One in a series of posts about an aeronautical engineering course I created this year.
This project’s objectives were to explore the notions of and relations between cruise speed, fuel consumption, weight, and economics. The lecture focuses on ordinary flight mechanics.
This is a very short and lightweight lecture: we focus on a simple model for the relation between lift and drag, and we derive the Breguet Range equation in class (first part of the projet).
Once this is covered, the project lets students explore airline economics by themselves, conceptualizing, estimating and researching values for sector length, aircraft usage, and so on. My feeling is that they truly enjoyed this.
Overall the lecture and project are far less demanding than any of the three previous sessions, a very drastic step down. This was prompted by the correction of the Project 2 hand-ins in the week leading to this lecture, which as I discussed earlier unambiguously showed that I had been aiming too high.
Preparation for this lecture was thus improvised in a couple of days (I recycled the payload-range diagrams from another course). In retrospect, reducing the difficulty of the lecture and project was a wise idea. There was decidedly more enjoyment among the student groups, in class, in the reports and presentations.
At the start of the lecture I bet croissants and coffee with students that they would find that project much easier. No-one ever claimed anything but I didn’t get any coffee, either.