Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MECH3855 Aerospace Flight Mechanics

20 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Dr C A Gilkeson

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

Year running 2024/25


MECH1210Mechanical Engineering Thermodynamics
MECH2610Engineering Mechanics
MECH2620Vibration and Control
MECH2670Thermofluids 2


MECH3855Aerospace Flight Mechanics

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module


In this module students will develop an understanding of three concepts of aerospace flight:
1. Aircraft and aerospace vehicle performance.
2. Steady level flight and dynamic behaviour of aircraft in flight.
3. The basics of aerospace flight and orbital mechanics.

Learning outcomes
At the end of this module, students will have learnt how to:
1. Apply the basic concepts of aerospace performance, using mathematical tools to aid its prediction.
2. Solve a diverse range of problems in the area of flight vehicle motion.
3. Analyse the control and dynamic behaviour of aircraft subjected to atmospheric or control inputs.
4. Analyse the performance of spacecraft and space vehicle motion in orbits and on hyperbolic trajectories.
5. Plan interplanetary space missions using the principles of two-body dynamics.

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

A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the scientific principles and methodology necessary to underpin their education in their engineering discipline, and an understanding and know-how of the scientific principles of related disciplines, to enable appreciation of the scientific and engineering context, and to support their understanding of relevant historical, current and future developments and technologies (SM1m)
Knowledge and understanding of mathematical and statistical methods necessary to underpin their education in their engineering discipline and to enable them to apply a range of mathematical and statistical methods, tools and notations proficiently and critically in the analysis and solution of engineering problems (SM2m)
A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of mathematical and computational models relevant to the engineering discipline, and an appreciation of their limitations (SM5m)
Understanding of engineering principles and the ability to apply them to undertake critical analysis of key engineering processes (EA1m)
Ability to identify, classify and describe the performance of systems and components through the use of analytical methods and modelling techniques (EA2)
Ability to apply quantitative and computational methods, using alternative approaches and understanding their limitations, in order to solve engineering problems and implement appropriate action (EA3m)
Ability to apply relevant practical and laboratory skills (P3)
Apply their skills in problem solving, communication, information retrieval, working with others and the effective use of general IT facilities (G1).

Skills outcomes
On completion of this module students will have acquired the following skills:
- analytical
- problem solving
- mathematical derivations and solutions
- adaptability.


1. Glossary of terms for aerospace vehicles and their components.
2. Introduction to aircraft performance in steady level flight.
3. Balance of forces
4. Gliding performance
5. Range & endurance calculations.
6. Manoeuvre performance.
7. Origin of symmetric forces and moments.
8. Accelerated flight:
a. Take-off
b. Flying in a circle
c. Accelerated climb
d. Landing performance
9. Longitudinal, Directional and Roll static stability and control
10. Aircraft equations of motion
11. Stick fixed longitudinal and lateral motion
12. Aircraft response to control or atmospheric inputs
13. Aeroelasticity
14. Ballistic missile performance
15. Basics of rocket performance
16. Launch systems
17. Orbital mechanics
18. Gravity assist trajectories
19. Interplanetary strategies
20. Practical considerations of spaceflight
21. Artificial satellites and space debris

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
In Course Assessment180.0080.00
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Private study hours70.00
Total Contact hours130.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are to spend on average:
- a total of 20 hours preparation/revision for all of the lectures
- 2 hours to completing the analysis from the flight testing exercise
- 48 hours exam preparation

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

An online discussion board will be monitored during specified times each week.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentFlight Mechanics20.00
AssignmentOrbital Mechanics20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

1) Coursework marks carried forward and 60% resit exam. OR 2) 100% resit exam

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Unseen exam 2 hr 60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

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


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019