Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: Airplane Design

Jan Roskam
Airplane Design
Ottawa KS: Roskam Aviation and Engineering Corporation, 1989
Category: Aerospace Engineering

Rating: 5-Stars

Jan Roskam's eight-volume compendium of Airplane Design calculations stands out as the ultimate reference set for conceptual and preliminary design, combining airplane development experience spanning decades in time and across multiple manufacturers.  As a reference source for design calculations, it is without parallel.

Nowhere else is there an airplane design reference as comprehensive as this, representing a collection of design and analysis techniques in virtually every aspect of airplane design and dynamics.  The set is divided into eight volumes as follows:

Part I, Preliminary Sizing of Airplanes
Part II, Preliminary Configuration Design and Integration of the Propulsion System
Part III, Layout Design of Cockpit, Fuselage, Wing and Empennage: Cutaways and Inboard Profiles
Part IV, Layout Design of Landing Gear and Systems
Part V, Component Weight Estimation
Part VI, Preliminary Calculation of Aerodynamic, Thrust and Power Characteristics
Part VII, Determination of Stability, Control and Performance Characteristics: FAR and Military Requirements
Part VIII, Airplane Cost Estimation: Design, Development, Manufacturing and Operating

I was first introduced to this remarkable resources decades ago, when I was the teaching assistant for a senior-level Airplane Design class at the University of Michigan.  The first two volumes of this set formed the textbooks for our course.  The balance of the set was employed in the follow-on class (for which I was also the teaching assistant): Advanced Airplane Design.

Over the years, I have repeatedly referred back to these texts.  Particularly in the vital areas of Stability and Control, Jan Roskam's publications are a must-have for the serious engineer.  It's all here.  How to estimate take-off distance.  How to estimate weights.  Sizing control surfaces.  This is the design reference for the serious airplane engineer - not the casual reader.  This is not the type of book that you pick-up and read, as if it were some novel, or history of aviation.  These books are meant to be used.  It's when you put these volumes into practice that they become truly exceptional.

So, for the casual aviation reader, who likes to read about the history of aviation or perhaps about the latest technical trend: this is not the book for you.  For the engineering professional however, there is no other resource that can compare to the breadth and depth of Jan Roskam's collection.

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