About this online course


An overview of aerodynamics of rotors, with emphasis on Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine rotors.

Rotor and wake aerodynamics are key to many applications such as helicopter and propeller rotors in transport and wind turbines for electricity generation. But rotors have a tendency to generate three-dimensional unsteady aerodynamic phenomena that are complex both to understand and to model.

For anyone working in the development and production of helicopter or wind turbine blades, this course is invaluable. It will deliver a depth of knowledge of the science and an ability to apply the technology that will enhance the careers of those already in the industry and the prospects of those wishing to enter it.

The course focuses on the following topics:

  • Momentum theory applied to rotor simulation and design and potential flow models for rotors
  • Airfoil aerodynamics
  • Unsteady aerodynamics
  • Aeroacoustics
  • Wake aerodynamic

After successfully completing the course, you will be able to:

  • design or source models which can represent the aerodynamics of different rotor configurations
  • appraise different models and critique their suitability
  • analyze complex rotor flows (rotors in yaw, wind farms, etc.)
  • identify and summarize the main fluid phenomena and evaluate their interaction
  • integrate different models to analyze the flow and combine the different models, evaluating their limitations and overlap
  • design a rotor from an aerodynamic perspective

Modelling can be carried out in any programming language, for example MATLAB, C, or Python.


To effectively conceptualize and design a rotor, it is necessary to combine the fundamental and modeling perspectives of the rotor. In this course, we provide an overview of the phenomena in the aerodynamics of rotors, with special emphasis on Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine rotors. Propellers, vertical axis (crossflow) wind turbine rotors and helicopter rotors will also be addressed, but in less detail.

There will be hands on introductions to the different computational models used nowadays to analyze the aerodynamics of rotors, with a focus on vortex models.

The course includes:

  • An introduction to rotary wing aerodynamics with applications in aircraft, propulsion, fans and wind turbines.
  • A discussion of conservation laws, actuator disk/momentum theory and limitations.
  • An examination of helicopter rotor vertical flight and "windmill brake" state. How to calculate figure of merit.
  • Understanding the Betz optimum for wind turbines and lift and drag devices and the blade element momentum method.
  • "Tip" correction methods, correction for finite number of blades and heavily loaded rotors are examined.
  • The aerodynamic characteristics of airfoils for rotor applications and the properties of pitch and stall controlled wind turbines are explored as a precursor to a wind turbine rotor blade design exercise.
  • There is a study of vortex line methods, vortex wake structure, Frozen and free wakes and vortex core modeling. These are followed by the exploration of vortex panel methods, advanced wake models and the acceleration potential method.
  • Detailed study of rotor near wake structure, experimental wake velocities and wake vorticity structures.
  • Examination of 3D effects, stall delay, yawed flow and dynamic inflow and autogiro and helicopter rotor aerodynamics in forward flight.
  • Unsteady aerodynamics and dynamic stall effects, the effects of tower shadow and wind shear and Theodorsen's Theory.
  • Vertical axis wind turbine rotors and the Voight-Schneider propeller
  • Effects of inflow turbulence intensity on blade loads and near and far wake structure
  • A study of wind farm aerodynamics looking at rotor-wake interaction, single and multiple wakes and the effects on loads and performance.

Video Lectures and Online Office Hours

The lectures of this course are broadcasted live online. Live attendance is possible but not required - the videos will be available around an hour after the lecture which can be watched later. In addition, there will be online office hours with the instructor on a weekly basis, which are also optional. 


Students will develop and program different aerodynamic models currently used in industry, and apply them to analyse relevant rotor operations.

Literature and Study Material

Course lectures - students can download the course lectures, background material and assignments from the accompanying e-learning platform. This e-learning platform will also be used extensively for submitting exercises and response to students.

Recommended literature - the recommended literature for each chapter will be indicated in the course lectures.


Continuous assessment through individual online assignments, three group assignments and a final exam via online Proctoring.

Date of proctored exam: To be announced.

Date of resit: To be announced.



If you successfully complete your online course you will be awarded with a TU Delft certificate.

This certificate will state that you were registered as a non-degree-seeking student at TU Delft and successfully completed the course. The certificate will also indicate the number of ECTS credits this course is equal to (4 ECTS) when this course is taken as part of a degree program at the university.

If you decide that you would like to apply to the full Master's program in Aerospace Engineering, you will need to go through the admission process as a regular MSc student. If you are admitted, you can then request an exemption for this course that you completed as a non-degree-seeking student. The Board of Examiners will evaluate your request and will decide whether or not you are exempted.


General admission to this course

Required prior knowledge

  • A relevant BEng or BSc degree in a subject closely related to the content of the course or specialized program in question, such as aerospace engineering, aeronautical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering or (applied) physics.
  • If you do not meet these requirements because you do not have a relevant Bachelor's degree but you have a Bachelor's degree from a reputable institution and you think you have sufficient knowledge and experience to complete the course, you are welcome to apply, stating your motivation and reasons for admission. The faculty of aerospace engineering will decide whether you will be admitted based on the information you have provided. Appeal against this decision is not possible.

Expected prior knowledge
In addition to the entry requirements mentioned above, prior knowledge of the topic is necessary in order to complete this course. For admission purposes, TU Delft will not ask you for proof of this prior knowledge, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the sufficient knowledge, obtained through relevant work experience or prior education.

To view the essential background knowledge, please check your knowledge against the learning objectives of these comparable TU Delft courses:

  • Applied Aerodynamics or else Fluid Dynamics
  • If you do not have experience with MATLAB but with other programming language, you can still follow the course, however it is recommended to allocate additional time for mastering it.

Expected Level of English
English is the language of instruction for this online course. If your working language is not English or you have not participated in an educational program in English in the past, please ensure that your level of proficiency is sufficient to follow the course. TU Delft recommends an English level equivalent to one of the following certificates (given as an indication only; the actual certificates are not required for the admission process):

  • TOEFL score 90+ (this is an internet-based test)
  • IELTS (academic version) overall Band score of at least 6.5
  • University of Cambridge: "Certificate of Proficiency in English" or "Certificate in Advanced English"

Admission process

In order to complete your admission process you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • a CV which describes your educational and professional background (in English)
  • a copy of your passport or ID card
  • a copy of relevant transcripts and diplomas


If you have any questions about this course or the TU Delft online learning environment, please visit our Help & Support page.

Start Admission

  • Starts: Feb 12, 2024
  • Fee: €1000
  • Group fee: contact us
  • Admission open until: Feb 05, 2024
  • Length: 17 weeks
  • Effort: 5 - 6 hours per week

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