This course has been designed to address the needs of employees in the MoD, the armed forces and the international defence industry. It provides practising engineers with the knowledge and skills to enable them to work more effectively in aerospace engineering, airworthiness, and safety.


  • Start dateSeptember and January
  • DurationMSc: up to three years part-time; PgDip: up to two years part-time; PgCert: up to two years part-time
  • DeliveryA mixture of lectures, laboratory demonstrations, tutorials, essays, examinations, individual and group design exercises and the students are expected to write written assignments. In addition, for MSc students a written dissertation research project and viva voce examination
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typePart-time
  • CampusCranfield campus, Cranfield University at Shrivenham

Who is it for?

The course draws students from the UK and Western Europe, giving an eclectic mix to the classroom environment. Maximum number of places: 25 per year.

The course structure allows students to continue in full-time employment whilst they are studying.

Why this course?

Today’s military aviation platforms are complex systems and it is essential, therefore, that they are deployed and maintained in such a way as to ensure their continued airworthiness and the safety of the crew operating them. Achieving this requires engineers to be cognisant of a broad range of aerospace engineering, airworthiness and safety disciplines.

The MSc distinguishes itself from similar courses offered by leading UK universities by offering one focused specifically on the military context, and offers unique subject areas unavailable elsewhere. You will be taught by staff, primarily from Cranfield Defence and Security and the School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing, many of them world leaders in their field. Visiting lecturers also include experts from industry, research establishments and the MoD.

Course details

The course is delivered on a part-time basis and contains five compulsory modules. Students choose one further module to complete the PgCert or a further seven modules to complete the PgDip (MSc taught phase).

This provides students with the flexibility to tailor their studies to account for prior educational and work experience and the current and future needs of their employment role. The modules taken in the taught phase of the MSc (the PgDip) provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to complete a research-based project, which forms the final part of the master's award.

Course delivery

A mixture of lectures, laboratory demonstrations, tutorials, essays, examinations, individual and group design exercises and the students are expected to write written assignments. In addition, for MSc students a written dissertation research project and viva voce examination

Individual project

The individual research project will focus on a topical subject area covered by the taught phase of the course. The subject of the project can be chosen to match the research needs of the sponsor and/or the interests of the individual student and students are encouraged to utilise their employment resources to place the project in context. Lecturing staff on both campuses will undertake supervision of research projects.


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.

Study Skills (non-assessed)


    To provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to research topics relating to the course and prepare written work for assessment.

    • IT, VLE and blackboard induction,
    • Overview of the course study requirements,
    • MSc Study Golden Thread – managing your time,
    • Library induction and referencing work,
    • Study skills and research methodology,
    • Critical reviewing,
    • Technical writing skills,
    • Introduction to the University’s thesis template,
    • How to discover quality information,
    • Maths Refresher for the MAA projects and coursework, revision and exam methods.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Use the library resources to research a topic relating to their course of study and review the information found critically,
  • Utilise appropriate study, technical writing, and referencing skills to produce a written piece of work in a standard format and in response to a set question,
  • Submit their work to the CDS VLE and interpret the Turnitin originality report,
  • Understanding the importance of revision methods, exam techniques, originality report, and the penalties resulting from proven misconduct and also appreciate the level of maths for the MAA modules and expected math content in their projects.

Airworthiness of Military Aircraft

    To provide an understanding of MOD airworthiness organisations, policies and procedures. The course explains the application of airworthiness to air systems and includes law, design, type and continuing airworthiness, integrity, gas turbine engines, avionics, software and human factors.
    • Aviation safety, airworthiness and flight safety - Aims and importance; individual and organisations responsible; relationship between airworthiness and aviation safety; organisations involved; how training and information are promulgated.
    • Air law, regulations and roles and responsibilities - Importance of recognised standards in airworthiness; sources of regulations and standards; application of regulations and standards; differences in military and civil philosophy; accountability and responsibilities of airworthiness roles.
    • Safety management systems  - Objectives of military airworthiness safety management systems and the implementation of safety management systems for military air systems.
    • Safety assessment - Procedures for safety analysis of military air systems; risk analysis and risk-based criteria.
    • Design and maintenance approvals - Rationale for competent design and maintenance organisation; composition and functions of a competent design and maintenance organisation; mechanism for qualification and approval of designs.
    • Type and Continuing airworthiness  - Explanation of Type airworthiness and Continuing airworthiness; importance of occurrence reporting, investigation, feedback and rectification action.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

  • Analyse the legal basis that underpins airworthiness regulation in aircraft design, operation and maintenance of military air systems,
  • Analyse the importance of airworthiness requirements for the design, production, operation and maintenance of military air systems,
  • Appraise the principles of airworthiness as applied to the process for certification of military air systems,
  • Assess the process for Type and Continuing airworthiness management for different types of military air systems.

