AEROSPACE FLIGHT MECHANICS
Flight mechanics is a subject dealing with the vehicle performance, its stability and
control. Performance is defined by a large set of parameters and flight envelope
curves. Stability and control deal with the vehicle’s response to static and dynamic
changes of attitude. Books on this subject either focus on the first aspect
or the second.
The art and science of flying an airplane owes much to stability and control. Sturdy
structures and powerful power plants are simply not enough. Badly located centers
of gravity (CG) may bring airplanes down.
When this feature [stability and control] has been worked out, the age of flying
machines will have arrived, for all other difficulties are of minor importance.
[The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Vol I, McGrawHill, 1953]
This course deals mostly with performances of the fixed-wing
aircraft in the atmosphere, but some stability issues will be treated as well. The
second part of the course deals with orbital flight (satellites and other
- Level: 1
- Credit rating: 10
- Pre-requisites: None
- Teaching Arrangements: 22 hours lectures, 6 hours tutorials, 1 laboratory
- Degrees: Aerospace Engineering (BEng, MEng)
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- Understand the role of the primary aircraft components and systems
- Understand basic aerodynamic and atmospheric flight mechanics principles
- Be able to calculate the level flight performance of a range of aircraft types
- Be able to assess performance in climbing and turning flight
- Be able to calculate simple satellite orbits
- Be able to run a flight simulator
- Calculate the level and gliding and climbing flight of powered aircraft
- Utilise the required terminology to describe the basic components of a rocket and satellite
- Understand the physical principles governing a rocket, subsequently derive the Rocket Equation
- Qualitatively and quantitatively describe the possible orbits a satellite can have about the Earth and to calculate how to transfer a satellite from one orbit to another.
Part I (with Dr A. Filippone)
Part II (with Dr. A. Revell)
- Introduction to Atmospheric Flight Mechanics
- The International Standard Atmosphere
- Airplane components, systems and subsystems (VSTOL, military vehicles, flight controls, engine installations, landing gear)
- Basics of Aerodynamics (reference systems, forces and moments on aircraft, airfoils, wing characteristics, lift and drag)
- Aeronautic Flight Envelopes (stalling speeds, service ceiling, maximum speed, true air speed, equivalent air speed, calibrated air speed)
- Level flight, Gliding and Climbing
- Aerospace Propulsion Systems (gas turbines, turboprops and other powerplants)
- Measurement of Flight Performances and Navigation Aids (air speed, altitude, temperature; air data computers, gyroscopes)
- Learning from Engineering Disasters
- Crashes created by landing gear failure
- Wind screen failure
- Space Shuttle
- Introduction to satellite orbit theory and rockets
- Rockets: terminology, basic components and launch profile of a rocket; case studies: Space Shuttle and the Ariane 5 rocket
- current technological challenges and possible future technology; derivation of Rocket Equation with and without external forces; single stage and multistage rockets; specific impulse; escape velocity.
- Satellites: terminology, basic components, orbits
- Case studies
- telecommunication, military and science satellites
- Keplerian orbits and their orbital parameters
- Hohmann transfer analysis.
One homework will be assigned 4 weeks into the course (week 4). Students
are required to solve problems and report the solution within the time
- Eshelby, ME. Aircraft Performance – Theory and Practice, Arnold Publ, London, 2000.
- Philpott, B. Aircraft Flight, Longman Scientific, 1999.
- Chobotov VA (editor). Orbital Mechanics, Washington, DC, AIAA education
- Additional Literature for the enthusiasts
Handouts will be distributed during the lectures. None of the lecture notes will be
made available on the internet. No tutorial sheets will be available. Students are
required to attend the tutorials and work out the problems assigned.
- 2 hour closed-books exam at end of semester, 70 %
- Course work, laboratory work and set problems, 15 %
- Mid Term Quiz, 15 %
- Date and place of the exam is set by the UG office
during the semester.
- Attending lectures is strongly recommended and will be strictly monitored.
- Class attendance will reflect upon your final grade.
Course Work Policy
- All laboratory and course work is to be submitted within
2 weeks from the date of the experiment or assignement
- Course work submitted after deadline will not be marked.
- Extension of the deadline can be granted, but only on a case-by-case basis
- Reports cannot be submitted via email or fax
How Much Should you Study ?
For every hour of lecture you are expected to
- have two hours of study, or
- one hour of tutorial and one hour of study
NB: You are encouraged to solve standard problems, for example past examination papers,
that are available from the undergraduate offices.
- The instructor will be available to answer students questions after each lecture or tutorial.
- The instructor is available for questions in his office on Mondays and Thursdays at
17:00-18:00, or via e-mail at any time.
Rules of Conduct in the Class Room
- Mobile telephones are to be switched off at all times.
- Students are expected to be punctual and lectures to start on time.
- The instructor expects silence from the students. Background noise will
not be tolerated.
- Horseplay and willful misconduct have no place in the class room.
- No Smoking, No Drinking, No Eating.
Ethical standards are needed to avoid cases of plagiarism and
cheating. These include (but are not limited to): attempts to submit
laboratory reports and course work without attending
experiments/lectures; submitting the work done by another person;
failure to give credit for ideas; copying from books; photocopying
books and publications covered by Copyright. Assisting other persons
to cheat is also considered an offense, and may be subject to
disciplinary procedures. Acts of plagiarism are reported to the
undergraduate office and to the examiners. Please refer to the
students handbook for further details.