The instability of a viscous liquid jet surrounded by a swirling air stream subject to a 3-D disturbance is predicted by a linear stability model. The effect of flow conditions, fluid properties and nozzle geometry on the disintegration of the liquid jet are investigated by conducting a parametric study. It is observed that the relative velocity between the liquid and gas phases promotes the interfacial aerodynamic instability. The predicted range of wave numbers in which asymmetric modes have higher growth rates than the axisymmetric mode and dominate the instability agrees very well with experimental data. The density ratio significantly enhances the instability as does the axial Weber number. Liquid viscosity inhibits the disintegration process and damps higher helical modes more significantly than the axisymmetric mode. It is observed that air swirl has a stabilizing effect on the liquid jet.