About this online course


To reduce the environmental footprint of the aviation sector we need to start a clean sky revolution. Discover the latest developments in this field –from airplane design, energy carriers, operations, to human behavior– and learn how you can play a role.

Sustainable aviation is a key area for climate action. In this course, we will introduce you to various aircraft technologies, and recent innovations and promising future developments in the field of aviation. All necessary mathematical and engineering concepts will explained.

We will start from the basics of how aircraft fly and how they impact the environment. You will gain present-day knowledge of technical solutions and possibilities of modern engineering to make aviation more sustainable.

Next, we will discuss solutions. you will learn about alternative propulsion methods, energy carriers (batteries, fuel cells) and novel aircraft designs (including the Flying V project at TU Delft, a new design for a highly energy-efficient and long-distance commercial aircraft.) We will also bust some common myths about the topics along the way, like why it is a very unpractical thought to simply cover up the entire aircraft with solar cells.

But the solutions presented will not cover just the technical aspects. You will discover the importance of the ecosystem surrounding aviation for its sustainability, including manufacturing and operations. The course will stimulate critical and creative thought about  the future of aviation and how you can be part of those solutions.

With its long history of research of aircraft design, operations and climate effects, the world-class experts from the The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft will guide you through this journey to sustainable aviation. The course will also include guest lectures from industry professionals from leading aviation companies such as Airbus.

“We need climate-neutral aviation. The challenges are enormous, but solutions must and will be found. Through this MOOC we want to share what we know, so that all of you can be part of this ‘clean sky revolution’.” – Henri Werij, Dean Faculty of Aerospace Engineering

What You'll Learn

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Recognize how the fundamentals of commercial air transport operations and the life cycle of aircraft impact the environment. 
  • Explain the inherent challenges in making aviation sustainable, and how these challenges stem from the principles of flight, propulsion, production and operation (there are no easy solutions!)
  • Present the current technological possibilities for making aviation more sustainable, how these possibilities can be implemented, and what their limitations are. 
  • Discuss solutions for reducing the environmental impact of aviation on both the personal and the larger scale. 

Parts of the lecture materials in this course build upon outputs from the research projects AHEAD (Advanced Hybrid Engines for Aircraft Development), funded by the European Union within the FP7-TRANSPORT Research Program (grant agreement ID: 284636);  and PARSIFAL (Prandtlplane Architecture for the Sustainable Improvement of Future Airplanes) funded by the European Union within the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program (Grant Agreement n.723149).

Watch sample video lectures


Course Syllabus

Week 0: Welcome

In the Welcome section of this course we will explain how the course is set up, how the EdX platform works and we will give you an opportunity to introduce yourself and find out who else is following this course.

Week 1: Aviation and Climate Change

In the first week of the MOOC, we will kick things off by taking a birds-eye look at aviation and climate change.

  • How do aircraft impact the environment
  • Current situation

Week 2: How do Aircraft Fly?

To understand how we can decrease aviation’s impact on the environment, you will first learn exactly how an aircraft is able to fly.

  • The physics of flight: Lift and weight, thrust and drag
  • Aircraft performance
  • How to propel an aircraft

Week 3: Propulsion and Energy Carriers

In this week, we will take a more detailed look at the elements of a propulsion system and the energy sources that drive them.

  • Elements of propulsion systems
  • Engine efficiency
  • Aircraft energy carriers: options and limitations
  • Sustainable aviation fuels

Week 4: Production and End of Life

Of course, there is more to an aircraft than flying it. In week 4 of the MOOC, we will discuss the lifecycle of the aircraft.

  • Lifecycle Assessment
  • Production of aircraft
  • During lifetime
  • Aircraft end of life

Week 5: Novel Aircraft Design and Climate Effects

As we near the end of the MOOC, there are two topics we want to touch upon in more detail: firstly, concepts for the aircraft of the future, and secondly, the actual impact of aircraft on climate.

  • Novel aircraft designs
  • Aircraft emissions and their effect on the atmosphere
  • Aircraft noise

Week 6: Operations and Conclusion

Lastly, we will consider aircraft and airline operations.

  • Airline planning
  • Air traffic management
  • Airport operations

Week 7: Conclusion and Final Assignment

Other instructors

Maurice Hoogreef
Assistant Professor, Flight Performance 

Bruno Santos
Assistant Professor, Air Transport and Operations 

Paul Roling
Lecturer, Air Transport Operations 

Roelof Vos
Assistant Professor Flight Performance

Mirjam Snellen
Professor Acoustics, Aerospace Engineering

Joris Melkert
Director of Education, Aerospace Engineering

Carmine Varriale
PhD candidate, Flight Performance and Propulsion


This is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that runs on edX.


None, however some introductory-level university calculus is used in the course.

  • Starts: Anytime (Self-Paced)
  • Free | Earn certificate for $50
  • Group fee: contact us
  • Length: Self-Paced
  • Effort: 4 - 5 hours per week / 6 weeks

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