Aviation Safety Management


    To provide you with the fundamental skills required to manage operational safety within the aviation industry.

    • The fundamentals of a Safety Management System, and introduction to associated guidance material provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and other State safety regulatory bodies,
    • Safety data, safety information and analyses; including reporting systems, investigation and Flight Data Monitoring (FDM),
    • Hazard identification and risk management, including an introduction to Enterprise Risk Management (ERM),
    • Safety performance and safety health; including guidance on audits and safety promotion,
    • Safety organisations, including guidance on effective management of safety teams.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the fundamental concepts behind Safety Management Systems (SMS), as defined by ICAO and other regulatory bodies,
  • Select and implement techniques for the identification, quantification and management of hazards and risks,
  • Critically assess strategies for developing and enhancing safety culture including the role of leadership, structure and reporting systems,
  • Identify techniques for measuring safety performance.

Safety Assessment of Aircraft Systems


    To familiarise you with the various approaches to the problems of assessing the safety of increasingly complex aircraft systems.

    • Introduction and Background - Outline of relevant accidents and system design philosophy. Discussion of acceptable accident rates and recent advances in systems. Introduction to probability methods.
    • Regulatory background - The development of requirements for safety assessment, FAR / EASA CS25-1309.
    • Methods and Techniques - Introduction to the more common safety analysis techniques. Influence of human factors. Common mode failures, traps and pitfalls of using safety assessment and examples of mechanical systems and power plants.
    • Use of safety assessment techniques - Determination of correct architecture of safety critical systems. Fault Tree Analysis, Dependence Diagrams and Boolean algebra for quantification of system reliability. Zonal safety analysis (ZSA), Particular Risk Analysis (PRA) and Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) of aircraft systems.
    • Practical examples of the application of safety assessment techniques - Minimum Equipment Lists (MEL), Safety and Certification of digital systems and safety critical software. Application of Aerospace Recommended Practice (ARP) 4761. Typical safety assessment for a stall warning and identification system.
    • Current and future issues - Integrated and modular systems and their certification. Certification maintenance requirements. Flight-deck ergonomics.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the regulatory background behind the Safety Assessment of Aircraft Systems,
  • Evaluate and apply the technique(s) which is most appropriate for the system under consideration,
  • Explain the theory behind each technique, including the strengths and weaknesses of each one, and be aware of possible pitfalls,
  • Appreciate the role of safety assessment in the overall context of aircraft certification,
  • Illustrate the issues to be faced for the certification of new systems and aircraft.

Fixed-Wing Aeromechanics


    To provide you with an understanding of the principles, concepts and analysis techniques of fixed-wing platforms.

    • Aerodynamics - Fundamental definitions; basic fluid dynamics; basic aerodynamics; the origins of lift; drag at subsonic flight speeds; compressible flow; transonic flight; supersonic flight; drag reduction in high-speed flight.
    • Aerostructures - History of aircraft structural design developments; fundamental aerospace stress and structural analysis methods; structural layout methods; structural loads,
    • Flight mechanics 1 - Performance: airspeeds; cruise performance; mass definitions; climbing and descending flight; manoeuvres; take-off and landing; energy-height concept,
    • Flight mechanics 2 - Trim, stability and control: longitudinal static stability; lateral/directional static stability; longitudinal dynamic stability; lateral dynamic stability; control methods,
    • Tutorials.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the fundamental concepts of fixed- wing aerodynamics and flight mechanics,
  • Estimate the loads on an aircraft and its structure,
  • Evaluate aspects of the performance, stability and control of subsonic and supersonic fixed-wing platforms.

Propulsion Systems


    To provide you with an understanding of the design and performance of aviation propulsion systems for fixed-wing, rotary-wing and UAV applications.

    • Gas turbine fundamentals Basic principles; thermodynamics; gas dynamics; dimensional analysis; ideal (Joule) gas turbine cycle,
    • Gas turbine components Fixed-wing intakes; rotary-wing intakes; centrifugal-flow compressors; axial-flow compressors; combustion chambers; axial-flow turbines; nozzles,
    • Aviation internal combustion engines Petrol engine (Carnot) cycle and applications, diesel engine cycle and application,
    • Applications Aircraft propulsion; turboshaft cycle; turbojet cycle; turbofan cycle; the engine running line. STOVL aircraft applications. IC engine applications.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Explain the principles of propulsion system design and operation,
  • Relate the design of propulsion system components to the overall system performance,
  • Evaluate the performance of various types of propulsion units fitted to modern classes of aircraft.

Military Aircraft Systems


    To provide you with an understanding of the fundamental concepts of military aircraft systems.

