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Airbus funded PhD project: Unsteady aerodynamic load control using dynamic pop-up spoilers

Department of Mechanical Engineering

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Prof Ismet Gursul , Dr Zhijin Wang No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
Bath United Kingdom Aerospace Engineering Dynamics Fluid Mechanics Mechanical Engineering

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project commencing in October 2021.

Funding is available to candidates who qualify for ‘Home’ fee status. Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the rules governing fee status have changed and, therefore, candidates from the EU/EEA are advised to check their eligibility before applying. Please see the Funding Eligibility section below for more information.

Project team: Professor Ismet Gursul & Dr Zhijin Wang

Informal queries should be directed to Prof Ismet Gursul - [Email Address Removed]


Control of unsteady aerodynamic loads due to gusts, turbulence, and maneuvers has significant impact on aircraft performance and design such as allowing for a relaxation in the structural requirements, reducing airframe mass, and improving passenger experience. It has been suggested that the application of gust and maneuver load alleviation technologies to a civil transport aircraft could reduce operating costs and fuel burn significantly. Unsteady aerodynamic loads can be highly time dependent and the corresponding flow fields are highly three-imensional. The bulk of studies on aerodynamic load control technologies in the past was however of two-dimensional flows and the frequency response of the load alleviation strategies was not completely understood.

Recent studies indicate that pop-up spoiler is a novel technology that shows promising load alleviation capability. The working mechanism of this technology is to induce flow separation near the wing leading edge, with a significant reduction of the local lift. However, all the previous studies investigated the pop-up spoiler in two-dimensional flows and for rigid wings. This fully funded Airbus PhD project will investigate further aspects, including finite-span popup spoilers, yawed freestream disturbances, swept wings, effect of wing aeroelasticity by means of wind tunnel and water tunnel experiments. Various control strategies, including distributed spoilers on both steady/dynamic rigid/aeroelastic wings, as well as self-actuated spoilers will be studied by flow visualization, force measurements, deformation measurements, particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurements, and volumetric 3-component velocimetry (V3V) measurements. The project will lay a foundation for developing a novel aerodynamic load control approach for the next generation of civil transport aircraft. The proposed research will be multidisciplinary through integration of fundamental fluid dynamics and aerodynamics, control engineering and aerospace engineering.

Candidate Requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.


Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Expected start date: 4 October 2021

Funding Eligibility:

In order to be considered for a studentship, you must qualify as a ‘Home’ student. The UK Government has not yet published the relevant Fee Regulations for courses commencing in 2021/22; however, our current understanding is that the main categories of students likely to qualify for ‘Home’ fees are (subject to confirmation by the UK Government):

·        UK nationals (meeting residency requirement*)

·        Irish nationals resident in the UK/Ireland since at least September 2018

·        EU/EEA applicants with settled or pre-settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme (meeting residency requirement*)

·        Applicants with indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK (meeting residency requirement*)

*Residency requirement: in most cases applicants must have lived in the UK, EU, EEA or Switzerland continuously since September 2018.

EU/EEA citizens who live outside the UK are unlikely to be eligible for ‘Home’ fees and funding.

Up-to-date information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage and on the UKCISA website

Funding Notes

This fully funded Airbus studentship includes ‘Home’ tuition fees, a stipend (£15,609 per annum, 2021/22 rate) and research/training expenses (£1,000 per annum) for up to 3.5 years.

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