Dr Xin Zhang holds the position of “Swire Professor of Aerospace Engineering” at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Xin Zhang holds a Ph.D degree in fluid mechanics from the Cambridge University, UK and B.Eng in aerospace engineering from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China. He is a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. 

Teaching Activities

MECH4630 Gas Turbines and Jet Propulsion

Research Interests

  • Aeroacoustics, in particular airframe and engine noise
  • Aerodynamics, including aircraft aerodynamics and racing car aerodynamics

To tackle the tough design, performance, engineering and environmental challenges in these two areas, he and his team have develop advanced analytical, numerical and experimental methods for Airbus. He also worked with RR.

Research Student Recruitment

PhDs and Research Fellowships in Aerodynamics and Aeroacoustics

Qualifications and background

Dr. Zhang conducts research and lectures in aerodynamics and aeroacoustics, in particular aircraft aerodynamics and noise. He has conducted experimental and computational research in the area of unsteady aerodynamics, ground effect aerodynamics, aeroacoustics, and aircraft noise. He is an authority in the area of aircraft noise including both airframe and propulsive unit noise. He performed research in its understanding, developed novel and accurate numerical schemes for its prediction, devised methods for noise attenuation, and designed and constructed predictive codes based on physics for noise prediction which are being used by industry.

His research over a period of 25 years led to the establishment of Airbus Aircraft Noise Technology Centre (ANTC) at Southampton in 2008 (see www.soton.ac.uk/antc ), which is a major centre of excellent in aircraft noise technology. The centre is the only Airbus university based technology centre in the world. ANTC works in the areas of airframe noise, engine noise, physics based aircraft noise models, computational aeroacoustics, aircraft interior noise modelling, sound transmission, and noise control, all with Airbus. Airbus, a company that produces around half of the world’s aircraft and employs more than 60,000 people across the EU, has integrated the outcomes of Zhang’s research into its key design processes. He has occupied the chair of Airbus Professor of Aircraft Engineering and served as the director of ANTC since 2008.

Xin Zhang has published over 200 papers including 95 archival papers. Xin Zhang has been a highly productive and effective educator, establishing the first MSc course in racing car aerodynamics in the world at Southampton. To date, he has supervised nearly 50 PhD/EngD students as main supervisor; these students currently hold diverse positions in academia, aerospace and automobile industries, government, and other sectors.

More detailed materials on qualification

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) reports aircraft noise as the most significant cause of public opposition to the expansion of airports and growth of air transport. It is more than simply an annoyance to residents near airports. According to the World Health Organization, it is an 'underestimated threat' that can cause short and long-term health problems. Its overall financial impact is estimated by the European Commission to lie between 0.2% and 2% of GDP, £3.1 billion for the UK alone at the lower estimate. Dr Zhang has conducted research using experimental, computational and analytical means. The collective research efforts have led to a number of prediction methods and design solutions for major noise devices, e.g. landing gears and high-lift devices. Landing gears had previously been designed with other considerations, not noise reduction. Zhang's team set out to investigate how landing gear noise could be reduced without compromising the aircraft's safety. In the past, aircraft manufacturers would have had to resort to empirical methods and testing through the use of wind tunnels to find out. It is a costly procedure, and one that can only be done at a late stage in the process – the landing gear has to be designed and built before it is tested. Zhang and his team developed a landing gear noise prediction method. The method allows designers to test radically different landing gear designs, in both shape and configuration
Dr Zhang and his team developed new high-order numerical schemes, acoustic boundary conditions, numerical methods such as adaptive mesh refinement and Fourier pseudo-spectral time-domain methods, acoustic liner modelling, high-order interface conditions and recently equations for efficient and stable computation of sound propagation for aircraft applications e.g. linearsied divergence equations. His team also developed highly efficient computing codes based on graphic processing units. A major feature of the research is their relevance and application in aircraft industry. The methods led to design and construction of new noise prediction codes used by industry. For example, noise targets also include exacting emissions reduction targets. These have forced aircraft and engine manufacturers to consider radical redesigns of their products, prompting renewed interest in contra-rotating open rotor designs. The game changing open rotor decision will rest on whether or not the engines comply with noise targets. Dr Zhang and his team developed codes to predict broadband noise and noise attenuation.
Dr Zhang and his research group has taken part in almost all major European and the UK research efforts on aircraft noise, TURBONOISECFD, DTI CAST1, DTI CAST2, DTI ANDANTE, TIMPAN, SYMPHONY, OPENAIR, CLEANSKY, and others. All of the above projects are conducted jointly with Airbus, (and in some cases with Rolls-Royce, and other major aerospace companies.)
In the area of propulsive noise computation, Dr Zhang developed computational aeroacoustic code (SotonCAA). In area of the time-domain propagation methods, he developed schemes, boundary conditions and efficient solutions for both tonal and broadband noise simulation. An example of impact is the placement of liner on engine bypass nozzle cone after the insight offered by his CAA computations of sound propagation in bypass duct (B Tester, Aeroacoustic lecture, Turbofan Noise Research - Reconciling Theory and Measurement, 20th AIAA/CEAS Aeroacoustics Conference, Aviation 2014, 16-20 June 2014, Atlanta, USA).
Dr Zhang and his team performed research into novel flow control methods for aircraft applications. These include plasma actuators for noise attenuation, active and passive means of flow and noise control, and novel control algorithms such as iterative learning control.
Dr Zhang conducted research into car aerodynamics and established ground effect aerodynamics for racing car as a serious academic discipline. Worked on wing and diffuser in ground effect aerodynamics, and rotating wheel aerodynamics. For the first time, leading research work led to classification of flow/force regimes in ground effect which, form current understanding in design process. This area of research formed Southampton submission and award of 2012 Queen's Prize in performance sport and engineering excellence. Research supported by leading teams, e.g. Honda, Penske, Tyrrell, BAR, Jaguar. Graduated PhDs who now lead F1 racing car designs in various companies. He also established the 1st MSc course in racing car aerodynamics in the world. In 2004, he was the only academic being invited to speak at the 1st Global Motorsports Congress. In 2005, he was the only academic to give a keynote talk on racing car aerodynamics at the 1st World Motorsports Symposium in London.

Dr. Zhang also conducted research in other, wide areas in aerodynamics, including cavity flow physics air jet vortex generators and vortex flow, sound transmission, amongst others. He established car/ground effect aerodynamics as an academic discipline at Southampton through a series of publications.