Software for Aerodynamics and Aircraft Design (W.H. Mason, Virginia Tech)

This page contains various programs that may prove useful to aerodynamics and design class students. These are mostly old-fashioned codes without graphical user interfaces. In fact this was originally all FORTRAN source code. However, I’ve recently started adding executables since the FORTRAN source files typically can’t be used by current undergraduates. In addition, some methods are given as MATLAB m-files. Another source of classic aerodynamics codes is the CD sold by Ralph Carmichael, Public Domain Aeronautical Software (PDAS). Important Note: Many of these programs require a text file as input. DO NOT embed tabs in these files. ALSO, the location of the input on each line is critical. The input instructions are often given as “cards”, from the days when the text files were physically a deck of computer cards. The spacing definitions use FORTRAN terminalogy. Do yourself a favor and learn what this means. For example, F10 means a real number (with a decimal point) taking 10 spaces. Study the sample input files for examples of how this works (in fact, ALWAYS run the sample case before doing anything else with these codes). For pointers on running codes, read the chapter from my Applied Computational Aerodynamics notes, Computers, Codes, and Engineering (a pdf file). In some cases I have now added links to sites located elsewhere, where key codes are available. Other useful online Java-based programs are available at www.engapplets.vt.edu. Comments or questions? Contact me at whmason@vt.edu. A Finnish translation of this page is also available. Last modified: May 3, 2012.

Current Software

Aerocal Pak #1 Airfoil generation: NACA 4&5 Series*
stand alone NACA 1135* Airfoil generation: NACA 6&6A Series*
Standard atmosphere Planform Analysis
Nicolai's sizing program(s)* Propulsion
Takeoff Distance Calculation* Landing Gear Integration
Simple Lifting Line Theory* Skin Friction/Form Factor Drag*
Induced drag Vortex Lattice Methods
Airfoil Aerodynamics Supersonic Aerodynamics
Stability and Control coming soon: our Matlab-based Mission Program
* - executable available


Aerocal Pak #1

This software is a BASIC program that implements the old Aerocal Pak #1, Basic Aerodynamic Relations. It has the NACA 1135 tables, Prandtl-Meyer angle and inverse, properties of oblique shocks, the Rayleigh/Fanno line table and the 1976 standard atmosphere. Originally written for a programmable calculator, the code is in QuickBASIC, and runs as is on a Mac with QuickBASIC. A one line change is required to run it on an IBM type PC. The file is standard ascii text.

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stand alone NACA 1135

These codes compute the compressible flow functions given in NACA 1135, plus a few more useful relations. These are executables that replace the NACA 1135 portions of Aerocal Pak#1 above, which doesn't run on many computers anymore.

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Airfoil generation: NACA 4&5 Series

This is an interactive FORTRAN program that allows the user to construct airfoils using the NACA 4 digit or modified 4 digit airfoil thickness distributions and the NACA 4 digit, 5 digit or 6- and 6A series camber lines. A variety of output options are available on the screen. It can also create a file for use as input to airfoil analysis programs. This file is in the so-called "Jameson format". The file is standard ascii text. It should run using any FORTRAN compiler.The theoretical description of the equations used is available as a pdf file which is actually an Appendix to my Applied Computational Aerodynamics Notes.

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Airfoil generation: NACA 6&6A Series

This is a FORTRAN program that allows the user to obtain (approximately) the NACA 6 digit or 6A digit airfoils. The program was written at NASA by Cuyler Brooks and Charles Ladson. It appears to be considered to be in the public domain. The file is standard ascii text. It should run using any FORTRAN compiler. The theoretical description of the equations for the camber lines is available as a pdf file which is actually an Appendix to my Applied Computational Aerodynamics Notes. The thickness distribution of these airfoils is not described by a single equation.

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Planform Analysis

This software includes a BASIC program that implements the old Aerocal Pak #2, Basic Geometry for Aerodynamics. I put it up for the little planform and wing analysis programs, which I find still find useful, although today it should be on a spreadsheet. It also generates the shapes for several of the classic bodies of revolution, and has the BASIC (original) version of the FORTRAN program FOILGEN given above for the NACA airfoils. Originally written for a programmable calculator, and then translated to Applesoft, the code is in QuickBASIC, and runs as is on a Mac with QuickBASIC. A one line change is required to run it on an IBM type PC. The file is standard ascii text. The theoretical description is available as a pdf file which is actually an Appendix to my Applied Computational Aerodynamics Notes. An executable of a FORTRAN program in also posted here, together with the manual, sample input and sample output.

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Nicolai's sizing program(s)

I've included four files here. They implement Nicolai's aircraft sizing algorithm in QuickBASIC and more recently, REALbasic. Acsize, provides the size, while the second code, acsweep, covers a range of takeoff gross weights, showing the empty weight required and available. They should run on either Mac or IBM type PCs. In the QuickBASIC versions, data values are set in the program, with the hope that the users will look at the code and see what is going on. The files are standard ascii text. The REALbasic programs are executables for both the Mac and PC. The only modification to Nicolai's notation is a supersonic mission leg.

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Simple Lifting Line Theory

This is an interactive FORTRAN program that solves the classical Prandtl lifting line theory using the monoplane equation. The file is standard ascii text. It should run using any FORTRAN compiler.

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Standard atmosphere routines

Originally a FORTRAN subroutine (actually TI-59 and then Applesoft), a MATLAB file is also provided. stdatmtest.m is the driving script file for the MATLAB function file. The subroutine can be used in other programs. It is the same routine used in Pak #1 above. The units are listed in the subroutine header. A sample main program is included to illustrate the use of the program, and it should run using any FORTRAN compiler, or in MATLAB. Note that the MATLAB version was originally converted from FORTRAN by Paul Buller.

The following web-based standard atmosphere calculators have been suggested by students:

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Skin Friction/Form Factor Drag estimation

This program can be used to estimate the basic friction drag of an airplane. It is from Mason's Applied Computational Aerodynamics Class, and the acrobat manual is App. D.5 of the class notes. It should run using any FORTRAN compiler. Along with the manual and code, a sample input and the resulting sample output are provided. In November of 2002 an executable version has been added.