2023-2024 / AERO0001-1



27h Th, 25h Pr, 2h Labo., 25h Proj.

Nombre de crédits

 Master : ingénieur civil en aérospatiale, à finalité5 crédits 
 Master : ingénieur civil mécanicien, à finalité5 crédits 
 Master : ingénieur civil physicien, à finalité5 crédits 


Thomas Andrianne, Vincent Terrapon

Langue(s) de l'unité d'enseignement

Langue anglaise

Organisation et évaluation

Enseignement au premier quadrimestre, examen en janvier


Horaire en ligne

Unités d'enseignement prérequises et corequises

Les unités prérequises ou corequises sont présentées au sein de chaque programme

Contenus de l'unité d'enseignement

Aerodynamics is the study of fluid flows around or within solid bodies. One of the major objectives of aerodynamics is to predict the forces and moments that are exerted by the fluid on the body, or to predict the heat transfers between the fluid and the body. Classically, aerodynamics has mostly focused on the calculation of lift and drag forces on simple airfoils or even complete aircrafts. Determining the aerodynamic forces and moments are a critical step in the design of an aircraft. Aerodynamics is thus an essential topic in the curriculum of aerospace engineers. 

This course presents the most fundamental aspects of aerodynamics. It focuses mostly on low-speed (incompressible) aerodynamics, but also briefly introduces some elements of compressible aerodynamics. Following topics are covered:

  • Aerodynamic forces and moments: lift and drag, pitching moment, airfoil polar, aerodynamic center, center of pressure
  • Incompressible potential flows, singularities (vortex, source, doublet), d'Alembert principle, circulation
  • Superposition of fundamental solutions, Rankine oval, lifting cylinder, Kutta-Joukowski theorem, conformal mapping, complex formalism, Joukowsky airfoil
  • Thin airfoil theory: line distribution of singularities, effect of thickness and camber, Kutta condition
  • Panel methods: potential-based, vortex-based, source-based, equivalence between source, doublet and vortex-based methods
  • 3D wings: vortex sheet, Prandtl lifting line theory for large aspect ratio wings, distribution of circulation, induced drag, downwash velocity, elliptic lift distribution, optimal wing, general lift distribution
  • Boundary layers: concepts and definitions, boundary conditions, thickness, von Karman integral equation, flow separation and airfoil stall, transition to turbulence
  • Laminar boundary layer: self-similar solution (Blasius, Falkner-Skan), Pohlhaussen method, Thwaites method
  • Turbulent boundary layer: transition, characteristics, Reynolds-averaging, Head method, log law
  • Compressible aerodynamics: compressible potential flow, Prandtl-Glauert equation, flow past a thin airfoil (subsonic, transonic, supersonic)
  • Application to vehicle aerodynamics

Acquis d'apprentissage (objectifs d'apprentissage) de l'unité d'enseignement

At the end of the course, the students should be able to:

  • Compute the aerodynamic forces and moments on a profile from a velocity or pressure distribution
  • Differentiate between the sources of drag, their cause and characteristics
  • Simplify important equations using dimensional analysis
  • Calculate the potential flow around a profile using the method of singularities and conformal mapping
  • Calculate the aerodynamic forces on a airfoil profile using the thin airfoil theory
  • Understand the link between singularities and panel methods
  • Calculate the inviscid aerodynamic forces on a three-dimensional wing from its two-dimensional characteristics
  • Calculate the boundary layer from the potential flow solution
  • Determine the best approach to compute the boundary layer (self-similar profile, integral method, ...)
  • Compare experimental measurements, with theoretical and/or numerical results
  • Differentiate between the physics of laminar and turbulent flows
  • Determine the characteristics of transition to turbulence and flow separation from the pressure distribution and Reynolds number
  • Average important equations using Reynolds approach
  • Estimate the aerodynamic forces in the supersonic and transsonic regimes for thin airfoils
  • Apply the concepts seen in class to other topics
This course contributes to the learning outcomes I.1, I.2, II.3, III.1, III.2, IV.1, IV.2, IV.3, VI.1, VI.2, VII.2, VII.4 of the MSc in aerospace engineering.

