Aircraft Performance - Physics and Simulation, Certificate

  • Application Deadline
  • 42 days
  • Tuition
    Tuition (Full programme)
    Tuition (Full programme)
  • English (take IELTS)
University rank #59 Online
This Aircraft Performance Physics and Simulation course from Delft University of Technology will not teach you how to pilot an aircraft as taught in flying schools but rather why this is the best way of doing it by providing you with a more fundamental understanding of the physics governing aircraft performance.


Aircraft performance is an exciting and challenging field that is continuously evolving. For example, by the year 2050, civil aircraft should have 75% less emissions than present day aircraft. This Aircraft Performance Physics and Simulation course from Delft University of Technology dives into the physics and phenomena that determine aircraft performance to give you practical insights for real-world aircraft operations and development of future aircraft designs.

For professionals with a mechanical (or similar) engineering background, working in the aerospace industry on specific aircraft subsystems, this course will provide you with a system level understanding of aircraft performance and the impact your work has in the bigger picture. Thereby it will help you make better decisions, become more effective and ultimately advance your career.

For engineering students aspiring to work in the aerospace industry or interested in pursuing a master degree in aerospace engineering, this course can bridge the gap between mechanical and aeronautical engineering.

At the same time, this course is intended for pilots. This course will not teach you how to pilot an aircraft as taught in flying schools but rather why this is the best way of doing it by providing you with a more fundamental understanding of the physics governing aircraft performance. Enthusiasts working with UAVs can obtain a better understanding of the performance characteristics of their UAVs, how to operate them in the most optimal way and can predict the effect of design changes.

What you'll learn:
  • Understand the physical principles that determine aircraft performance
  • Calculate performance of an aircraft for various flight phases (take-off and landing, climb and descent, cruise and turning flight) in realistic conditions, satisfying real world constraints.
  • Determine the flying strategies that result in optimal aircraft performance
  • Quantify the impact of sub-system technology improvements, (for example a more powerful and more efficient propulsion system, improved aerodynamics, a better structural design) on system level aircraft performance.
  • How to develop computer simulations that allow you to calculate detailed aircraft performance characteristics

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Full-time duration 42 days
  • Study intensity Part-time
    • Intensity 5 hrs/week
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    • Time flexibility
      Fully structured
    • Attendance
      No Attendance
    • Teacher support
      Continuous support with feedback on request
    • Student interaction
      Individual work/assignments (with online group discussions), Online group works/assignments

Programme Structure

You will learn to calculate (optimal) performance of an aircraft in realistic operating conditions, satisfying real-world constraints. A thorough coverage of the principles of aircraft performance for the key flight phases will be provided by an expert in the field. The gap between theory and practice will be bridged by interviews with experienced flight test pilots. Most text books and courses on this topic are either limited to an analytical treatment of relatively simple problems or they focus on operational aspects without a thorough treatment of the physics.

However, in this course you will also learn how to develop your own physics based computer simulations that calculate realistic aircraft performance characteristics. Even though the emphasis in this course is on fixed wing civil aircraft, what you will learn can also be applied directly to other vehicles such as military aircraft, gliders, and unmanned aerial vehicles. In addition to the online course material, you will also receive the E-book "Elements of Airplane Performance" by Ruijgrok.
Modular course structure
The course has a modular set up where you can choose your own path based on your background, knowledge and personal preferences. Either choose an analytical approach of all important flight phases from take-off to landing or choose an advanced treatment of specific flight phases including detailed numerical simulations. If needed, a basic introduction module is also available. The modules available are provided in the figure below and you are completely free to choose any combination adding up to 4 credits. A single credit equals about 6-9 hours of work.


This is the right course for you, if you are:
  • A pilot, seeking a more fundamental understanding of the physics that govern aircraft performance.
  • A professional (mechanical engineer) in the aerospace industry working on a specific aircraft subsystem or discipline (for example, aerodynamicist, landing gear design, etc.)
  • An engineering student (mechanical, electrical, applied physics) aiming to transfer to the world of aeronautics.
  • An aircraft enthusiast, operating and developing unmanned aerial vehicles in your free time

English Language Requirements

This programme requires students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

Take IELTS test

Academic Requirements

This course is primarily geared towards working professionals. High school physics and mathematics are required. For the optional module on simulation, some basic programming skills are required.

Admission process
After enrolling you will receive a confirmation email. In order to complete your admission process you will be asked to email the following document:
  • a copy of your passport or ID card (no driver's license)

Getting a Student Visa

This is an online programme. You don’t need a visa to study in this programme.

Tuition Fee Per Full Programme

  • EUR 695 International
  • EUR 695 EU/EEA


StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.