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Unit outline_

AERO8460: Aerospace Design 1

Semester 1, 2024 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit aims to introduce students to the theory and practice of aircraft component design. In doing so it will emphasise all the considerations, trade-offs and decisions inherent in this process and thus enable students to gain an understanding of why aircraft structures are designed in the way they are with respect to aircraft operational, certification, manufacturing and cost considerations. At the end of this unit students will be able to understand the design process, especially as it applies to aircraft individual component design; Have a familiarity with some of the standard industry practices for component design; An increasing familiarity with typical aerospace analysis techniques along with the primary failure modes that need to be considered; An understanding of the importance of different failure modes for different components and how these relate to load-conditions; a farmilarity with the operating environment that must be considered when designing components; and understanding of some off the legal and ethical requirements of aircraft design engineers to give a basic understanding of the regulatory framework in which aircraft design is conducted.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

Mathematics, Physics and Solid Mechanics at the level of Bachelor of Engineering, Science or equivalent

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Zi Wang,
Lecturer(s) Zi Wang,
Tutor(s) Yuchen Huang,
Victor Zhou,
The census date for this unit availability is 2 April 2024
Type Description Weight Due Length
Small continuous assessment Logbook Weekly Check
Weekly check of logbook documentation during tutorials
10% Multiple weeks Week 3 to 12
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO6
Assignment Project 1 - Design of a light aircraft structure
Individual design report
15% Week 04
Due date: 17 Mar 2024 at 23:59

Closing date: 27 Mar 2024
Maximum 20 pages.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Small test In-class quiz 1: Week 1-4 Material
5 short question to be completed on paper during the lecture.
10% Week 05
Due date: 19 Mar 2024 at 13:00

Closing date: 19 Mar 2024
60 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Project 2 - Design of a light aircraft landing gear
Individual design report
20% Week 08
Due date: 21 Apr 2024 at 23:59

Closing date: 01 May 2024
Maximum 20 pages.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Small test In-class quiz 2: Week 5-8 Material
5 short questions to be completed on paper during the lecture
10% Week 09
Due date: 23 Apr 2024 at 13:00

Closing date: 23 Apr 2024
60 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment FEA modelling - light aircraft engine mount
Strand 7 model and maximum 5-page calculation.
5% Week 11
Due date: 12 May 2024 at 23:59

Closing date: 22 May 2024
Maximum 5 pages.
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO7
Presentation group assignment Group project - presentation
Group presentation.
5% Week 12
Due date: 19 May 2024 at 23:59

Closing date: 19 May 2024
10 mins presentation and 5 mins Q&A
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Assignment group assignment Group project - Design and testing of a small quadrotor frame
Group design report
25% Week 13
Due date: 26 May 2024 at 23:59

Closing date: 05 Jun 2024
Final report maximum 30 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Project 1 and 2: Major assignments where each student should independently work on a design project related to aerospace engineering. Each student should produce an individual design report which should be submitted and marked.

FEA modelling task: The students will learn to use FEA software Strand 7 to analyse the loads in a complex aerospace 3D truss structure such as an engine mount. The students need to submit their FEA model as well as the calculations that determine the load cases.

Group project: The students will work in a group to design a small quadrotor frame. The students are expected to present their design in the classroom and demonstrate their design in a crash test. A group design report must be submitted and marked at the conclusion of the project.

In-class quizzes 1 and 2: In-class quizzes comprise 5 short questions each which the students must attempt during the lectures.

Logbook: Each student should document his/her design process and/or hand calculations in projects 1 and 2, and group project. The logbook should be checked every week at the end of the tutorial session starting from week 3.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


75 - 84

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


65 - 74

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


50 - 64

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Project 1 report, project 2 report, group project report, and FEA model submission: any assessment submitted after the due time and date (or extended due time and date) will incur a late penalty of 5% of the total marks per 24 hour period, or part thereof, late (note that this is applied to the mark gained after the submitted work is marked). For work submitted more than ten calendar days after the due date a mark of zero will be awarded. The marker may elect to but is not required to, provide feedback on such work. In-class quizzes: quizzes submitted after the Closing Date will not be marked or assessed. Logbook: logbook not checked during the tutorial will not receive any marks for that week.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

Support for students

The Support for Students Policy 2023 reflects the University’s commitment to supporting students in their academic journey and making the University safe for students. It is important that you read and understand this policy so that you are familiar with the range of support services available to you and understand how to engage with them.

The University uses email as its primary source of communication with students who need support under the Support for Students Policy 2023. Make sure you check your University email regularly and respond to any communications received from the University.

Learning resources and detailed information about weekly assessment and learning activities can be accessed via Canvas. It is essential that you visit your unit of study Canvas site to ensure you are up to date with all of your tasks.

If you are having difficulties completing your studies, or are feeling unsure about your progress, we are here to help. You can access the support services offered by the University at any time:

Support and Services (including health and wellbeing services, financial support and learning support)
Course planning and administration
Meet with an Academic Adviser

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks Independent study and working on assignments Independent study (70 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 01 Introduction to design methods and certification requirements Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO5
Week 02 Struts, Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), engineering drawings and design reports. Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 03 Bolts, lugs, rivets, cyclic and secondary loading Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6
Week 04 Off-design loads and material selection Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 05 Landing loads and undercarriage analysis Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 06 Undercarriage analysis Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 07 Gyroscopic loads, and engine mounts Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 08 Engine mounts and truss design Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 09 Truss design and welding Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 10 Drones, air taxi, urban aerial mobility and regulations Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 11 Multirotor components and structure Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5
Week 12 External structures Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 13 Unit review Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Determine the limit and ultimate cases that are appropriate for the design of an aerospace industry component
  • LO2. Make an informed choice of materials appropriate to the design
  • LO3. Apply and interpret current certification rules for construction of aerospace components
  • LO4. Demonstrate skills in sorting through and interpreting large amounts of information and selecting items and methods appropriate to the specifications of a design
  • LO5. Apply standard aerospace design techniques to a simple analysis problem
  • LO6. Invent or construct solutions to design problems and prove the appropriateness of these solutions
  • LO7. Analyse the loads, load paths, stresses and reactions for complex 3-D frame structures

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

The first change is the group project release date is set 5 weeks earlier to allow students ample time to prepare for the practical project. There were many complaints about not having enough time to get inducted into the FabLab, where they needed access to the 3D printers. We have also changed the FEA modelling project deliverable from the model plus a 5-page report to only the software model. As the report from last year was not good for reflecting the students' learning. The FEA modelling assignment due date is pushed back by 1 week to give students more time to complete the tasks. This is possible now as the group project release date is set to a much earlier week.

Additional costs

Students are required to manufacture a small drone to complete the project. The cost depends on where the students source the materials from.


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