16.885J | Fall 2004 | Graduate

Aircraft Systems Engineering


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Lectures: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Subject Description

Aircraft are complex products comprised of many subsystems which must meet demanding customer and operational lifecycle value requirements. The subject adopts a holistic view of the aircraft as a system, covering: basic systems engineering; cost and weight estimation; basic aircraft performance; safety and reliability; lifecycle topics; aircraft subsystems; risk analysis and management; and system realization. Small student teams “retrospectively analyze” an existing aircraft covering: key design drivers and decisions; aircraft attributes and subsystems; operational experience. Oral and written versions of the case study are delivered.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of 16.885, students will have gained:

  • An appreciation of an aircraft as a system, operating within a larger air transportation or air defense system, and comprised of many subsystems
  • Understanding of, and ability to apply, basic concepts for:
    • Systems Engineering: Requirements, Interface mgmt, Verification and Validation
    • Cost and Weight Analysis and Estimation
    • Performance Analysis
    • Reliability and Safety
    • The Function, Architecture and Key Performance Issues of Major Subsystems
    • Risk Analysis and Management
    • Design Closure to Deliver Lifecycle Value
  • An ability to understand complex systems and design choices through the retrospective analysis of existing aircraft systems

Measurable Outcomes

  • Retrospective Analysis of an Existing Aircraft Design, Delivered in both Written and Oral Forms
  • Individual Contributions to Case Study Team Effort as Reported by Student and Teammates
  • Class Participation
  • End of Semester Interview with Course Faculty on Achievement of Learning Objectives

Subject Organization

  • The semester deliverable will be a written case study of an existing aircraft developed by a team of 4-5 students. There will be interim written and oral versions.
  • Lectures on Tuesday and Thursday will cover material that should be relevant to the case study. The format will be approximately 75 minutes of lecture and 15 minutes of questions and discussion.
  • Hardcopy of lecture notes/slides will be handed out. Available electronic versions can be found in the lecture notes section.
  • The lab on Wednesday at 4 pm will be allocated to team meetings or team oral presentations.
  • A field trip to Sikorsky in Stratford, CT will be scheduled.


Team Grades

Written Version 1 10%
Written Version 2 10%
Oral Presentation 1 10%
Written Version 3 15%
Oral Presentation 2 10%
Final Written Version 20%
Total Team Grade 75%

Individual Grades

Midterm Written Assessment 10%
End of Term Oral Assessment 15%
Total Individual Grades 25%