Modern aircraft are designed for the utmost in performance and safety as the penalty for any shortfalls in these areas is very heavy. Thus they incorporate many complex systems and subsystems each developed using advanced scientific concepts and manufacturing methods. Aircraft design is thus undertaken by a group of design engineers each with a specialized knowledge about a few subsystems but only a rough understanding of the whole airplane. This rough overall understanding of the concepts and principles based on which the airplane is organized is a vital element of a design engineer?s toolbox. It helps him perform his own specialized task such that it fits in the complete design seamlessly. This overall knowledge is not easily acquired from modern technical literature which is voluminous and primarily caters to special interest groups. This author has made an attempt to gather this knowledge and present it concisely so that it will serve as a broad general introduction to aircraft engineering. This material should be useful not only to fresh engineers entering the aeronautical industry but also to students in all the relevant branches of engineering. It is also likely to be of general interest to any scientifically inclined readers as a source of basic information in a number of aeronautical disciplines. The general philosophy adopted here is best summarized by the following quote from the Panchatantra:
Knowledge indeed is unlimited, but life is short and there are many obstacles to the acquisition of knowledge. Therefore one must grasp the essential knowledge leaving out much detail just as milk is extracted from a watery mixture by the swans.
This book should be useful not only to fresh engineers entering the aeronautical industry but also to students in all the relevant branches of engineering. It is also likely to be of general interest to any scientifically inclined reader as a source of basic information in a number of aeronautical disciplines.
SP Govinda Raju