Contact Dr Craig Lawson

Areas of expertise

  • Aeronautical Systems
  • Aerospace Manufacturing
  • Aircraft Design
  • Autonomous Systems
  • Computing, Simulation & Modelling
  • Systems Engineering


Following the completion of a BEng (Hons.) in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Lawson came to Cranfield in 1999 to research a PhD in Gas Turbine Instrumentation. Craig has been involved in teaching aircraft design at Cranfield since 2003, and was awarded 'Cranfield Students' Association Best Lecturer (School of Engineering) 2013-14'.

Craig served as Chief Systems Engineer and Flight Trials Commander for the Demon UAV (FLAVIIR project 2007-2011 £5m). The Demon turbojet UAV was funded by BAE Systems and the UK EPSRC, and achieved a world-first by demonstrating controlled flight without the use of moving control surfaces. This was accomplished by using fluidic control devices utilizing the Coanda effect. Dr Lawson was given the BAE Systems Chairman's Bronze Award 2010 for supporting Total Performance Culture by transferring best practice to apprentices in the assembly of the Demon UAV. Craig was given the BAE Systems Chairman's Silver Award 2011 in Innovation for the Demon UAV Project.

Craig was Programme Manager (acting as co-PI) for Cranfield University's participation in the Clean Sky: Systems for Green Operation, Integrated Technology Demonstrator (2008-2015 work-share £1.2m). The research was centred on the development of the GATAC (Green Aircraft Trajectories with ATM Constraints) simulation environment. Deployment of this tool has included investigating the aircraft energy and trajectory implications of 'more electric' airframe systems, compared to conventional systems. Some results of this activity are included in a paper which was awarded the 2014 SAE Arch T. Colwell Merit Award.

Dr Lawson was a Co-Investigator on the Airbus and UK ATI funded Future of Aircraft Factory Project (2015-2017). This research advanced aircraft wing systems design for manufacturability, which is a key enabler to increase A320 production rates.

Craig was the Principal Investigator (~300k) on the EU Horizon2020 project on Future Aircraft Cabins for the Asian Market, led by Airbus (FUCAM 2016-2019 ~1.8m).

Dr Lawson was the Principal Investigator (£450k) on the UK ATI funded project UHBR Thermals, led by Meggitt (2017-2021 £3.8m). This research developed new schemes and modelling tools for integrated aircraft-engine thermal management for transport aircraft.

In 2021, Craig was an investigator on the ATI FlyZero project looking at both sustainable cabins and novel high lift devices.

Current activities

Dr Lawson is the Course Director for the MSc in Aircraft Engineering. He is a core and leading member of the Aerospace Vehicle Design MSc teaching team. Dr Lawson's current teaching responsibilities include lecturing Airframe Systems Design, and Aircraft Performance. Craig also leads the Airframe Systems Design activities in the AVD MSc Group Design Project. He also supervises design and research projects in the field of Aircraft Systems.

Current research topics:

Aircraft integration of advanced systems technologies, including more electric systems and novel flight controls

Airframe systems modelling for aircraft level operational optimisation

Airframe systems modelling to improve preliminary aircraft design processes

Airframe systems technologies for uninhabited air vehicles

Aircraft level thermal management and aircraft performance impact

Aircraft cabin systems

Supersonic transport aircraft design with noise assessment

Design of wing systems for assembly

Craig is a Co-Investigator and WP2 leader for the SENECA project (~5m 2021-2024), which is investigating noise in supersonic transport aircraft.

Dr Lawson is a Co-Investigator on the EPSRC funded project Decarbonising Transport through Electrification, a Whole System Approach (£916k EP/S032053/1 2019-2023). This research takes a high-level approach to look at integrated infrastructure for energy networks, land, sea and air transportation including electric and hybrid-electric aircraft.

Craig has published more than 60 research papers, including 30+ peer-reviewed journal papers. Craig has also published 2 book chapters and filed an EU/USA patent with Airbus.

Dr Lawson is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and serves as Honorary Secretary of the Cranfield Branch. He is also a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy.




BAE Systems










Articles In Journals

Conference Papers