There are many excellent texts covering aircraft design from a variety of perspectives.1
Some of these are aimed at specific audiences ranging from practising aerospace engineers,
to engineering students, to amateur airplane builders. Others cover specialized
aspects of the subject such as undercarriage or propulsion system design. Some of
these are quite detailed in their presentation of the design process while others are very
general in scope. Some are overviews of all the basic aeronautical engineering subjects
that come together in the creation of a design.
University faculty that teach aircraft design courses often face difficult choices when
evaluating texts or references for their students’ use. Many texts that are suitable for use
in a design class are biased toward particular classes of aircraft such as military aircraft,
general aviation, or airliners. A text that gives excellent coverage of design basics may
prove slanted toward a class of aircraft different from that year’s project. Alternatively,
those that emphasize the correct type of vehicle may treat design fundamentals in
an unfamiliar manner. The situation may be further complicated in classes that have
several teams of students working on different types of designs, some of which ‘fit’ the
chosen text while others do not.
Most teachers would prefer a text that emphasizes the basic thought processes of
preliminary design. Such a text should encourage students to seek an understanding
of the approaches and constraints appropriate to their design assignment before they
venture too far into the analytical processes. On the other hand, students would like a
text which simply tells them where to input their design objectives into a ‘black-box’
computer code or generalized spreadsheet, and preferably, where to catch the final
design drawings and specifications as they are printed out. Faculty would like their
students to begin the design process with a thorough review of their previous courses
in aircraft performance, aerodynamics, structures, flight dynamics, propulsion, etc.
Students prefer to start with an Internet search, hoping to find a solution to their
problem that requires only minimal ‘tweaking’.
Originally published on Blogger