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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MECH3450 Aerospace Vehicle Design

20 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Dr Greg de Boer

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as a discovery module


Understand the application of design to the modern aerospace industry. Design the different aspects of an aerospace vehicle, initial conceptual, performance prediction, vehicle sizing leading onto detail design of the different aerospace vehicle systems.

Learning outcomes
After successfully completing this course, student will be able to:
1. Work as part of a team in the design of an aerospace vehicle
2. Understand the application of design to the modern aerospace industry
3. Determine the general configuration of an aerospace vehicle
4. Determine the configuration of the fuselage, wing, powerplant, control mechanism and landing/takeoff process/mechanism (undercarriage).
5. Estimate aerodynamic and operational characteristics of the aerospace vehicle.
6. Evaluate and present the preliminary design of the aerospace vehicle.

Upon successful completion of this module the following UK-SPEC learning outcome descriptors are satisfied:

Ability to apply and integrate knowledge and understanding of other engineering disciplines to support study of their own engineering discipline and the ability to evaluate them critically and to apply them effectively (SM3m)
Understanding of concepts from a range of areas, including some outside engineering, and the ability to evaluate them critically and to apply them effectively in engineering projects (SM6m)
Understanding of, and the ability to apply, an integrated or systems approach to solving complex engineering problems (EA4m)
Understand and evaluate business, customer and user needs, including considerations such as the wider engineering context, public perception and aesthetics (D1)
Investigate and define the problem, identifying any constraints including environmental and sustainability limitations; ethical, health, safety, security and risk issues; intellectual property; codes of practice and standards (D2)
Work with information that may be incomplete or uncertain, quantify the effect of this on the design and, where appropriate, use theory or experimental research to mitigate deficiencies (D3m)
Apply advanced problem-solving skills, technical knowledge and understanding, to establish rigorous and creative solutions that are fit for purpose for all aspects of the problem including production, operation, maintenance and disposal (D4)
Plan and manage the design process, including cost drivers, and evaluate outcomes (D5)
Communicate their work to technical and non-technical audiences (D6)
Demonstrate wide knowledge and comprehensive understanding of design processes and methodologies and the ability to apply and adapt them in unfamiliar situations (D7m)
Demonstrate the ability to generate an innovative design for products, systems, components or processes to fulfil new needs (D8m)
Understanding of the need for a high level of professional and ethical conduct in engineering, a knowledge of professional codes of conduct and how ethical dilemmas can arise (EL1m)
Awareness of relevant legal requirements governing engineering activities, including personnel, health & safety, contracts, intellectual property rights, product safety and liability issues, and an awareness that these may differ internationally (EL5m)
Knowledge and understanding of risk issues, including health and safety, environmental and commercial risk, risk assessment and risk management techniques and an ability to evaluate commercial risk (EL6m)
Knowledge of characteristics of particular equipment, processes or products, with extensive knowledge and understanding of a wide range of engineering materials and components (P2m)
Understanding of the use of technical literature and other information sources (P4)
Knowledge of relevant legal and contractual issues (P5)
Understanding of appropriate codes of practice and industry standards (P6)
Awareness of quality issues and their application to continuous improvement (P7)
Ability to work with technical uncertainty (P8)
A thorough understanding of current practice and its limitations, and some appreciation of likely new developments (P9m)
Ability to apply engineering techniques taking account of a range of commercial and industrial constraints (P10m)
Understanding of different roles within an engineering team and the ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility, which may be as a team member or leader (P11m)
Apply their skills in problem solving, communication, information retrieval, working with others and the effective use of general IT facilities (G1)
Exercise initiative and personal responsibility, which may be as a team member or leader (G4)

Skills outcomes
On completion of this module students will have acquired the following skills:
- written communication
- problem solving
- interpersonal communication
- personal initiative
- oral presentation
- adaptability to changing requirements
- teamwork
- numeracy
- planning and organising
- computer skills
- research
- time management
- critical analysis and argument.


1. General aspects of aerospace configuration development, specifications, design process, civil airworthiness requirements
2. Aerospace vehicle arrangement, sizing, component locations, unconventional configurations.
3. Fuselage design for airline, general aviation, cargo.
4. Flight deck design, visibility.
5. Design and performance, weight prediction, drag estimation, performance requirements, synthesis and optimisation.
6. Powerplant selection and installation.
7. Wing design, wing area and loading, low and high subsonic & supersonic wings, high lift devices, wing structures.
8. Aerospace vehicle weight and balance, prediction, centre of gravity location.
9. Preliminary tailplane design, longitudinal and lateral stability requirements.
10. Undercarriage layout.
11. Aerodynamic and operational characteristics, flight envelope.
12. Preliminary design presentation and reporting.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours156.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Students are to spend on average 1 hour preparation/revision for each lecture (1 hour - total)
- and 156 hours to carry out the aerospace conceptual design, write the report and prepare for the presentation.

During both semesters in order to prepare for the final presentation students will have to:
- prepare several individual presentation
- as well as delivering 3 group presentations to demonstrate their progress.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

There is an opportunity for formative feedback during a Design presentation conference.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportFinal Design Group Report20.00
PresentationFinal Design Group Presentation15.00
ReportPreliminary Design Group Report15.00
PresentationPreliminary Design Group Presentation10.00
ReportFinal Design Individual Report40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Individual pieces of coursework offered. Students must satisfy certain threshold conditions of competence in order to be awarded the credits for this module. These additional competences relate to UK-SPEC Engineering Council learning outcomes required for accreditation that are uniquely assessed in this module, specifically; EL5m, EL6m, P5, P10m and D2

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:16:42


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