Flight Simulation

Lecture: Wednesday, 17.00-19.00 (Sal 139),
Exercise: Wednesday, 19.00-21.00 (Sal 107)
First lecture is on 08.10.2014. Students are expected to attend the lectures and the exercises.


You must know basics of differential calculus, linear algebra, mechanics, and computer graphics. You must be fluent in C++. This is a serious course, which involves a lot of mathematics!


First five lectures: Differential equations. Numerical methods for solving differential equations. Order of a numerical method. Runge-Kutta Methods. We apply RK methods to orbits, Lagrange points, and rocket trajectories. Analytic solutions of systems of linear differential equations. Qualitative behavior of solutions.

Next two lectures: Basics of mechanics. The notions of mass center, torque (moment), and momentum. Definition of rigid body. Derivation of laws for rigid body movement.

Two lectures: Properties of airfoils. Typical lift/drag curves. Notion of aerodynamic center, and its importance for stability. Theory of longitudinal stability. Kutta-Joukowski law: Lift = Uniform Flow X Circulation.

One/two lectures: Application of rigid-body laws to airplanes. Theory of stability in three dimensions. The four stability modes. How to enhance stability with automatic controls. (Autopilots.)

One lecture: Representation of orientation by quaternions. Role of quaternions in simulation and computer graphics.

One lecture: Detecting contacts with the ground or other objects. There exist collisions and there exist controlled ground contacts. In order to be able to simulate landings and take offs, one need to detect when the airplane touches the ground, in which way it touches the ground, and what forces these contacts create.

One lecture: Modelling of wheels.

SFML (Simple and Fast Multimedia Library)

I use SFML as Window Manager, and as interface to OpenGL. SMFL can be obtained from here . You need version 2.0 or higher. Installing SFML in Ubuntu is easy, because it has the correct version in the package manager. Unfortunately, Debian still has version 1.6. The differences are not big, but they are irritating, so try to get version 2.0 or later.

Open GL

SFML supports computer graphics through OpenGL. The homepage of Andrzej Lukaszewski contains a lot of pointers to openGL. The Red Book used to be the main source for learning OpenGL. It is outdated, because the standard commands are deprecated, and one should use shading language. Even when the commands in the Red Book are outdated, the algorithms are still valid, so it is still useful to look at the first 5 sections.



Pictures of Excursion to Dresden