Wind Tunnel Testing for Aircraft Development Online

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Image courtesy of Bombardier Aerospace

  • This course is a primer on wind tunnels and wind tunnel testing, primarily for aviation applications. The course considers these aspects from both the client side and the facility side, underpinned by a focus on cost and data quality. Numerous examples are provided.
  • All students will receive an AIAA Certificate of Completion at the end of the course.


This short course is designed to provide the ‘big picture” of wind tunnel testing best practices used in the industry and government laboratories in support of aircraft design, development, and certification. The course is delivered from two perspectives, one from the facility side in terms of furnishing high-quality and productive facilities with broad capabilities, and the other from the client side who uses these facilities to execute aircraft performance, icing, and stability & control wind tunnel testing, gathering crucial data to support aircraft development. The course is focused on transonic and low-speed testing. The course also discusses non-aeronautical applications of wind tunnel testing such as surface vehicles and civil engineering structures.


  • Understand the genesis of wind tunnels as applied to the aviation industry
  • Understand the cycle of aircraft development programs and how industry uses wind tunnel tests to support such development
  • Wind tunnel calibrations, instrumentation, model supports, measurements
  • Gain an appreciation of the broad types of wind tunnel tests
  • Understand data reduction and analysis
  • Learn to translate wind tunnel data into parameters supporting aircraft design and development decisions
  • A review of best practices and pitfalls associated with wind tunnel testing
  • A broad exposure to non-aeronautical wind tunnels and testing approaches

The course is ideal for attendees who are or will be involved in the planning, design, and execution of wind tunnel tests for aircraft, as well as for individuals who manage, support, and develop major wind tunnel facilities. Graduate students using wind tunnels as part of their research would also benefit from this course. The course is a broad overview and it best suited to those with less than ten years’ experience in the field.

Type of Course: Instructor-Led Short Course
Course Level: Fundamentals - Intermediate
Course Length: 3 days
AIAA CEU's available: Yes

This course is also available on-demand. Register here.

1.0 A Wind Tunnel Primer (SZ)

  • History

  • Low-speed facilities

  • High-speed facilities

  • Pressurized facilities

  • Cryogenic facilities

  • Specialized Facilities

  • Security and Productivity

2.0 Wind Tunnel Test Types (SZ/HS)

  • Flow Characteristics

  • Performance

  • Stability & Control

  • Ice Shapes

  • Ground Effects

  • Powered Testing

  • Stores Clearance

  • Dynamic Stability

  • Icing

  • CFD Validation with Model in the WT

  • Acoustic

  • Aeroelastic

  • Rotorcraft

3.0 The Aircraft Design Process (HS)

  • Design Phases and Exit Gates

  • A/C General Configuration Selection

  • A/C Performance & Sizing Design Drivers

  • A/C Stability and Control & Sizing Design Drivers

  • Other A/C Design Drivers

  • The Role of Wind Tunnel Testing

4.0 The Wind Tunnel Toolkit (SZ)

  • Model Support and Mounts

  • Quantified Flow

  • Wind Tunnel Measurement Techniques

  • Measurement Quality

  • Staff

5.0 Wind Tunnel Model Design and Construction Requirements (HS/SZ)

  • Wind Tunnel Selection

  • Model Scaling

  • Model Instrumentation

  • Model Structural Design Requirements

  • Model Build-up

6.0 Data Reduction and Corrections (SZ/HS)

  • Reduction to Coefficients

  • Boundary Corrections

  • Tare and Interference Corrections

  • Power Effects Correction

  • Reynolds Number Correction

7.0 Assessment of Aircraft Aerodynamic Characteristics (HS)

  • Aircraft Drag Polars

  • Longitudinal Stability

  • Lateral/Directional Stability

  • Control Surface Effectiveness

  • Trim Conditions

  • Maximum Lift & Stall Characteristics

  • High-speed Buffet Boundaries

  • Incorporation to Flight Simulation

8.0 Lessons Learned (HS/SZ)

9.0 Non-aeronautical Wind Tunnels and Testing Approaches (SZ)

  • Atmospheric Boundary Layer

  • Boundary Layer Wind Tunnels

  • Scaling Considerations

  • Ground-based Structures

  • Surface Vehicles


Steve Zan joined the Aerodynamics Laboratory of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in 1984 after graduating from Engineering Science at U of Toronto. He obtained a PhD in aeronautical engineering from the University of Cambridge in 1990. In his thirty-two-year career he has become a leading expert on subsonic wind tunnel testing, having applied his knowledge to commercial aircraft development programs, to launch and recovery of rotorcraft from ships, and to wind loading of some of the world’s major structures. Dr. Zan was appointed Director of Aerodynamics at NRC in 2006 and retired from that position in 2016.

His academic credentials include a Research Fellowship at Darwin College, Cambridge (1990), an appointment as an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool (2006) and an appointment as an Adjunct Professor at Carleton University (2004- 2010). He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Journal from 2007 to 2013 and is an Associate Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute.

Hany Sadek was a Senior Engineering Advisor at Bombardier Aerospace where he was involved in the design, integration, wind tunnel testing, flight testing and certification of several Bombardier aircraft development programs. He has a M.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Toronto in 1983 and a B.Sc. in Aeronautical Engineering from Cairo University in 1974.

He has over 35 years experience as a Flight Sciences Engineer and continues to be active in aircraft development projects and instructing on aircraft design and civil certification flight test. He is a Design Approval Representative (DAR) with Transport Canada, Flight Test Analyst (Aircraft Performance and Stability and Control).


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