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Personal profile

Research interests


Dr Cleaver is a Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. David was awarded a first class MEng in Aerospace Engineering in 2007 and PhD in experimental unsteady aerodynamics in 2011. On graduation he took up a Post-Doctoral Research position on grants for the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research and US Office of Naval Research. In 2012 he was awarded a Lectureship, becoming a Senior Lecturer in 2018.

David is passionate about all forms of flight with a particular emphasis on fluid dynamics. He started learning to fly at age 14 and since 2012 has helped create and lead Team Bath Drones to inspire future generations about the exciting potential for unmanned flight. In 2019, David became one of the founding Directors of the University spinout 3UG Autonomous Systems Ltd. This is an innovative startup devoted to commercialisation of the probabilistic risk approach to integrate drones into airspace through risk quantification, minimisation and advanced collision avoidance. 



David's primary research field is Unsteady Aerodynamics. This is an exciting and novel research area which attempts to move beyond classic 'steady-state' aerodynamics so as to improve the efficiency of all forms of fluid dynamic device, from aircraft to gas turbines. In essence, all aero/ fluid dynamic problems are actually unsteady (variation with time) aerodynamic problems, but are usually assumed to be steady (constant with time). This gap in understanding not only leads to inaccuracy but also lost opportunities. He currently works on EPSRC projects with Airbus, Siemens and computational researchers at the University of Southampton to exploit the opportunities of unsteady aerodynamics. 

In addition, he is part of a small but fast growing and dynamic group investigating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). In particular development and application of the probabilistic risk approach for UAS. The findamental aspects of research are undertaken under the auspices of the Unviersity, while the commercial aspects that are at higher TRL are undertaken by the spinout: 3UGAS.



Willing to supervise PhD

Unsteady Aerodynamics of Wings in Extreme Conditions
Probabilistic Autonomy for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

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Research Output

Dynamic Deployment of a Minitab for Aerodynamic Load Control

Heathcote, D., Gursul, I. & Cleaver, D., 31 Jan 2020, In : AIAA Journal of Aircraft. 57, 1, p. 41-61

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
13 Downloads (Pure)

Volumetric Velocimetry Measurements of Purge-Mainstream Interaction in a 1-Stage Turbine

Carvalho Batista Soares De Figueiredo, A. J., Schreiner, N., Mesny, A., Pountney, O., Scobie, J., Li, Y. S., Cleaver, D. & Sangan, C., 14 Jan 2020, (Accepted/In press) Proceedings of ASME Turbo Expo 2020: Turbomachinery Technical Conference and Exposition. GT2020-14307

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Aerodynamic Loads Alleviation Using Mini-tabs

Author: Heathcote, D., 29 Jun 2017

Supervisor: Cleaver, D. (Supervisor) & Gursul, I. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Aerodynamics Of Biplane And Tandem Wings At Low Reynolds Numbers

Author: Jones, R., 6 May 2016

Supervisor: Gursul, I. (Supervisor) & Cleaver, D. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Distributed Actuation and Control for Morphing Structures

Author: Lai, G., 13 Dec 2017

Supervisor: Plummer, A. (Supervisor) & Cleaver, D. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Flow Control for Loads Control

Author: Al-Battal, N., 13 Feb 2019

Supervisor: Gursul, I. (Supervisor) & Cleaver, D. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Low Reynolds number flow control through small-amplitude high-frequency motion

Author: Cleaver, D., 1 Sep 2011

Supervisor: Gursul, I. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD