Aerospace & Mechanical
Engineering

AeroDesign Team Wins 2014 Design/Build/Fly

While the football team was in turmoil last fall, a group of AME students were busy designing and building preliminary versions of their entry for the 18th Annual Student Design/Build/Fly Competition.

AeroDesign Team 2014 at D/B/F competition USC AeroDesign Team assembled outside a hangar at Cessna Field. The Annual Student Design/Build/Fly Competition is sponsored by Cessna Aircraft Company, Raytheon Missile Systems, and the AIAA Foundation to "provide a real-world aircraft design experience for engineering students by giving them the opportunity to validate their analytic studies." Each year the DBF competition is based on different airplane performance goals, so each competition has a different set of design constraints and rules for scoring. This year's airplane was a Backcountry Rough Field Bush Plane powered by a 1.5 lb. battery. The flight competition consisted of 3 missions:

  1. The ferry flight—Fly the empty airplane as many laps as possible around the defined circuit in 4 minutes;
  2. The maximum load mission—Fly 3 laps carrying as many 1-lb. blocks as possible; and
  3. The Emergency Medical Mission—Carry 2 patients and 2 attendants (all represented by 1/2 lb. blocks) as fast as possible once around the circuit.

In addition, since this is a bush plane, each aircraft must taxi the length of a 40-ft. rough runway (corrugated roofing) steering around obstacles (2 x 4's on edge). Passing the taxi test is important because passing multiplies the rest of the score by 1, while failing applies a multiplier of 0.2.

The teams submitted written reports due about 6 weeks before the competition. The reports documented the design choices, test results, and manufacturing process leading to the airplane finally flown in competition. The teams' final scores would relect the quality of this written report as well as the results of the flight competition.

On April 11, 2014, D/B/F teams from around the world assembled at Cessna Field in Wichita, Kansas for 3 full days of competition. This year's event saw entries from 71 teams, representing 29 states and 15 countries, with about 700 people in attendance.

After 3 days of taxiing and flying, the points were totaled leaving the USC AeroDesign team with their airplane MiSChief comfortably on top with a score of 407.24, followed by University of California at Irvine (352.86), San Jose State University (326.37), and University of Ljubljana (Slovenia; 256.76).

Congratulations to AME's 2013-2014 AeroDesign Team on winning the 18th Annual Student Design/Build/Fly Competition.