    • Actuation, Control surfaces and Data Transfer - Control linkage systems; trim and feel; power control units; advanced actuation concepts; example systems, control databases.
    • Aviation Fuels & Fuel Systems - Fuel quantity measurement; engine pressurization; engine feed; fuel transfer; refuel/defuel; vent systems; use of fuel as a heat sink; external fuel tanks; fuel jettison; in-flight refuelling; aircraft examples.
    • Landing gear design - Configurations; ground flotation; tyres; brakes; telescopic landing gears; lever suspensions; shock absorbers; retraction; steering.
    • Hydraulic/Pneumatic systems - Circuit design; actuation; hydraulic fluid pressure; temperature and flow rate; piping and pumps; fluid conditioning; emergency power sources; warnings and status; aircraft applications.
    • Electrical systems - AC and DC power generation principles; primary and secondary power distribution; power conversion and energy storage; electrical loads; emergency power generation; recent systems developments; control challenges and principles of electrical systems. Principles of Intelligent Power Management.
    • Pneumatic systems - Bleed air control and indicators; bleed air uses; wing and engine anti-icing; engine starting; thrust reversers; pitot-static systems.
    • Environmental control systems - The need for cockpit, cabin and avionics conditioning; refrigeration systems; humidity control; air distribution systems; cabin pressurisation; g-tolerance.
    • Emergency systems and De-Icing & Anti-Icing Systems - Fire detection and suppression; emergency power sources; ejector seats.
    • Cobra helicopter design exercise - Familiarisation with the Cobra helicopter aircraft sub-systems.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Identify the main military aircraft systems and explain their purposes and principles of operation,
  • Relate the sources of systems power and their architecture, generation and distribution and control methods,
  • Identify the major considerations to be made in the design of aircraft systems,
  • Analyse aircraft systems such as fuel and electrical requirements resulting from a given system’s presence on an aircraft by carrying out systematic calculations, simulations, design and analysis. Use the Tornado GR4 as learning tool together with the Cobra helicopter.

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

Air Transport Engineering - Maintenance Operations


    To provide you with the fundamentals of the disciplines associated with the management of aircraft maintenance and engineering.

    • Maintenance Programme Development – balancing of technical requirements and operational priorities; Maintenance Steering Group 3 process,
    • Optimisation of maintenance - Outsourcing/In House Maintenance; Application of Lean principles to Maintenance operations; Maintenance planning; Maintenance costs,
    • Human Factors in Aircraft Maintenance - Error types; Classification systems; Maintenance Error Management System; Maintenance Error Decision Aid (MEDA) & other resources,
    • Logistics and supply chain management,
    • Linkages between manufacturer, operator and maintenance organisation,
    • Continuing airworthiness management and Regulatory aspects (EASA Part M),
    • Health and usage monitoring, engine condition monitoring etc.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the principles of reliability with direct relation to aircraft availability,
  • Outline a maintenance management programme, including the interface with operations, supply chain and cost issues,
  • Critically appraise the various aircraft maintenance philosophies used for in-service aircraft,
  • Develop a process for achieving continuing airworthiness management with the appropriate regulatory approval.

Aircraft Accident Investigation and Response

    This course is based around a case study approach to aircraft accident investigation. You will have the opportunity to experience important elements of aircraft accident investigation from initial notification of an event through to generating and communicating investigative findings. You will be presented with a simulated accident scenario during which they will be exposed to all elements of the investigation such as evidence collection, interviewing, analysis and the generation of safety recommendations.
    • Accident investigation approaches and response,
    • On site appraisal and preservation of evidence,
    • Human factors in investigations,
    • Witnesses and interviewing,
    • Preparing and managing recommendations,
    • Communication of investigation findings.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the accident investigation process as applied to aviation,
  • Identify roles and responsibilities within the accident investigation process,
  • Critically assess analysis techniques used in accident investigation,
  • To develop interview skills and recognise the limitations of interview based data.

Please note the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Response module is subject to additional costs for travel and accommodation.

Aircraft Survivability


    The course will provide engineers with knowledge of the threat environment and vulnerabilities of aircraft systems, structures and payloads. It will then introduce the design strategies and technology used to counter such threats.

