31203 - Aircraft Aerodynamics

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Decent work and economic growth Industry, innovation and infrastructure Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, by applying acquired in the courses of basic physics and fluid mechanics, the student will be able to describe the main physical mechanisms underlying the generation of lift and drag on the aircraft or on its individual components, to carry out numerically, where this is possible, an initial estimate of these force components and to develop control strategies.

Course contents


1. FUNDAMENTALS OF FLUID DYNAMICS Characterization of fluids and their motion – The fluid particle and its properties – Fundamentals of kinematics - The equations of motion – Potential flow - Origin and dynamic of vorticity - The boundary layer - Transition and turbulence - Separation of the boundary layer – The wake – Definition of aerodynamic and bluff bodies

2. WING PROFILES General statements - Geometry and classification of wing profiles – Mechanism for lift generation - Pressure distributions on airfoils and their performances - High angle of attack aerodynamics for wing profiles - Numerical estimation of lift on wing profiles - Potential theory – The flow around the circular cylinder - Conformal mapping - Thin airfoils theory - Surface Panel methods for airfoils - Numerical estimation of drag on wing profiles - Friction drag - Flat plate at zero angle of attack - Integral methods - Form drag – Elements of bluff bodies aerodynamics – Energy interpretation of drag - The drag of a cylinder at different Reynolds numbers – Control of lift and drag in airfoils - High lift devices - Effects of compressibility – Gothard and Prandtl Glauert correction

3. FINITE WINGS General statements - Velocity and vorticity field on finite wings - The wake and the induced drag - Numerical estimation of lift on finite wings - Lifting line theory - Surface panel methods for finite wings - Swept wings - Numerical estimation of drag on wing profiles - 3-D boundary layers - Finite wing design - Geometry and lift distribution along the wing span - Finite wing stall - The polar of a finite wing - Delta wing

4. THE COMPLETE AIRCRAFT Aerodynamics of the fuselage - The tail - The canard configuration - Drag and Lift of the complete aircraft


5. FUNDAMENTALS OF COMPRESSIBLE FLOWS. Isentropic relations - One dimensional flows, normal shock relations - Quasi 1D-flow:Area velocity relation, flow inside nozzles and diffusers - Oblique shock relations, shock polar diagram - General solution for linearized compressible flow. Supersonic general solution - Flow pasta a shaped wall - Thin supersonic airfoil theory - Small perturbation theory for lift and drag coefficients

6. AXISYMMETRIC SUPERSONIC FLOW. Basic concept and equations - Perturbation method - Flow past a cone - Method of characteristics - Slender body theory - Empirical methods - Applications of aerodynamics

7. THREE DIMENSIONAL THIN WINGS IN STEADY FLOW. Introduction - Non-lifting wings - Lifting wings of simple platforms - Sweptback wings - Method of supersonic source and doublet distributions


Lecture Notes by the lecturer

Elements of Fluid Dynamics – G. Buresti – Imperial College Press

Fundamentals of Aerodynamics – John D. Anderson – Third edition – Mc Graw Hill. ISBN: 0072373350

Applied Aerodynamics – A Digital Textbook – Ilan Kroo – Desktop Aeronautics Inc.

The Dynamics and Thermodynamics of Compressible Fluid Flow. - Ascher H. Shapiro Volume 1-Ronald Presss, 1953

Modern Compressible Flow with Historical Perspective, Anderson, J.D., Mc Graw Hill, 2nd edition, 2003

Teaching methods

Lectures and exercises given by the docents. During the course, seminars and integrative courses, given by highly distinguished lecturers, could be organised. They will be focused on specific aerodynamic topics for the Aerospace Engineering. These arguments will be part of the program and can be the part of the final exam.

Assessment methods

The assessment consists of an oral test in which the student will have to demonstrate a sufficient control of the topics presented in class and be able to perform a synthesis of the knowledge gained.

Teaching tools

Blackboard and power point presentations.

Office hours

See the website of Alessandro Talamelli

See the website of Alessandro Rossetti