The group of UL students pictured in Shannon with the Flying Classroom plane
Pictured with UL aeronautical engineering students on the runway at Shannon Airport were Robert Harrison, Captain of the National Flying Laboratory Centre, and Dr Simon Place, Lecturer and Course Presenter from Cranfield University
Monday, 24 April 2023

A large group of University of Limerick students have taken to the skies aboard a unique flying classroom to learn about aeronautical engineering in flight.

The 43 aeronautical engineering students from the School of Engineering at UL flew aboard The Flying Classroom recently, taking off and landing from Shannon Airport.

The Flying Classroom is a fully instrumented aircraft that allows students to learn about aerodynamics and flight dynamics as they fly.

It is equipped with a range of advanced instrumentation and sensors that allow students to measure and analyse the performance of the aircraft in real time.

The unique aircraft is operated by The National Flying Laboratory Centre (NFLC) based at Cranfield University in the UK, with whom UL have a long association.

Accompanying the students on the flight was Aeronautical Engineering Course Director Professor Trevor Younge who said: “In engineering, there are lots of things that we can teach in a classroom and there are lots of things that we can simulate for our students, but to appreciate the complex behaviours of an aircraft in flight, students need to be in the air.

“We were delighted to welcome Cranfield University back to Shannon, so that they could provide this unique learning experience for our students,” Professor Younge explained.

The UL students took six flights from Shannon Airport and the flight path brought them along the Clare and Galway coastline, to an area with little or no turbulence.

During the flight, they were able to apply the concepts they had learned in the classroom to a real-world setting and gain a deeper understanding of the principles of aeronautical engineering.

Speaking about her experience on board, fourth year Aeronautical Engineering student Mary O’Donnell said: “It was incredible to observe aeronautical engineering in action and see what we had learned in our Flight Mechanics module applied in real life. My favourite part was experiencing the different flight modes and flying under 2g!”

Professor Younge added: “This was a valuable and unforgettable experience for the students who learned about aerodynamics and flight dynamics in a practical and interactive way.”