This course contributes to the learning outcomes I.1, I.2, II.3, III.1, III.2, IV.1, IV.10, IV.2, IV.3, VI.1, VI.2, VII.2, VII.4 of the MSc in mechanical engineering.

Savoirs et compétences prérequis

To efficiently follow this course, it is important to have basic knowledge in fluid mechanics (e.g., MECA0025 "Mécanique des fluides") and in mathematics (e.g., MATH0007 "Analyse mathématique II").

Activités d'apprentissage prévues et méthodes d'enseignement

Each week, the course relies on both a formal lecture taught face-to-face by the instructors, during which the theoretical concepts are described and explained, and an exercise session led by the assistant, whose objective is to illustrate and consolidate the theory through practical exercises. The solution to each problem set is available through the course website the following day. However, students are highly encouraged to actively solve the problem sets beforehand as it is the best way to learn the material. Previous year podcasts and lecture notes are also posted on the course website.

Learning activities also include a project in groups of 3 or 4 students to characterize an airfoil or a wing. It features a one-time wind tunnel laboratory session, during which aerodynamic measurements are carried out. This project allows the application of the theory seen in class to a concrete case and the comparison between theoretical, numerical and experimental results.

The report of the project is graded. Moreover, the participation in the laboratory and the project are mandatory. Students who have not taken part in the laboratory or not submitted a written report will not be admitted to the exam.

Mode d'enseignement (présentiel, à distance, hybride)

Cours donné exclusivement en présentiel

Explications complémentaires:

Both the theoretical lectures and the exercise sessions are taught face-to-face in class. However, a podcast of each theoretical lecture is available on the course website.

Lectures recommandées ou obligatoires et notes de cours

The mandatory reference book is:

  • "Fundamentals of Aerodynamics", John Anderson Jr., 5th edition, McGraw and Hill, ISBN 978-0-07-339810-5
Additionally, lecture notes, problem sets, podcasts and other supporting material are posted each week on the course website https://www.mtfc.uliege.be/Aerodynamics .

Modalités d'évaluation et critères

Examen(s) en session

Toutes sessions confondues

- En présentiel

évaluation écrite ( questions ouvertes )

Travail à rendre - rapport

Explications complémentaires:

 The final grade is obtained from two contributions:

  • Written exam (exercises and theory): 70%
  • Group project: 30% (based on a written report)
Participation in the wind tunnel laboratory and submission of a project report are mandatory to take the exam in both the 1st and 2nd session. The grade obtained for the project is reported for the 2nd session. Students are thus strongly advised to put sufficient effort into the project. 

The written exam is a closed-book exam. However, students are allowed to take a self-made handwritten summary of 12 one-sided pages. 



Remarques organisationnelles et modifications principales apportées au cours

The course is jointly taught by Prof. Terrapon and Dr. Andrianne.
All course material and podcasts are posted weekly on the course website. 
Note that, depending on the sanitary situation, the course organization might need to be adapted.


Students are encouraged to actively interact with the instructors, also outside of the lectures. It is recommended to set up an appointment first. For questions regarding the exercise sessions and the laboratory, the students can also contact directly the assistant. 

It is expected that the students follow a few basic rules when communicating by email: 

  • Indicate as subject "AERO0001: ...".
  • Only use ULiege addresses (xxx@student.uliege.be).
  • Always address emails to both lecturers and not only to one.
  • Follow the elementary rules of politeness. 


Prof. Vincent E. TERRAPON; MTFC research group; B52, 0/415; +32(0)4 366 9268; vincent.terrapon@uliege.be; https://www.mtfc.uliege.be

Dr. Thomas ANDRIANNE; Wind Tunnel Lab ; B52/9; +32(0)4 366 9336; t.andrianne@uliege.be; https://www.wind-tunnel.uliege.be 

Association d'un ou plusieurs MOOCs