Course Title: Helicopter Aerodynamics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Helicopter Aerodynamics

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Bundoora Campus


115H Aerospace, Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering


Sem 2 2006,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 1 2009

Course Coordinator: AProf P.H. Hoffmann

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 6087

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Bundoora East 251.3.25

Course Coordinator Availability: As shown on office door

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Students will be assumed to understand basic principles of aerodynamics and mathematics at a level appropriate to second year engineering students.  This course requires:
• AERO2356 Introduction to Aerodynamics (pre-requisite)
• AERO2358 Fundamentals of Aerodynamics (may be a pre-requisite or a co-requisite).

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the aerodynamics of helicopters, and application of the relevant principles to the aerodynamic design of a helicopter rotor and its blades.  Rotary wing vehicles constitute a significant fraction of aircraft in Australia, on both the civil and military registers, and are used in a wide variety of applications. Graduate Aerospace engineers may therefore reasonably be expected to be able to analyse the aerodynamics and perform preliminary aerodynamic design of a rotary wing aircraft.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Students will gain or improve capabilities in:
• Technical competence: this course prepares students to be able to conduct analysis of helicopter aerodynamics.
• Professional Skills: student capabilities relating to communication and working in teams will be improved through group work in a design project, and through presentation of written and verbal reports.

On successful completion of this course, consisting of a combination of classes, tutorials and team-based project work, students will be able to:
• Analyse the rotor and aircraft performance under conditions in which a helicopter is in hovering and axial flight;
• Analyse helicopter rotor performance in forward flight;
• Analyse the performance of a helicopter in forward flight, identifying conditions which limit the performance of the helicopter;
• Use simplified aerodynamic theory as it applies to helicopter flight to perform preliminary aerodynamic design of a helicopter rotor.

Overview of Learning Activities

Classes will be held to deliver the basic aerodynamics theory of rotary wing aircraft.  These classes will be bi-directional: you will be encouraged to ask questions and clarify points as required.  The pace of the classes will be determined by this level of feedback required.  Parts of some classes will be used as problem-solving sessions to enable application and reinforcement of the theory being covered.

Project workshops will also be held, so that you are able to obtain assistance with and advice about your group project.  In some weeks the workshop time may be given over to a tutorial and problem-solving session: depending on the semester schedule and on a needs basis.

Overview of Learning Resources

Course notes will be made available through the Bookshop.  Other course-related resources will be provided on the RMIT Distributed Learning System (DLS). These will include learning guides, problem sheets and solutions, auxiliary information generated by the course lecturer(s) and approved links to useful material on external web-sites.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed in several ways to ensure you meet the learning outcomes of the course.  Your ability to explain and apply the aerodynamic theory of rotary wing aircraft will be tested through individual assignment and test work.  Your ability to work in groups, to perform a preliminary aerodynamic design and to report on it, will be assessed through the major project.