Contact Professor Nicholas Lawson

Areas of expertise

  • Aircraft Design
  • Flight Physics
  • Instrumentation, Sensors and Measurement Science


    Professor Nicholas Lawson holds a Chair in Aerodynamics and Airborne Measurement and has previously led the National Flying Laboratory Centre. He is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a member of the Society of Flight Test Engineers.

    Professor Lawson joined Cranfield University as a Senior Lecturer in October 2003. Prior to this he worked at our Shrivenham location for four years lecturing in aerodynamics, thermofluids, missile and aircraft propulsion at the Defence Academy after completing a 4 year post-doctoral position at the University of Melbourne, Australia. His PhD was completed at Loughborough University with Rolls Royce plc.

    Professor Lawson has extensive experience in the development and application of particle image velocimetry (PIV) and laser Doppler anemometry (LDA) to high speed, large scale, non-Newtonian and multi-phase flows. Past applications have involved work for Rolls-Royce plc, BAR F1, Jaguar Racing and MBDA. His current research focus is on the application and development of advanced instrumentation for aircraft and airborne research, where the application of fibre optic sensors in-flight is a key focus of his work. Partners in this work have included DLR, NLR, ONERA, Airbus UK and Airbus Helicopters UK.

    He holds a commercial pilots licence with MEP IR and instructor ratings, a Jetstream 31/32 type rating and is one of the pilots flying for the National Flying Laboratory Centre. He is also one of the demonstrators lecturing and instructing students on flight dynamics short courses in the Jetstream 31 flying laboratory.

Current activities

  • Teaching - Fundamentals of Aerodynamics, Transonic Flow Aerodynamics, Experimental Aerodynamics, Application of CFD to Aerodynamics and Aircraft Design, Principles of Flight and Flight Operations

  • Research - Flight Test Optical Instrumentation Methods, Full Aircraft Computational Fluid Dynamics Modelling, Applied Wind Tunnel Aerodynamics

  • Flying - Jetstream 31 Flying Laboratory, Bulldog and Slingsby Firefly Instruction.

  • Other - Deputy Accountable Manager EASA Ops, High Performance Computing Advisory Group

  • External - Member of the European Facility for Airborne Research (EuFAR) RAO&CG Working Group

  •  Prizes - Queens Anniversary Prize winner Feb 2020 (


  • DLR
  • Airbus UK
  • BAR
  • Jaguar Racing
  • MBDA
  • Rolls Royce plc
  • TotalSim Ltd


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers


  • Boden F, Lawson N, Jentink HW (eds), (2013) Advanced In-Flight Measurement Techniques, Berlin Heidelberg: Springer, ed. 1.
  • Politz C & Lawson NJ (2013) Chapter 9 - Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). In: AIM2 Advanced Flight Testing Workshop - Handbook of Advanced In-Flight Measurement Techniques. Boden F (ed.), Books on Demand, Norderstedt, p. 101-110.
  • Lawson NJ (2010) External Transonic Flows. In: Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering. R Blockley, W Shyy (ed.), Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, p. 299-308, ed. First.