This new course is offered subject to final University approval. For initial enquiries please contact the Course Director Dr Ip-Shing Fan.

Increasingly more intelligent aircraft are being introduced and point to the future of electric and hydrogen powered aircraft, autonomous flying taxis and space commercialisation. As more intelligent and conscious aircraft enters service, aircraft and support systems are also becoming more intelligent.

This MSc programme aims to develop professionals to innovate and apply digital technology in the aerospace industry. The course adds the digital component to aeronautical engineering graduates. It helps them to expand from the design and manufacture foci of established aeronautical engineering programmes to the wider aviation industry opportunities. The course is also a route for the large number of non-aerospace engineering and computing graduates who aspire to enter the aviation industry. In addition, the course is a career development path for aerospace industry professionals to boost their digital and innovation skills.


  • Start dateOctober
  • DurationFull-time one year; part-time up to three years; PgCert 1 year; PgDip 2 years.
  • DeliveryTaught modules 40%, group project 20% (or dissertation for part-time students), individual project 40%
  • QualificationMSc
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

This course is applicable to a broad range of applicants with backgrounds from aerospace, engineering, maths, physics and computing to experienced professionals looking to gain new skills in the area of digital aviation technology.

Why this course?

New and emerging generations of connected aircraft like the neo and MAX are entering service at pace. Aviation digitalisation spans the aircraft, airline, airport, airspace, MRO, ground operations and the wider ecosystem. New skills in Internet of Things, robotics, AI, machine learning, AR/VR, big data analytics, predictive maintenance, blockchain, etc are sought by the industry. While the digital technology is similar to other industrial sectors, the safety conscious and highly regulated aviation industry imposes technology adoption hurdles specific to the aerospace regulatory and culture.

The Aviation Digital Technology Management MSc is designed to equip you with the skills required to pursue a successful career in transforming the aviation industry, applying the knowledge learned to introduce new digital technologies to improve the industry as a whole. Cranfield  has:

  • Unique Cranfield Global Research Airport learning environment.
  • World leading research centres - Cranfield UniversityIntegrated Vehicle Health Management Centre (IVHM) has been leading research in the predictive health maintenance with technology adopted by major aircraft manufacturers.
  • Digital MRO and Hangar laboratories together with the Cranfield Boeing 737-400 ground demonstrator are part of our Digital Aviation Technology Centre.
  • HILDA Digital High Performance Computing Ecosystem with up to 10.5 PetaFlops processing power, 2.5 PB storage and 200GBits/s network.
  • Work with industrial standard aviation IT systems.

Practical research projects make up 60% of the study. The Group Design Project (GDP) develops the students’ professional practice to work as part of a team, plan and management project, and communicate ideas and results. The GDP design, implement, validate and test an aspect of digital aviation, applying the knowledge acquired in the taught modules and integrate the various methods learnt.

The Individual Research Projects (IRPs) allow the students to specialise on a digital aviation topic relevant to their career development. The real-world relevance of the research project topics is an effective differentiator in the job market.

Informed by industry

The MSc course content has been based on advice from the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB), comprising leaders from Boeing, Etihad, easyJet, Marshall Aerospace and others across the aviation sector.

Course details

The MSc course consists of three weighted components, taught modules, and individual research project, and a group project. The taught course element includes eight taught compulsory modules, generally delivered from October to March.

The taught part of the course is followed by a Group Design Project (GDP) and individual research projects (IRPs). The GDP enables students to work as part of a team, develop project planning and management skills, and communications abilities, to design, implement, validate and test an advanced air mobility system component, applying the knowledge acquired in the taught modules and integrate the various methods learned.

Students are also supported in their learning and personal development through participation in: industry seminars, group poster sessions, group discussions, group presentations, video demonstrations, case studies, laboratory experiments, coursework, and project work. Students will receive hands-on experience accessing equipment and facilities within our Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre  and Aerospace Integration Research Centre.

Course delivery

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

Group project

The group design project is a full time challenge to tackle a real industrial problem within a fixed 12 week timescale. The group of 4 to 8 students are expected to professionally deliver working results to the sponsor at the end of the project. This learn-by-doing approach integrates the knowledge students gained in the taught modules. The collaborative experience prepares students to work in teams with members having diverse backgrounds and expertise, project management and technical presentations.

Part-time students are encouraged to participate in a group project as it provides a wealth of learning opportunities. However, an option of an individual dissertation is available if agreed with the Course Director.

Example projects include:

  • Robotic inspection to support aircraft maintenance.
  • Fusion of location and camera sensing to support maintenance personnel electronic sign-offs.
  • Autonomous collision avoidance in aircraft maintenance hangar.
  • Multi-person AR/wearable supported aircraft maintenance.

Individual project

The Individual Research Project is the capstone project to prepare students for their chosen career. This is a structured programme for the student to demonstrate his/her ability to conduct original investigations, to test ideas and to obtain appropriate conclusions from the work. Our industry partners sponsor and support practical projects that meet their business needs. Research focus projects could be agreed for students seeking academic career. For part-time students it is common that their research thesis is undertaken in collaboration with their place of work.

Example projects include:

  • Monitoring robotic vehicle movements using precision location system.
  • Aircraft damage detection using hangar surveillance cameras.
  • Lean operations in the hangar of the future.
  • Parked Aircraft Maintenance Programme.
  • UAV Operations and Maintenance Management System.


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.

Aviation Digitalisation

Data-centric Aircraft Systems

Digital Aviation Operations and Maintenance Management

Digital Engineering

Predictive Maintenance Technology

Aerospace Inspection and Monitoring Tools

Digital Aviation Supply Chain Management

Communications and Cybersecurity in Aviation

Teaching team

You will be taught by Cranfield's experienced academic staff. Our staff are practitioners as well as tutors. Knowledge gained working with our clients is continually fed back into the teaching programme, to ensure provision of durable and transferrable skills practised on problems relevant to industry. Additionally, experienced members of the Industrial Advisory Board deliver industrial seminars in which they share their experience and explain the research and development proprieties of their companies. The Course Director for this programme is Dr Ip-Shing Fan.

Cranfield’s new MSc in Aviation Digital Technology Management will provide industry with the skills needed to develop integrated digital systems capability to support aircraft operations.

Not only is this key for MRO’s and airlines but also for the growing number of technology companies that provide ERP solutions for aircraft operations. Lots of good solutions exist within airlines and MRO’s that address elements of operations (traffic, movements, status, procurement, maintenance management, quality, safety etc.) but the future opportunity is integrated solutions at the industry level. This MSc will help develop people who understand the ecosystem of aviation operations and the systems requirements needed to create innovative solutions for the future. 

I think DARTeC is hugely exciting for Cranfield. Aerospace is absolutely at the heart of what we do as an institution and DARTeC brings together the many different disciplines across the university. This is a really strong example of where all the university's strengths converge to solve one of society's challenges.

Your career

Industry-led education makes Cranfield graduates some of the most desirable all over the world for recruitment by both global primes to smaller innovative start-ups looking for the brightest talent. Graduates of the course should find engineering and management opportunities in the aviation ecosystem, including operators, maintenance organisations, financiers, airports and future spaceport operators.

Graduates  will be equipped with the advanced skills which could be applied to the aviation, air traffic, air transport, security, defence, and aerospace industries. This approach offers you a wide range of career choices in current and emerging roles. Others decide to continue their education through PhD studies available within Cranfield University or elsewhere.

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.