Aerodynamics is the study of the effect of gas flows, such as air, around a body, and the forces and moments generated. The understanding of aerodynamics is vital for the design of efficient, capable and competitive aircraft, and aerodynamics has an important role in making aircraft more environmentally-friendly.
Racing cars and wind turbines are examples of technologies outside of aerospace in which aerodynamics engineering play a prominent part. Aerodynamic engineering often uses a mix of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), wind tunnel work and ultimately flight testing to achieve a solution.
Aerodynamics has an important role to play in meeting the European Union’s targets for improvements in air transport emissions by 2020. Aircraft fuel burn and noise will both need to be significantly reduced, with aerodynamic enhancements currently being developed both in industry and academia to meet the challenge. The increasing use and development of UAVs, is providing a stimulus for aerodynamic research into unconventional configurations and control methods.
What do aerodynamicists do?
Aerodynamicists are required to contribute at all stages of an aircraft development programme. Aerodynamics research is often carried out jointly between universities and industry, leading to opportunities in both. Aerodynamicists work as part of conceptual design teams and also are involved in the detail design of new aircraft. Other opportunities include flight testing, Formula 1 teams and building aerodynamics.