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Unit information: Aerospace Commerce, Operations and Ethics in 2020/21

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Unit name Aerospace Commerce, Operations and Ethics
Unit code AENGM0070
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Lieven
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Aerospace Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


To introduce students to the infrastructure of the air transport industry, commercial and regulatory considerations in aircraft operations, and also highlight contrasts between military and civil operations and other related topics. The unit will provide a focus for discussion concerning some operational issues arising from other units studied during the Aerospace Engineering degree course, such as Aeronautics, Design Project, etc

The most challenging part of the course will be the requirement for students to reflect on how commercial imperatives influence ethical judgement. This will be taught from a basis of establishing the commercial and operational imperatives in the civil and defence sector and aligning them with increasing awareness of aspects of sustainbility, autonomy and data security.


Note: the following list is provided without prejudice and should not be interpreted as prescriptive, inclusive or exclusive. It is provided as an indicator of broad areas relating to relevant topics which will be adjusted according to current practice, availability of staff and contemporaneous events (see examples under Assessment Details item 1).

Lecture topics:
• Introduction to the airline industry
• Airline economics
• Airline costs (incl. AEA DOC estimation)
• Regulation/deregulation
• Marketing & product, demand and forecasting
• Low Cost airlines – business models
• Airline Safety
• Air Traffic Management
• Noise
• Failures and Reliability
• Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO)
• Aviation Sustainability
• Ethics of Civil Aviation (introduction - see guest seminars below for additional material)

Guest Seminars, agreed by invitation, subject to availability:
• Defence operations from “lecture theatre to in-theatre” (Prof Richard Markeivitz - DSTL)
• Regulation of Autonomous aerospace vehicles (Prof Richard Markeivitz - DSTL)
• Ethics of autonomy (Prof James Ladyman – UoB, Department of Philosophy)
• Air transport and its effect on human migration (Prof Sir Malcolm Evans, UoB, Department of Law and Chair of the UN Court of Human Rights)
• Airport operations (David Lees – CEO, Bristol Airport - TBC)

Intended learning outcomes

After successful completion of this unit students will be able to:-

  • Participate constructively indiscussions and engage in policy formation relating to the fundamental commercial and economic regulatory matters governing international airline operations
  • comprehend the fundamental differences between military and civil operations
  • appreciate the engineering drivers and implications of various economic and environmental issues
  • comprehend and defend positions on contemporary aviation issues
  • apply ethical principles in relation to transport of goods and people

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, which may include lectures, practical activities supported by drop-in sessions, problem sheets and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Details

100% portfolio

Reading and References

The primary text for a large portion of the unit is:

• Doganis, R. Flying Off Course: The Economics of International Airlines, 4th ed., Taylor & Francis Ltd., 2010. [essential reading] A variety of editions of this book are available in the library ( and Search: Doganis, Rigas)

Also recommended:
• Doganis, R. The Airline Business, 2nd ed., Routledge, 2005
• Belobaba, Odoni & Barnhart The Global Airline Industry Wiley-Blackwell 2009
• Wells, Alexander T. Air Transportation, A Management Perspective, 4th ed., Wadsworth, Publishing Company, 1999.
• Roskam: Airplane design Methodology
• Vallor: Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future worth Wanting
• Harris, Pritchard and Rabins: Engineering Ethics