Flight mechanics - The basis (Coursera)

Flight mechanics - The basis (Coursera)
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Flight mechanics - The basis (Coursera)
More than one century after the Wright brothers' first flight, the flight still defy our intuition. You will learn here how to name the different parts of the airplane and how to describe and quantify its geometry. For that, we need now to share a precise vocabulary to describe the airplane's movement and attitude in space, and a refresher on basic general mechanic principles. You will remind how Newton's 2nd law allows you to determine what force must be applied on an apple - or on an airplane, to modify the magnitude and direction of its speed.

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Coming back on the concepts of kinetic energy and potential energy, you will discover the very useful concept of total height and you will be able to explain how an airplane can quickly exchange speed for altitude, while changes in total height are much slower.

In the end, you will discover that only a very small number of forces apply on an airplane in flight and that you will be able to classify those that change its energy state and those that modify its trajectory. You will discover the concept of load factor and understand why the pilot of a combat aircraft can feel a weight nine-time greater than his actual weight! Finally, we will establish the lift and propulsion equations, that form the basis of flight mechanics, and you will be able to compute the lift and thrust necessary to follow a given trajectory at a given speed.

This course is for anybody interested in learning more about how planes work, the physics of flying, or flight mechanics. It will be of particular interest to undergraduate students in aerospace engineering, trainees as well as senior pilots, journalists, and professionals in the aeronautics sector.

Although some mathematical formalism may be present sometimes. It is always doubled by sketches, figures, and hands-explanations. So that, anybody can skip the formulas without losing the core understanding of the concepts.

No apples were harmed in the making of this course...

This course is only a foretaste of the mechanics of flight. ISAE-SUPAERO and Eric Poquillon will offer you other courses and the first specialization in autumn 2021. Initially, three courses will be published to answer several questions: Can we fly as high as we want? What is a stall? Why do some planes have propellers and others have jet engines? Is an airplane always stable? How do you control an airplane following an engine failure? All this and more will be covered in this series of flight mechanics courses.


What You Will Learn

- Use precise and appropriate words to describe an airplane and its motion in the air.

- Apply Newton's law to compute the evolution of the trajectory of an airplane, based on the aerodynamic forces acting on it.


Syllabus


WEEK 1

Anatomy of the plane

Along this first week, we want you to get acquainted to the airplane. We will first learn how to name the different parts of the airplane and how to describe and quantify its geometry. And we will see through an exercise that concepts that seem well defined, like the surface of the wing (wing surface), can be, in practice, difficult to measure. This part will allow us to share a common and precise vocabulary.


WEEK 2

Vocabulary and Tools

We need now to share a precise vocabulary to describe the airplane's movement and attitude in space, and a refresher on basic general mechanics principles. You will review how Newton's second law allows you to determine what force must be applied on an apple - or on an airplane, to modify the magnitude and direction of its speed. Coming back on the concepts of kinetic energy and potential energy, you will discover the very useful concept of total height and you will be able to explain how an airplane can quickly exchange speed for altitude, while changes in total height are much slower. To conclude this week, we invite you on a tour of our full flight simulator Pegasus (Pegase in French), to see how clever use of those concepts in a Head-Up Display might allow you to conduct a perfect approach and landing without a single glance at your speed or altitude indicators.


WEEK 3

Basis of flight mechanics

It's time to apply your knowledge to the airplane! You will discover that only a very small number of forces apply on an airplane in flight and that you are able to classify those that change its energy state and those that modify its trajectory. You will discover the concept of load factor and understand why the pilot of a combat aircraft can feel a weight nine-time greater than his actual weight! You will come on board our DR400 light airplane (not a combat airplane indeed) with Newton's apple to better understand what this load factor actually means. Finally, you will establish the lift and propulsion equations, that form the basis of flight mechanics, and you will be able to compute the lift and thrust necessary to follow a given trajectory at a given speed. No apples were harmed in the making of this course.

Graded assessment for the course

In this final graded assessment, you will check your knowledge and apply it to solve an actual flight dynamic problem : how to fly a loop in a glider.



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Free Course

MOOC List is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.