Brian M. Yutko, PhD

EducationBrian Yutko

  • B.Sc., Aerospace Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, 2008
  • M.S., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011
  • Ph.D., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013

Fields: Aircraft Performance; Fuel Efficiency Standards; Air Transportation Systems

Lab Role: Research Engineer


I’m a Research Engineer in the International Center for Air Transportation (ICAT) and collaborate very closely with the Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment. My work is focused on developing more efficient aircraft designs and air transportation systems. In my capacity as Research Engineer, I work with Prof. John Hansman to execute a diverse research portfolio and mentor students.

Throughout my career at MIT I’ve worked on all aspects air vehicles: from designing, building, and flight testing prototype aircraft to informing international policy. One of my longest running research efforts (started in 2009 and still ongoing) is the development of fuel efficiency certification standards for commercial aircraft. My early work in this area evaluated methods to robustly measure and certify aircraft fuel efficiency, and currently I am investigating the system wide impacts of certification standards and other potential fuel reduction approaches. My technical and policy work has resulted in significant contributions to aviation environmental policy through the ongoing development of an ICAO commercial aircraft certification standard.

Beyond the fuel efficiency standard, my research focuses on the simultaneous design and optimization of aircraft and the complex systems in which they operate. I am particularly interested in developing robust, fast methods for predicting aircraft performance in large-scale simulations. I enjoy communicating my technical results in these areas to the public. I’ve had my work featured in National Geographic, Popular Science, FiveThirtyEight, and other mass media publications.

I currently hold a joint appointment with Aurora Flight Sciences as Aurora’s Aircraft Systems Research Lead. I’m Aurora’s internal Principal Investigator and Program Manager for the D8 program. This program seeks to advance the ultra-efficient D8 aircraft concept towards actual use in the commercial air transportation system by designing, building, and ground/flight testing prototype vehicles.

While a graduate student at MIT, my PhD committee was comprised of John Hansman (chair/advisor), Cynthia Barnhart, Philippe Bonnefoy, Mark Drela, and Aleksandra Mozdzanowska.

Before MIT, I worked as a mechanical design engineer at the NASA Kennedy Space Center. My work included mechanical design for the Space Shuttle, expendable launch-vehicles, and ground support equipment. I attended Penn State for my undergraduate engineering training, which is close to my home in the state of Pennsylvania. I grew up in a small anthracite coal-mining village called Buck Mountain located in Schuylkill County, Northeast Pennsylvania, USA.

Outside of the office I am a pilot, as well as an avid athlete and traveler. I was captain of the MIT ultimate frisbee team while in graduate school, and I currently compete on a rock climbing team in the Boston area. I enjoy going on motorcycle trips to explore interesting countries and I’m always planning the next adventure.


Selected Publications

“Explore: Light Flights,” Jensen, L., Yutko, B., National Geographic Magazine, April 2015.

“How to Convert Carry-Ons to Carbon Savings,” Jensen, L., Yutko, B., Popular Science Magazine, January 2015.

“Fending for Fuel,” Jensen, L., Yutko, B., APEX Magazine: page 24-25, December 2014.

“Fueling the Burn,” Jensen, L., Yutko, B., APEX Magazine. Web.

“Why Budget Airlines Could Soon Charge You to Use the Bathroom.” Jensen, L., Yutko, B., FiveThirtyEight. 30 June 2014. Web.

“The Impact of Aircraft Design Reference Mission on Fuel Efficiency in the Air Transportation Network,” Yutko, B., PhD Thesis, MIT, January 2014.

“Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Emission Metric Systems for an Aircraft Certification Standard”, Lim, D., Yutko, B., and Bonnefoy, P., et. al., Journal of Aircraft, 2014.

“CO2 Emission Metrics for Commercial Aircraft Certification: A National Airspace System Perspective.” PARTNER Project 30 Team, Report No. PARTNER-COE-2012-002., 2012,

“Exploring the General Aviation Opportunity Space Created by the Potential Phase-Out of 100LL Fuel,” Yutko, B., et al., in preparation.

“Approaches to Representing Aircraft Fuel Efficiency Performance for the Purpose of a Commercial Aircraft Certification Standard,” Yutko, B., M.S. Thesis, MIT, International Center for Air Transportation, June 2011.

“Transitioning the U.S. Air Transportation System to Higher Fuel Costs,” Morrison, JKD., Yutko, B., Hansman, R., Transportation Research Board, 2011.

“An Investigation of the Potential Implications of a CO2 Emission Metric on Future Aircraft Designs,” Kirby, M., Yutko, B., Bonnefoy, P. Hansman, R., 27th International Congress of the Aeronautical Sciences, 2010.

“Inline Electrical Connector Mate/Demate Pliers,” Yutko, B. et. al., NASA Tech Briefs, August 2010,

“Optimizing Spacecraft Reorientation Maneuvers Using a Pseuspectral Method,” Yutko, B., Melton, R., Journal of Aerospace Engineering, Sciences and Applications, Jan-April 2010, Vol.II, No1.

“Conceptual Design of a Hybrid Lift Airship for Intra-regional Flexible Access Transport,” Agte, J., Gan, T., Kunzi, F., March, A., Sato, S., Suarez, B., & Yutko, B., 48th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting Including the New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition (p. 1391).