    • Introduction, anti-aircraft systems and survivability - An introduction to the aerial threat environment and the key responses to threats. This will include an overview of military threats and the key operational and technical challenges.
    • Threats to aerial systems: Missiles and smart munitions - An introduction to the threats posed by guided weapons including man portable air defence systems (MANPADS), ship and ground launched guided missiles, and radar- controlled guns.
    • Terminal ballistics - Introduction to terminal ballistics covering the key mechanisms of penetration and damage produced by high velocity projectiles including fragments and bullets.
    • Avoiding the threat: Stealth - Technology for the reduction of electromagnetic signature (radar thermal, etc.) including design and materials issues.
    • Sensors and threat detection - Sensor systems for threat detection and avoidance including enhanced situational awareness, battlefield id (IFF).
    • Defensive aids suites - Missile countermeasures; missile counter-countermeasures; missile approach warning systems; direct IR countermeasure systems (DIRCM).
    • Resisting the threat: Vulnerability assessment - Tools and techniques for assessment of aircraft vulnerability, including modelling analysis and optimisation processes.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the key threats to aerial platforms from hostile actions and the technologies or strategies, which may be used to counter them,
  • Evaluate the role of different approaches to enhancing airframe and crew survivability, including threat avoidance, defensive aids, physical protection and damage mitigation,
  • Evaluate the role of electromagnetic detectors and effectors in defensive aids suites,
  • Formulate and critically appraise a system of defence including a range of technologies designed to avoid, defeat or mitigate threats to aerial platforms.

Design Durability and Integrity of Composite Aircraft Structures


    The course seeks to provide engineers with knowledge of polymer composite properties and behaviour relevant to their in-service performance durability and maintenance in aircraft structures

    Basic principles
    Introduction to composite materials comparison of relevant mechanical and service properties to those of metals; manufacturing process and relation of process and constituents to service performance.

    Regulatory background

    Requirements for fatigue and damage tolerant design in civil and military aircraft as implemented for polymer composite structures. Requirements for rotorcraft and for large fixed wing aircraft.

    Structural analysis
    Brief summary of methods and techniques for stress analysis and aircraft design using polymer composite materials.

    Fatigue analysis
    In-plane fatigue and failure processes; stiffness and strength changes under fatigue loading; fatigue notch effects in polymer composite laminates; cycle counting techniques and variable amplitude loading in metallic and polymer composite materials; life assessment and calculation procedures for design against in-plane fatigue.

    Delamination crack growth and fracture mechanics
    Basic theory of linear elastic fracture mechanics; strain energy release rate; applications to delamination crack growth in polymer composite laminates; delamination crack growth testing under static and fatigue loading; laboratory testing to measure Mode I and Mode II interlaminar fracture toughness (GIC and GIIC); comparison with stress intensity approaches in metallic materials; calculation of delamination behaviour of small samples and of aircraft structures. Damage tolerance issues in composites.

    Service degradation processes
    Impact damage in polymer composite laminates
    Response of polymer composites to out-of-plane impact loading; laboratory testing, effects of velocity, mass and impacting body shape on damage produced; damage morphologies, barely visible impact damage (BVID) concepts; effects of laminate constituents on damage resistance; effects of in-plane loading on impact damage growth and laminate strength; compression and fatigue after impact; design against impact damage.

    Service environment issues
    Including response to temperature and humidity; bird strike; in- service damage detection in composite structures; repairs; operator experience with polymer composite aircraft structures. Structural test requirements to prove airworthiness.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Describe the properties and manufacture techniques of polymer composite materials, and of the basic approaches to design with them.
  2. Categorise the aircraft service degradation processes of polymer composite laminates involving fatigue, impact loading, temperature and humidity fluctuations.
  3. Evaluate the effect aircraft service degradation processes have on strength and durability of the composite.
  4. Formulate structural and coupon sample test requirements to demonstrate the adequacy of the static and fatigue strength and damage tolerance of a composite aircraft structure.
  5. Critically appraise the design principles and relate them to structural safety considerations in the appropriate regulatory context, for both new designs and in- service aircraft.

Fundamentals of Aircraft Engine Control

Module Leader
  • Professor Pericles Pilidis

    This course aims to give an introduction to aircraft engine control issues and systems. 

    • Compressor performance: The difficulty of compressing air; the overall compressor characteristic and various forms of graphical presentation. Running line and surge line. Performance limitations at low rotational speed and low airflow. Design for surge alleviation. The use of variable inlet guide vanes, variable stators, air bleed, multi-spooling 
    • Axial turbine performance: Physics of expanding gas flows and choking. Performance at maximum flow. Effect of changes in inlet temperature and pressure. The turbine overall performance characteristic and turbine efficiency
    • Gas turbine control: Needs and Implementation. The gas turbine is a very complex mechanism that has to operate within many constraints including aerodynamic, mechanical and handling issues. At the same time it also needs to be responsive and operate safely. An explanation will be given on these constraints and how different features such as variable stators, bleed valves and variable area nozzles can be used to implement safe and responsive engine handling. An explanation on component matching and the influence of each control feature on the operation of the engine. 
    • Introduction to fuel systems and fuel pumps: To include the role of the fuel system; fuel properties; typical fuel flows, temperatures, and pressures in the system, descriptions of low pressure first stage pump, high pressure second stage pumps; typical modern control systems.
    • Airframe Fuel Systems: Low Pressure Engine Fuel Systems. To include typical LP system architecture, fuel pump inlet pressure requirements, the concept of Net Positive Suction Pressure (NPSP), establishing the low pressure pump design points; low pressure first stage pump types; fundamentals of LP pump design.
    • High pressure engine fuel pumps: Difference between positive displacement and rotodynamic pumps, types of positive displacement pumps; selecting the optimum drive speed; sizing a positive displacement pump; the effect of leakage on pump size and heat rejection; mechanical design considerations; journal bearing design; pointing design and minimizing cavitation erosion damage.
    • Hydro-mechanical fuel metering: Brief history of fuel control architectures leading to FADEC systems; Functions required by modern FADEC based fuel controls; impact of reliability requirements on modern fuel control architecture; modern fuel control architecture; basic principles of fuel flow; fuel metering; electrical interface devices used on modern fuel controls; engine actuation; demonstration of modern fuel control hardware; fitness for purpose and future trends in fuel control.
    • Electronic engine control: To include circuit design, mechanical design and software.
    • Staged Combustion: To include Aircraft emissions, emissions legislation, controlling emissions, fuel control requirements, fuel control and control laws.
    • Fuel controls for ‘more/all’ electric engines: To include impact of the More/All electric engine on fuel control, positive displacement pump based systems, centrifugal pump based systems, and technical challenges.
    • Airworthiness considerations: European and USA regulatory requirements relevant to certification and substation of engine controls and fuel systems including their installation. Service history, occurrences and case studies.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the control needs of aircraft gas turbine engines
  • Outline operational issues associated with gas turbines used for propulsion in aircraft
  • Explain the principal problems associated with aircraft fuel systems
  • Undertake a reasonable assessment  of the engine control system design needed to minimise the likelihood of failure 
  • Relate the technology involved to the regulatory framework.

Guided Weapons

Module Leader
  • Dr Derek Bray

    The aim of this module is to: provide a general overview of guided weapon systems and technology; introduce students to the theoretical design of guided weapon subsystems; demonstrate how these subsystems form the overall guided weapon system.

    Indicative module content:

    missile and the system; constituent parts of the missile and how they integrate into the complete system; the threat and how it can be countered,
    airframe materials and structures; factors affecting aerodynamic lift and drag,
    polar, Cartesian and roll control; aerodynamic and thrust vector control; actuation systems; instrumentation; accelerometers; rate and position gyroscopes; acceleration and velocity control; roll rate and position, latex and altitude autopilots,
    principles of millimetric wave (mmW) seekers,
    principles of infra-red seeker technology,
    the need for guidance; types of trajectory; system characteristics and classification; command, homing and navigational guidance coverage diagrams,
    reaction to thrust, propellants, jet propulsion, rocket and air-breathing engines,
    principles of homing and surveillance radar,
    overview of warheads for guided weapons for attack of armour, airborne targets and ground installations; safety and arming; types of fuze, matching and countermeasures.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

describe the elements that make up a guided weapon system,
discuss the principles involved and the design constraints on guided weapon airframe, propulsion, warhead, control and guidance systems and how these subsystems interact with one another,
explain the principles of radar, IR and mmW technology and how these technologies are used in guided weapon systems,
develop a preliminary guided weapon design.

Introduction to Aircraft Structural Crashworthiness

    The aim of this module is to provide you with an understanding of the design of crashworthy aircraft structures and the considerations necessary when designing safe and crashworthy aircraft. The main purpose of crashworthy design is to eliminate injuries and fatalities in mild impacts and minimise them in severe but survivable impacts.
    • Overview of Aircraft Crashworthiness 
      - Objectives and Approach
      - Regulations
       - Human Tolerance
    • Crash Energy Management

    • Structural Collapse

       - Collapse of metallic and composite structural components
       - Component collapse vs. structural collapse

    • Introduction to methods for crash analysis

       - Hand calculations
       - Hybrid analysis methods
       - Detailed analysis methods
    • Role and capability of testing and simulation in the crashworthiness field
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Examine relevant crashworthiness regulations.
  • Analyse the key issues of structural crashworthiness.
  • Examine the collapse of thick and thin-walled sections.
  • Evaluate the global collapse of structures.
  • Critically evaluate the crashworthiness of structures.

Introduction to Human Factors


    To introduce Human Factors issues that affect Airworthiness, particularly in the military context. This will encompass both design and operational issues within a systems perspective, highlighting technical, organisational and psychological interdependencies.

