms of commercial aircraft design.

Viscous Flow

Module Leader
  • Professor Kevin Garry
  • Jenny Holt

    To provide a detailed understanding of basic equations and mathematical modelling techniques used in fluid flows and a knowledge of boundary layer flows including the methods used for their modelling and prediction.


    Basic Concepts:
    The Navier-Stokes Equations.
    Equation of Continuity: Viscous Stresses - shear and normal.
    Navier-Stokes equations.
    The viscous flow energy equation.
    Similarity parameters.
    The 2D boundary layer equations - continuity, x and y momentum and energy.
    Incompressible laminar flow on a smooth flat plate.
    Blasius solution.
    Displacement thickness.
    The effective body concept.
    Influence of displacement thickness on lift.
    Skin friction on a thin flat plate.
    Boundary layer separation.

    Characteristics of turbulent flow:
    Turbulent kinetic energy.
    Eddy viscosity.
    Mixing length hypothesis.
    Structure of the turbulent boundary layer.
    Law of the wall.
    Approximate formula for zero pressure gradient turbulent boundary layers.
    Separation prediction.
    Profile drag.

    The Atmospheric Boundary Layer:
    The nature of the wind.
    Mean hourly wind speed profiles.
    Diffusion of pollutants.
    Typical treatment of strong wind profiles.
    Wind tunnel simulation of wind engineering problems.

    Laminar boundary layer in compressible flow:
    Similarity parameters in compressible flow.
    General properties of thermal boundary layers.
    Prandtl number.
    Heat transfer and skin friction.
    Reynolds analogy.
    Compressible laminar flow over a flat plate.
    Effect of freestream pressure gradient.
    Shock boundary layer interaction.

    Boundary layer transition:
    The transition process. Factors effecting transition. Laminar flow aerofoils.
    Boundary layer control.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Apply knowledge of the structure within a boundary layer to flow related problems.
2. Explain current turbulence models and how they may be applied.
3. Interpret and calculate characteristics of the atmospheric boundary layer and apply the data to wind engineering problems.
4. Identify boundary layer control techniques and assess their use for future aeronautical applications.

Air-Vehicle Modelling and Simulation

Module Leader
  • Dr James Whidborne
  • Dr Mudassir Lone
    Mathematical modelling and simulation of modern air-vehicles is a complex activity which requires a wide range of technical skills to be applied using a multi-disciplinary approach. The aims of this course are to provide the student with the skills and knowledge necessary to model, simulate and then critically analyse the resultant non-linear motion of modern air vehicles using advanced design and analysis software tools.
    • Introduction to mathematical modelling and simulation; systems of non-linear ODEs; equilibrium, linearisation and stability; numerical & computational tools (10 hours).
    • Model building; model testing, validation and management; trimming and numerical linearisation (10 hours).

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  1. Describe the requirements for large amplitude non-linear mathematical modelling and simulation of aerospace vehicles.
  2. Describe air-vehicle dynamics as a set of ordinary differential equations.
  3. Recognise, implement and apply selected numerical integration routines for model simulation using modern software tools.
  4. Define and implement example air-vehicles in terms of their aerodynamic, control, mass and inertia characteristics.  Evaluate and critically compare the resultant motion.
  5. Identify the requirements for model testing, verification and validation, and demonstrate their application to an air-vehicle model.
  6. Define mathematical trim conditions, how they relate specifically to air-vehicles and validate an air vehicle using trim data generated for a range of flight conditions and vehicle configurations.
  7. Define mathematical linearisation, how it relates specifically to air-vehicles and validate a non-linear air-vehicle model using the linear model equivalents generated at a range of flight conditions.

Fundamentals of Rotorcraft Performance, Stability and Control


    To provide an elementary insight into rotorcraft performance estimation and provide knowledge of the stability and control characteristics of helicopters.

    • Forces and moments acting on a rotorcraft
    • Performance estimation in the hover and forward flight
    • Flight test methods for performance evaluation
    • Conventional rotorcraft control and stability
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student will be able to:

  • Describe the forces acting on a helicopter
  • Estimate the power required by a rotorcraft in the hover or forward flight
  • Assess the viability of a typical flight profile
  • Describe the key stability and control attributes of a typical rotorcraft

Aerospace Navigation and Sensors

Module Leader
  • Dr Stephen Hobbs
    The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to the principles of aerospace navigation systems based on inertial sensors and satellite navigation as well as to provide an introduction to the principles of sensor fusion, system integration and error analysis and prediction.
    GNSS and INS

