Cranfield University has been at the forefront of rotorcraft research for the last 13 years, having an established track record on rotorcraft modelling, performance, and propulsion integration. This PhD studentship is within the Propulsion Engineering Centre at Cranfield University, in the field of helicopter-engine propulsion integration.

The work will aim to develop and apply design capability which can assist with the prediction of installed engine performance characteristics throughout the rotorcraft design and service-life.The research will be sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Defence and Science Laboratory (DSTL) in the UK.

Rotorcraft powerplant installation losses have a detrimental effect on operational performance, yet relatively little research effort has been focussed towards improved understanding of the source of losses or how they might be minimised. Losses depend on several complex and inter-dependent design characteristics which have, until recently, been difficult to evaluate computationally as a matter of routine. Accurate prediction of installed rotorcraft engine performance consists of several challenges. Intake and exhaust flows can be affected by the impinging vortical rotor wake and viscous fuselage flows. This can results in non-uniform inlet conditions at the engine intake, as well as suppression effects to the exhaust flow. Therefore, it is essential that the aerodynamic interaction between the rotor, engine, and fuselage are thoroughly accounted for in the prediction of installed engine performance.

This PhD project aims to deliver modelling capability for the prediction of installed engine performance characteristics, throughout the design and service-life of rotorcraft. This will be accomplished with the development of a novel approach able to predict the aerodynamic performance of installed rotorcraft engines rapidly. This framework will encompass a novel method for the parametric geometry definition of rotorcraft engine components such as intakes, ducts, and exhausts. The devised method will coupled with state-of-the-art tools for helicopter comprehensive analysis, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), data analytics, reduced-order modelling, and Multi-Objective Optimisation (MOO).

This PhD work will be sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Defence and Science Laboratory (DSTL) in the UK. DSTL is an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) providing world-class expertise and delivering cutting-edge science and technology.

It is expected that the derived modelling approach will enhance DSTL’s predictive capability in terms of installed rotorcraft-engine performance characteristics during the stages of preliminary design and service life.

This PhD opportunity includes funding for the successful applicant to present their work in national and international conferences. The successful applicant will also be invited for at least one 3-month placement at DSTL to work alongside propulsion, aerodynamics and rotorcraft performance specialists at the Portsdown West site.

The successful applicant will gain an in-depth understanding of rotorcraft aerodynamics, propulsion integration, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), and installation aerodynamics. The student will also gain an understanding of contemporary methods for numerical analysis, data analytics, reduced-order modelling, and Multi-Objective Optimisation (MOO). Furthermore, the applicants will gain a unique and in-depth understanding of the field as well as a transferable skill-set, which will prepare them for a successful career in industry or academia.

At a glance

  • Application deadline03 May 2023
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date05 Jun 2023
  • Duration of award4 years (iCASE Award)
  • EligibilityUK
  • Reference numberSATM352

Entry requirements

Start date: ASAP

Applicants must have a first-class or upper second-class degree in engineering or a related area. An aerospace background would be a distinct advantage, as would experience on aerodynamics and numerical modelling.


To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK national only. Eligibility is also subject to person clearance by DSTL.

About the sponsor

Sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Defence and Science Laboratory (DSTL), this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £15,285 (tax-free) plus fees* for four years.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact: 
If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.