    • Human Factors Methods, metrics and evaluation,
    • Social and Organisational HF: socio-technical systems, safety culture and accident/incident causation,
    • Cognitive psychology – the cognitive aspects of human factors in the design, management and operation of air systems,
    • Personnel and Training – Selection, skill acquisition and retention, training evaluation and effectiveness,
    • System Safety: Human Performance and Error,
    • Design of workstations and user interfaces,
    • Human Factors Physiology - anthropometric measurement, strength and fitness, health, sensory factors and the related design considerations.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Assess the use of human factors methods to develop and test design options or to explore the range of possible interventions relevant to the situation of interest,
  • Compare and contrast system designs and situations with regards to their human factors benefits and limitations,
  • Evaluate the relative impact of Human Factors issues within a systems context,
  • Apply Human Factors principles to the design, management and operation of aircraft socio-technical systems.

Military Avionics -STA Communications and Navigation

Module Leader
  • Professor Alessio Balleri

    To provide the students with an understanding of military sensor, communication and navigation avionic systems, the electronic threat to such systems and how they may be protected.

    • Military airborne radar: Introduction; comparison with other sensors; bands of operation; pulse ranging; low PRF pulsed parameters; detection theory; radar cross section; noise and clutter; pulse Doppler techniques; tracking radar; applications – Airborne FCR/AI, AEW, SAR/GMTI, altimeters
    • Airborne radar EW: Basic concepts; signal intercept; noise jammers; stealers; passive decoys (chaff); active decoys; EA against tracking radars; ED of tracking radars
    • Digital and satellite communications: Introduction to analogue voice communications for air-to-air and air-to-ground communications; frequency bands used, propagation, link budget calculations, types of military radio system in common use; introduction to digital communications on airborne platforms; modern military digital radio systems, e.g. Saturn, Havequick etc.; introduction to cryptography, platform-mounted-antennas at HF, VHF and UHF; introduction to satellite communications – basic concepts, Skynet IV and V, satellite communications to airborne platforms
    • Communications EW: Introduction to Communications EW; overview of methods of surveillance, attack and defence; examples of application of Comms EW in airborne systems
    • Airborne EO/IR sensors: EO/IR in context; basic optics; atmospheric propagation; signature and scene generation, thermal imagers
    • Laser: directed energy weapons and directed infrared countermeasures (DEW and DIRCM / LIRCM). Active laser sensing (LIDAR / LADAR)
    • Displays (head up/down, helmet): Generic types, head-up, head-down, helmet mounted
    • GPS - Principles of operation of GPS; errors; signal structure; EW vulnerabilities; modernisation programme
    • Inertial Navigation: Inertial Sensors – accelerometers, angle and rate gyroscopes; inertial navigation – principles of stable platform and strapdown INS; co-ordinate systems- local level (LLIN) and space stable (SSIN) systems; inertial, earth and geodetic based coordinate bases; GPS/INS integration
    • Terrain based navigation: Introduction. the need for terrain based systems; methods TerCoM (Terrain Contour Matching), DSMAC (Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation), TCM (Terrain Characteristic Matching).
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the operation of avionic communications, radar and electro-optic sensors and displays and navigation systems, relating the performance of such systems to design characteristics and parameters and to the environment
  • Identify the main electronic support and attack threats to airborne radar and electro-optic sensors and communication systems and propose defence measures to counter these threats
  • Analyse and evaluate the effect of an electronic attack on an avionics system (communications, radar and electro-optic sensors) and quantify the impact of electronic defence.

Practical Reliability

Module Leader
  • Dr Simon Place

    To familiarise course members with the reliability analysis of data from tests and service records, and methods of evaluating system reliability as part of design.

    Indicative module content:

    • outline of the various means of performing the reliability analysis of components and systems,
    • requirements for safety and reliability analysis as part of regulatory approval process,
    • analysis of failure data;
    o negative exponential and Weibull probability distributions,
    o data analysis and ranking methods,
    o confidence intervals,
    o log-normal distributions,
    • systems;
    conventional representation
    o series-parallel methods,
    o decomposition techniques,
    o path and cut sets,
    o reliability of maintained systems,
    o failure mode effect and criticality analysis,
    fault tree analysis,
    Markov methods,
    • applications: 
    o reliability prediction during project design and development, 
    in-service reliability and service policy development,
    o in-service modification evaluation.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

understand and illustrate the concepts of reliability analysis,
distinguish between the different methods for analysing the reliability of components and systems,
use the most appropriate analysis technique when presented with failure data based on component and/or system in-service information,
outline a quantitative and qualitative analysis of different component and system designs.

Rotary-Wing Aeromechanics


    To provide students with an understanding of the principles, concepts and analysis techniques of rotary-wing (RW) platforms.

