Aerospace Centre of Excellence Research in Computational & Theoretical Aerodynamics

The study of the interaction between a body and a fluid in relative motion is the fundamental problem in aerodynamics.

This is tackled by formulating and implementing advanced theoretical and computational methods with application to the design of the next generation of aircraft, access-to-space systems and to the understanding of the fundamental fluid dynamics mechanisms like turbulent transition and aerodynamically generated noise.

Within the area of computational & theorectical aerodynamics, our research focuses on several key methods in which we have a sustained track-record.

High fidelity methods

Research in this area focusses on the development of advanced numerical methods to to discretize and solve the Navier-Stokes and Euler equations. This includes: kinetic-based numerical schemes to enhance the consistency with the physics across various Mach and Knudsen regimes, ph-adaptivity and adapt by re-meshing methods in connection with higher-order discretizations (e.g., Discontinuous Galerkin). This is done in the context of the open-source solver SU2 (

Reduced basis methods

This area covers the formulation of methods to reduce the computational complexity of CFD studies for multi-point analyses. The approach provides cost-effective (up to the limit of real-time computing) yet accurate (in the order of 10% w.r.t. a CFD analysis) solutions. This includes: Reduced Basis (aka Order) methods based on Principal Components Analysis, machine learning and Galerkin-based projection methods for compressible and complex unsteady flow problems.

Hypersonics and re-entry

The aerodynamics of access-to-space system and trans-atmospheric flight is studied by developing methods that take into consideration aspects like thermal and chemical nonequilibrium and the potential loss of validity of Navier-Stokes approach. This includes studies of Jacobian-free methods for potentially complex systems of equations due to finite-rate chemistry and the introduction of kinetic methods. Research in this area includes also the formulation of low-fidelity methods (e.g., modified Newton theory) for re-entry aerothermodynamics.

Transonic aerodynamics

The methods above contribute to the creation of a highly integrated multi-fidelity platform (from higher-order to low-fidelity methods) for the aerodynamics analysis and design of the next-generation of transonic transport vehicles. This includes: unconventional configurations like blended wings, collaborative fuselages, high aspect ratio wings and the airframe integration of advanced propulsion systems like boundary layer interaction or ultra high by pass ratio concepts.

Research & industrial projects

  • Robust- and sustainable-by-design ultra-high aspect ratio wing and airframe (RHEA). H2020 CleanSky2 Joint Undertaking. Partners: TU Braunschweig, Imperial College, DNW wind tunnels, IRT Saint-Exupery
  • Multi-disciplinary modelling of the aerothemodynamically-induced fragmentation of re-entering bodies (MIDGARD). European Space Agency. Partners: Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Fluid Gravity
  • Physics-based Modelling and Simulation of Spaceplanes Nonequilibrium Aerodynamics, UK Space Agency, National Space Technology Program with Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • High-fidelity Computational Study of the Aerothermodynamic Performance of Future Sustainable Access-to-Space Systems, EPSRC Impact Accelerator with Orbital Access and Fluid Gravity Engineering
  • Multi-physics Analysis and Design of Aerospace Systems, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada with McGill University, Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter

Read more about the Intelligent Computational Engineering Laboratory

Key publications