    • Introduction (1 hour)
    Overview of navigation principles, typical applications; axis systems and projections (1 hour)
    • Inertial Navigation Systems (3 hours)
    Principles of inertial navigation; accelerometers, gyroscopes, specific technologies such as Ring Laser Gyros; Axis transformations and mechanisation of IN equations; Errors in inertial navigation, Schuler loop tuning, INS modelling & aiding
    • GNSS (6 hours)
    Development history: GNSS, GPS, GLONASS, EGNOS, Galileo; GPS system architecture (ground, space, user segments); Code (CDMA) and carrier techniques; signal processing (correlation), integer ambiguities; Error sources (natural, other); Augmentation: differential GPS (local, wide area), other sensors (e.g. INS); Applications / issues: user groups (aviation, space), integrity (RAIM), accuracy, reliability

    Sensors and Data Fusion

    • Error Characteristics of Aircraft Sensors, INS, GPS, VOR, DME (2 lectures)
    • Random Signals And Random Processes (1 lecture)
    • Measurement In Noise (1 lecture)
    • Error Analysis (2 lectures)
    • Discrete Kalman Filter (2 lectures)
    • Case Study: Barometric Aiding For INS (1 lecture)
    • Case Study: GPS models (1 lecture)

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

1. Explain and discuss the roles of inertial and satellite navigation in aerospace.
2. Explain and discuss inertial navigation principles, error sources, and aerospace applications.
3. Explain and discuss satellite navigation principles, error sources, applications and key issues.

Sensors and Data Fusion:
4. Explain the principles of data acquisition systems and design a basic system.
5. Design and implement a simple Kalman filter to process measurements and estimate position, velocity, etc.
6. Appreciate the design methods using to integrate aerospace navigation systems.

Modelling of Dynamic Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr James Whidborne

    To provide an understanding of the mathematical techniques that underpin both classical and modern control law design.

    • The Laplace transform.
    • Transfer-function approach to modelling dynamic systems.
    • State-space approach to modelling dynamic systems.
    • Time-domain analysis of simple dynamic systems.
    • Frequency response of simple dynamic systems.
    • Sampled-data and discrete time systems.

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Use Laplace transform techniques to derive transfer functions of typical mechanical, electrical and fluid systems.
2. Calculate and plot the step and frequency responses of linear systems.
3. Derive the state equations for typical systems.
4. Obtain discrete time representations of linear systems.
5. Use MATLAB for matrix and systems algebra and to plot system responses.

Introduction to Transonic Flow


    The aim of this module is to provide the student with an understanding of transonic flow development and how this affects aerodynamic performance.


    The main emphasis within the course content is on well-ordered flows at subsonic and sonic speeds about smooth bodies such as aerofoils or wings which is particularly relevant to aerodynamic analysis and design.

    Basic concepts in the formation of shock waves and their interaction with viscous flows on aerofoils: 

    • Compressible flow properties of air leading to shock wave formation
    • Supercritical flow development on an aerofoil
    • Shock wave interaction with aerofoil boundary layer and how this changes with Mach number and Reynolds number, including differences between laminar and turbulent boundary layers
    • Development of shock-induced flow separation

    Overall characteristics of swept wings and their flow development:

    • Simple sweep concepts and how wing sweep helps high speed performance
    • Geometric layout of the wings of civil transport aircraft and subsonic military combat aircraft and how these relate to performance requirements
    • Finite-wing effects on pressure distribution and corresponding shock wave patterns, and the importance of appropriate design treatment

    The performance of aerofoils and wings:

    • Influence by the flow development, general performance characteristics of an aerofoil, including methods for drag breakdown
    • Effects of pressure distribution and shock waves on the boundary layer development over the aerofoil surface
    • Differences between Model A and Model B separation characteristics
    • Simple methods for analysing wing drag, including vortex drag, and how flow separation characteristics differ from 2-D

    Wind tunnel testing : 

    • Various types of transonic tunnel, examples of test results on aerofoils and wings to illustrate what had been studied earlier
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student will be able to:

  • Apply their understanding of transonic flows to current aeronautical problems.

Applications of CFD

    To understand the key features of CFD methods used for simulating external flows for engineering applications.
    • CFD methods used in industry.
    • The hierarchy of governing equations
    • Mesh generation techniques
    • Solution strategies

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Demonstrate the ability to build a suitable CFD model for external flow simulation
2. Critically evaluate the limitations of these methods.