    • Introduction: RW a/c definitions; configurations and layout
    • Rotor axial flight performance: Rotor definitions. Thrust, induced velocity, induced power, profile and climb power in axial flight. Flow states in axial flight. Effects of blade geometry. Rotor coefficients. Disc loading and blade loading. Rotor figure of merit. Ground effect. Vertical autorotation
    • Rotor control: Collective and cyclic controls. Feathering, flapping and lagging; fully articulated, hingeless, elastomeric and bearingless rotors; teetering rotors. Swash plate and spider. Rotor RPM control. Rotor moments
    • Rotor forward flight: Thrust, induced velocity, induced power and profile power in forward flight. Blade cyclic variation of speed and incidence. Flap back. Rotor limitations due to compressibility and stall and the effect on aircraft performance. Dynamic stall effects. Tip modifications, ABC, compounding, etc.
    • Rotary wing aircraft performance: Parasite power. Minimum power and minimum drag speeds. Maximum speed. Range and endurance. Take-off and climb. Forward flight descent and autorotation. Hover ceiling IGE and OGE
    • RW aircraft trim, stability and control: Control at the hover and in forward flight. Effect of rotor head design. Rotor stability with respect to incidence and speed. Rotor lag. A/c longitudinal, lateral and directional static and dynamic stability at the hover and in forward flight. Manoeuvrability and agility
    • Cross-couplings and vibrations: Examples of cross-coupling effects. Ground resonance. Introduction to helicopter vibration. Vibration absorbers. ACSR
    • Transmissions: Transmission layouts for single and multi-rotor helicopters; gearboxes and gear design for rotorcraft
    • Tutorials
    • Practical demonstrations
    • Case study.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the aerodynamic principles of RW flight
  • Estimate RW component power requirements
  • Evaluate aspects of the performance of a RW platform.

Aircraft Fatigue and Damage Tolerance


    To familiarise students with fatigue and damage tolerance analysis techniques and their application to aircraft structural design by instruction, investigation and example.


    BASIC PRINCIPLES: Introduction to Fatigue Design Philosophies. Outline of the fatigue failure process; Approaches to design against fatigue; safe-life, failsafe, and damage tolerance; Fatigue life calculation requirements

    • Regulatory background: Requirements for fatigue and damage tolerant design for civil & military aircraft; Chronology of accidents in relation to aircraft design approach; Evolution of requirements; Focus on Large Aeroplanes and Rotorcraft
    • Fatigue Analysis: S-N curve approach: the traditional fatigue analysis approach; ε-N curve approach for low cycle fatigue; mean stress effect; Palmgren-Miner’s cumulative damage model. Crack Initiation Life Prediction: Notch effect; Neuber’s approach; calculation of crack initiation life at notch root and fastener holes; Worked examples of techniques. Aircraft fatigue loading spectrum: atmospheric turbulence, manoeuvre, landing and ground loads; determination of cumulative frequency load distribution. Cycle counting methods
    • Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics: Basic theory of Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics; crack tip stress intensity factor; strain energy release rate; fracture toughness; R-curve; fracture criterion; plane stress and plane strain conditions; plastic zone at crack tip; calculation of residual strength. Crack growth under cyclic loading; crack closure effect; overload retardation effect; load sequence effects; predicting crack growth life; Worked examples. Computer tools for life assessment – workshop session using the AFGROW package for crack growth prediction. Residual strength calculation of stiffened panels. Short crack growth and the limitations of fracture mechanics. Material selection. Role of strength level and toughness; effect of corrosion on fatigue; Comparison of response behaviour of Composites and Metals to cyclic loading.


    • Inspection considerations: Methods to establish thresholds; Requirements for NDT capability; Probability of detection versus crack length. Fatigue & fracture analysis of commuter aircraft structures. Review of round robin exercise applying analysis techniques to actual aircraft structural components
    • Ageing aircraft structures: Multiple-site damage phenomenon; Effect of ageing; Effect of MSD on lead crack residual strength; Equivalent initial quality flaw size; Real examples demonstrated on several aircraft types; Onset of widespread fatigue damage; Inspection frequency for each Principle Structural Element; Limit of Validity, Current regulatory approach for in-service aircraft.
    • Repair to damage tolerant aircraft: Techniques for the design of damage tolerant repairs; Examples of in-service repairs and regulatory lessons learned; Use of cold expansion for life enhancement.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module a student will be able to:

  • Explain the concepts of fatigue design and analysis methods
  • Describe damage tolerant design and the application of fracture mechanics to aircraft structures
  • Undertake fatigue analysis, residual strength and crack growth calculation for basic structural configurations
  • Relate the design principles involved to structural safety considerations in the appropriate regulatory context, both for new designs and in service aircraft.

Human Factors in Aircraft Maintenance


    The aim is to provide a broad overview of the nature and management of human error in the aviation maintenance domain.

    • The nature of the maintenance environment: This includes both civil and military environments
    • Maintenance management: Organisation, line and base maintenance, planning, maintenance control, error management systems, shift handover, blame cycle, communication in the workplace, workplace environment, work/job design. Regulatory framework: Legal requirements. EASA/Part 145 Maintenance Human factors
    • Designing for human factors: What can be done by the designer to reduce and mitigate human error. Design philosophies and human-centred design
    • Human error management in maintenance: The benefits and challenges associated with the use and application of reporting systems and safety tools.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the regulatory background and the environment within which aviation maintenance takes place Describe the regulatory background and the environment within which aviation maintenance takes place
  • Evaluate current methods for maintenance error management (reactive, proactive and predictive)
  • Appraise the links between aircraft maintenance and safety
  • Analyse ways in which maintenance errors can be reduced at the design stage.

Uninhabited Aircraft Systems / Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems

Module Leader
  • Professor John Economou

    This module focuses on the up-to-date UAV systems level technologies and Artificial Intelligence based methods for mission planning and energy-based range extenders, autopilots. Furthermore, the course covers the connectivities of airworthiness and Cyber Threat in the modern airspace. The aim is to provide you with the understanding of the fundamental concepts and challenges of UAS/RPAS with a Military Airworthiness perspective including a group interactive activity involving VR UAS flight experience.


    Overview of UAS and Military Airworthiness

    UAV/RPAS passive hard subsystems.

    • UAV/RPAS materials,
    • UAV/RPAS structures,
    • UAV/RPAS battery and Artificial Intelligence (AI a hard/soft approach),
    • Rotary wing vehicles and micro-UAVs.

    UAV/RPAS Active Hard Subsystems

    • UAV/RPAS communications,
    • UAV/RPAS sensing using electro-optics & Infrared,
    • UAV/RPAS radar signatures,
    • UAS/RPAS design and analysis methods.

    UAS/RPAS Soft methods

    • Introduction to design and analysis of trials and experiments for UAVs/RPAS,
    • Artificial intelligence for UAVs/RPAS,
    • Automatic decision making for UAVs/RPAS,
    • UAV/RPAS sense and avoid.

    UAS/RPAS Design and Analysis Methods

    • Principles of UAV/RPAS aero, prop & flight performance,
    • Aspects of stealth,
    • Stability and control.

    UAS/RPAS AI Design Design Based Guidance

    • UAV/RPAS sustainable airworthiness – cyber threat,
    • UAV/RPAS localisation based on imaging,
    • UAV/RPAS energy-based planning guidance artificial intelligence based,
    • UAV/RPAS Autopilots for guidance,
    • UAV/RPAS guidance.

    UAS/RPAS applications and Airworthiness - Test cases

    • Applications - artificial sniffing UAV/RPAS for illicit substances,
    • UAV/RPAS defence electronics,
    • UAV/RPAS airworthiness,
    • VR group interactive UAS/RPAS flight experience.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the overview of UAS/RPAS and Military Airworthiness,
  • Describe the principles of UAV/RPAS passive and active hard subsystems and UAS/RPAS soft methods,
  • Estimate flight range of UAS/RPAS based on design and analysis methods,
  • Evaluate aspects of UAS/RPAS AI design-based guidance within the context of airworthiness and applications and defence electronics.


The MSc of this course has been accredited by the Royal Aeronautical Society under licence from the UK regulator, the Engineering Council.

Accreditation is a mark of assurance that the degree meets the standards set by the Engineering Council in the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC)  An accredited degree will provide you with some or all of the underpinning knowledge, understanding and skills for eventual registration as an Incorporated (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng). Some employers recruit preferentially from accredited degrees, and an accredited degree is likely to be recognised by other countries that are signatories to international accords.

Engineering Council accredited degree

Your career

The course creates opportunities to develop your career at a more senior level and in achieving Incorporated or Chartered Engineer status.

Cranfield Careers and Employability Service

Cranfield’s Career Service is dedicated to helping you meet your career aspirations. You will have access to career coaching and advice, CV development, interview practice, access to hundreds of available jobs via our Symplicity platform and opportunities to meet recruiting employers at our careers fairs. Our strong reputation and links with potential employers provide you with outstanding opportunities to secure interesting jobs and develop successful careers. Support continues after graduation and as a Cranfield alumnus, you have free life-long access to a range of career resources to help you continue your education and enhance your career.

How to apply

Click on the ‘Apply Now’ button to start your online application.

See our Application guide for information on our application process and entry requirements.