Aeronautical systems refer broadly to the systems within an air vehicle which are responsible for efficient and reliable operation. These include electrical, navigation, propulsion and hydraulic systems as well as flight controls.

The entire aircraft is controlled by systems, and challenges facing the industry include ensuring they not only meet airworthiness requirements but also the environmental and economical aspirations for more green and efficient aircraft. 

We have extensive modelling and simulation capabilities, using both industry-standard and in-house software, as well as world-class research facilities (including a hardware-in-the-loop test rig and a Boeing 747 flight simulator) that enable us to provide clients with a number of services to assist in the optimisation or design of aeronautical systems. 

Typical areas where we are able to apply our expertise include:

  • Flight Control Systems – flight control system and algorithm development, handling qualities, hardware development, prototyping design, hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) and flight testing.

  • Avionics and Aerospace Systems Simulation – cockpit design, synthetic environments, advanced surface movement, guidance and control (A-SMGCS) and human-machine interface evaluation.

  • Air Traffic Management – algorithm development for trajectory optimisation, 4D trajectory modelling and advanced display concepts.

  • Reconfigurable Systems – development of fault detection and isolation, fault diagnosis & prognosis algorithms, fault tolerant control, systems health management and open system architecture.

  • Communications and Aeronautical Networks – aeronautical data links, network and channel modelling, and optical communications.

  • Information and Data Systems – data acquisition, instrumentation and data analysis, and signal processing.

Our research partners include projects for the European Union, Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and DSTL.
Business clients we have worked with include Airbus, Boeing, Cassidian, Cosworth, Lockheed Martin, MBDA, Selex ES and Thales.

We are able to provide clients with a number of services to assist in the optimisation or design of aeronautical systems. We have extensive modelling and simulation capabilities, both using industry-standard and in-house software.

We are able to develop flight control systems hardware prototypes, carry-out hardware-in-the-loop testing, and develop advanced HMI concepts and displays. Our extensive expertise in algorithm development can be applied to a wide range of systems including navigation and flight controls.

We apply our expertise to both long-term conceptual projects and short-term projects with business critical deadlines. We can analyse, recommend or optimise solutions to meet client needs.

About our research

Our greatest strength is the ability to combine the academic rigour and long-term perspective of a university with the commercial and business focus of industry.

Our excellence in strategic and applied research has enabled us to make significant contributions to the world around us for over 60 years. We address real life challenges and focus on research that is of strategic and practical importance.

We provide a supportive research community for students and our academic work is regularly published in journal article, book or thesis form.

Our facilities

Our varied aerospace and aviation activities are underpinned by all the advanced facilities, tools and expertise you would expect to find, including capabilities unique to Cranfield - from our flight deck and cabin simulators to industrial-scale gas turbine engine test facilities used for performance and diagnostic studies. All our facilities are used for both measurement and validation of research, and demonstration of learning concepts in our teaching. 

Working with us

We are internationally renowned for working closely with industry. We partner with many leading businesses in this area to deliver innovative solutions to their real-life problems.

Our world-class academics have proven research records and are in constant touch with industry whether through education, delivery of short courses or providing consultancy.  

Our research benefits from the strong synergy that has been developed between the science, engineering and management disciplines ensuring that concepts and solutions can be employed by modern day business.