Principles of CFD

    • To introduce the foundations of computational fluid dynamics and the mathematical properties of the governing equations.
    • To introduce the basics of numerical analysis and numerical methods for partial differential and algebraic equations.
    • To introduce the concepts of grid generation.
    • To understand the CFD methods used for computing incompressible and compressible flows.
    • To introduce the concepts of High Performance Computing.
    • Introduction to computational fluid dynamics and turbulence modelling.
    • Introduction to numerical analysis.
    • Numerical Integration, Numerical derivation, Discretization using finite difference methods and stability, Error Analysis.
    • Geometry modelling and surface grids.
    • Algebraic mesh generation.
    • Overview of various numerical methods for compressible and incompressible flows.
    • Validation and Verification for CFD
    • Mathematical properties of hyperbolic systems.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Understand basic physical modelling and numerical methods as typically employed by commercial CFD codes.
2. Have an appreciation of the application of CFD to practical engineering problems.

Fundamentals of Aircraft System Identification

Module Leader
  • Dr Mudassir Lone

    To provide fundamental insight into analytical methods and flight test techniques used for the derivation of mathematical models of an aircraft.

    • Basic Systems and Estimation Theory
    • Regression Methods
    • Maximum Likelihood Methods
    • Frequency Domain Methods
    • Flight Test Design and Flight Data Analysis.
Intended learning outcomes

On the completion of this module the diligent student will be able to:

  • Apply available mathematical tools to derive flight dynamic models from flight test data
  • Plan a flight test sortie to obtain flight test data most suited for system identification
  • Describe and categorise methods of system and parameter identification based on the desired mathematical model.

Supercritical Wing Design


    The aim of this module is to give the student an appreciation of the factors influencing supercritical flow development and the interaction with other aerofoil / wing design features. The aim is also to provide students with knowledge of industrial aircraft design practice / process and project management along with some practical experience.


    Aerofoil design aims and methodology, highlighting the influence of such factors as Mach number, lift coefficient, thickness/chord and thickness form, and the limits provided by viscous effects and Reynolds number.

    3D wing design, covering the role of sweep, taper, wing twist and dihedral, and the impact on wing aerodynamics of propulsion integration, fuselage interference and high lift (take-off and landing) requirements.

    Main features of the subcritical and supercritical CFD methods and how they are used as graphical interactive design tools. Particular importance is attached to interpretation of the results of the CFD calculation and how closely these relate to what would occur in the true aerofoil flow.

    The conceptual aircraft design process and project management practice.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  1. Describe the influence of factors effecting super critical aerofoil performance and apply this to knowledge to determine a design methodology.
  2. Understand the factors involved in the design of efficient transonic wings in the context of overall aircraft design and the other allied disciplines
  3. Use CFD methods to carry out supercritical wing design and evaluate results against performance criteria, including an appreciation of aircraft certification rules.
  4. Assess the limitations of CFD methods for prediction of aerofoil flow characteristics.
  5. Appreciate the process and management of conceptual aircraft design in industry, including the role of periodic design reviews and “gateway” decision points.

Teaching team

You will be taught by Cranfield's leading experts with many years' industrial experience. Teaching is supplemented by contributions from industry and other outside organisations which reinforce the applied nature of the modules. Previous contributors have included: Professor Allan Bocci, Aircraft Research Association (ARA) Trevor Birch, Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL). The Course Director for this programme is Dr James Whidborne.


The Aerospace Dynamics MSc is accredited by the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the requirements for further learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng). Candidates must hold a CEng accredited BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree to show that they have satisfied the educational base for CEng registration. Please note accreditation applies to the MSc award and PgCert does not meet in full the further learning requirements for registration as a Chartered Engineer.

Your career

Industry-driven research makes our graduates some of the most desirable in the world for recruitment in a wide range of career paths within the aerospace and military sector. A successful graduate should be able to integrate immediately into an industrial or research environment and make an immediate contribution to the group without further training. Increasingly, these skills are in demand in other areas including automotive, environmental, energy and medicine. Recent graduates have found positions in the aerospace, automotive and related sectors. 

Employers include:

  • Airbus,
  • BAE Systems,
  • Onera,
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR),
  • Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl),
  • QinetiQ,
  • Rolls-Royce plc,
  • Snecma,
  • Thales,
  • Selex ES,
  • MBDA,
  • Jaguar Land Rover,
  • Tata,
  • Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC),
  • Triumph Motorcycles.

A significant number of graduates go on to do research and higher degrees.

How to apply

Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at this time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

The AIRC working with other Cranfield facilities, including the runway, is unique. This is the only place where universities and companies can demonstrate, validate and research at the platform level, up to the higher technical readiness levels (6-7) more normally associated with business.

Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace