ENME 489F - Dynamics of Atmospheric Flight

3 Credits


Findlay, David


Fundamentals of Aerodynamics, Fifth Edition by John Anderson, McGraw Hill Series in Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering. ISBN-10: 0073398101


PHYS 270
ENME 331
MATH 246
MATH 206 or ENME 202


This course will cover the fundamentals of near earth aerodynamics associated with fixed wing air vehicle atmospheric flight.  Primary topics will include review of basic fluid flow equations of motion, airfoil and wing theory, and compressible flow effects.  This will be done through processes such as lectures, tests, homework assignments, and a special topic review project.  Periodic relevance to real-world examples of applied aerodynamics based on the instructors 30+ years of experience within the area of aeromechanics toward military aviation will be included.


  1. Apply flow similarity, non-dimensional coefficients such as the lift and drag coefficient, and non-dimensional parameters such as the Mach number and Reynolds number in aerodynamic modeling of realistic configurations.
  2. Apply mass, momentum, energy conservation and potential flow arguments to explain the relationship between flow turning, the generation of lift on an airfoil, and the subsequent loss of lift upon stall.
  3. Explain the sources of friction, induced, wave, and pressure drag.
  4. Explain the motion and deformation of a fluid element using kinematics including the definition of source, sink, vorticity, divergence, and the substantial derivative.
  5. Explain the concept of a laminar boundary layer including the definition of the displacement thickness, the momentum thickness, and the skin friction coefficient, and the importance of the Reynolds number in determining the presence and behavior of a boundary layer.
  6. Explain the onset of turbulence in a boundary layer (i.e. transition) and the qualitative effects of turbulence on boundary layer evolution including the impact on velocity profile, skin friction coefficient, boundary layer thickness, and separation.
  7. Estimate friction drag on 2-D and 3-D configurations by decomposing the geometry into patches and assuming appropriate local values of skin friction coefficients including the possibility of laminar or turbulent boundary layer conditions.
  8. Explain the basic elements of 2-D panel methods.
  9. Explain the basic elements of coupled inviscid-viscous models for 2-D airfoils.
  10. (a) Explain the basic elements of thin airfoil potential flow models for 2-D subsonic and supersonic flows, and (b) Apply thin airfoil potential flow models to estimate the forces on airfoils in 2-D subsonic and supersonic flows.
  11. (a) Explain the basic elements of the lifting line model for high aspect ratio wings, (b) Describe the dependence of lift and induced drag on geometry and performance parameters (e.g. aspect ratio, twist, camber distribution, wing loading, flight speed, etc.) using the lifting line model, and (c) Apply the lifting line model to estimate lift, induced drag, and roll moments on high aspect ratio wings.
  12. (a) Explain the relationship between sound propagation and shock wave, (b) Describe the qualitative change in flow conditions (Mach number, pressure, temperature, total pressure, etc.) across shocks and expansion fans, (c) Estimate the change in flow conditions across shocks and expansion fans using shock-expansion theory (d) explain transonic drag rise including the critical Mach number and the use of wing sweep to delay drag rise.
  13. Explain the use of wind tunnel testing in aerodynamic modeling focusing on the importance of flow similarity in scale testing and on the typical corrections (e.g. wall corrections) required to simulate flight conditions.
  14. Assess the ability and limitations of an aerodynamic model to estimate lift and drag (separated into friction, induced, wave, and pressure drag contributions) for a specific application.


Course Primary Sections:

  • How Do Things Fly?
  • Fundamentals of Fluid Dynamics
  • Subsonic (Incompressible Aero)
  • Compressibility
  • Supersonic Aero
  • Transonic Aero

Learning Outcomes 

  • an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
  • an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

Class/Laboratory Schedule 

  • One 160 minute lecture per week

Last Updated By 
David Findlay, June 2017