Course Title: Aerodynamics and Flight Performance

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Aerodynamics and Flight Performance

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


115H Aerospace, Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering


Sem 2 2016


City Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2021

Course Coordinator: Prof. Pier Marzocca

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 447375937

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

In this course, you will develop your understanding of the theories underpinning low speed and high-speed aerodynamics, and study advanced topics in aerodynamics.  The course builds on the concepts underlying the generation of lift and drag in aircraft, and the main methods available to determine aerodynamic forces considering different flow conditions (2D and 3D, incompressible and compressible, inviscid or viscous flow). Advanced topics include an overview of theories applied to rotary aerodynamics (lifting disc and blade element theories, hovering/vertical/forward flight mechanics), computational, experimental and flight testing. The main governing equations for aircraft flight mechanics are presented and used to analyse the flight performance of aircraft in different situations.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following program learning outcomes of the Master of Engineering:

1. Needs, Context and Systems

  • Describe, investigate and analyse complex engineering systems and associated issues (using systems thinking and modelling techniques)

2. Problem Solving and Design

  • Develop creative and innovative solutions to engineering problems

3. Analysis

  • Comprehend and apply advanced theory-based understanding of engineering fundamentals and specialist bodies of knowledge in the selected discipline area to predict the effect of engineering activities
  • Apply underpinning natural, physical and engineering sciences, mathematics, statistics, computer and information sciences.

4. Professional Practice

  • Communicate in a variety of different ways to collaborate with other people, including accurate listening, reading and comprehension, based on dialogue when appropriate, taking into account the knowledge, expectations, requirements, interests, terminology and language of the intended audience

5. Research

  • Assess, acquire and apply the competencies and resources appropriate to engineering activities

Upon successful completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Derive and apply the aircraft flight mechanics equations to analyse the flight performance of aircraft in different situations  
  2. Determine aerodynamic characteristics (e.g., pressure distribution, lift and drag) of aircraft components and systems in the context of different low speed flow conditions (2D/3D, inviscid/viscous) 
  3. Characterise the main aerodynamic properties of high-speed flows (transonic, supersonic and hypersonic) 
  4. Utilise computational methods to perform complex analyses and flow visualisation requiring increased understanding of fluid dynamics 
  5. Explain the principles of aeroelasticity and relate the importance of fluid-structure interaction in aircraft performance 
  6. Analyse and assess the aerodynamic performance and characteristics of rotorcraft systems  

Overview of Learning Activities

You will learn this course through pre-recorded lecture videos, directed reading, classroom tutorials and discussions, and investigative research. The learning process is reinforced through problem-based learning using case studies.

Overview of Learning Resources

Course-related resources will be provided on the course's Canvas (RMIT Learning Hub). These will include videos, course notes, and other learning materials generated by the course lecturer(s), references, and approved links to useful material on external websites. 

Recommended References 
  • E. L. Houghton, P. W. Carpenter, S. Collicott, D. Valentine, “Aerodynamics for Engineering Students” 2012, Butterworth Heinemann, ISBN: 978-0080966328.
  • Roskam, J. and Lan, C.-T., “Airplane Aerodynamics and Performance, DARcorporation,” 1997, ISBN-13: 978-1884885440.
  • J. D. Anderson, “Computational Fluid Dynamics: The Basics with Applications,” McGraw Hill, 1995, ISBN-13: 978-0070016859.
  • Fung, Y.C., An Introduction to the Theory of Aeroelasticity. Dover Publications, 1994, ISBN-13: 978-0486495057

Overview of Assessment

X This course has no hurdle requirements.

☐ All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).


Assessment Tasks:

Assessment Task 1: Individual Assignment 1
Weighting: 20%
This assessment task supports CLOs: 1 -3

Assessment Task 2: Mid-Semester Assessment
Weighting: 30%
This assessment task supports CLOs:1 -3

Assessment Task 3: Group Assignment 2
Weighting: 30%
This assessment task supports CLOs: 1, 2, 4, 5

Assessment Task 4: Final Assessment
Weighting: 20%
This assessment task supports CLOs: 1-5

The Mid-Semester and Final Assessments are timed assessments of two hours duration to be taken at any time during a time window of 24 hours.