Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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AIAA Students Develop Fixed Wing Regional Business Aircraft Project


Austin Kopesky (left) and Leonid Heide (right) working on the 2016-2017 team's drone for the 2017 competition.


University of Minnesota student members of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) are currently in the process of preparing for AIAA’s Design, Build, Fly competition that will be held April 19-22, 2018, in Wichita, Kansas.

For the 2018 competition, team lead Austin Kopesky says they are designing a “remote controlled, electrically, powered, dual-purpose regional and business aircraft. The overall goal of the project is to design a fixed wing aircraft that is efficient in carrying cargo as well as passengers while maintaining a short wingspan and is lightweight.” The cargo will be in the form of half pound block and the passengers will be bouncy balls at various sizes and weights which will be randomly distributed at the time of the competition.

The University of Minnesota’s team consists of 11 students from Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering. “Our team structure consists of five sub teams: Aerodynamic Design and Sizing, Structures and Integration, Electronics and Propulsion, 3D Modeling and Simulation, and 3D Printing. All of which work together to solve problems.” Says Kopesky. The multi-disciplinary team member will create an opportunity for the students to experience how they will work with others to solve problems in a real world setting.

The competition is comprised of three stages: a proposal, the design report, and the fly-off. The proposal deadline was October 31, 2017 and the U of M’s team submission detailed the structure of the team, their budget, designs, manufacturing flow, and their testing plan. Out of 140 contestants, their proposal tied for 8th place. The top 100 teams were then invited to move onto the next phase and complete their design report.

The design report, due in February, will be an expansion of their proposal with finer details of every single aspect of the project as well as include computer simulation results of their models and in-flight performance.

The final stage of the competition is held at in Wichita, Kansas, where each team’s final project is given four missions to complete- one on the ground and three in the air. “The ground mission requires our team to ‘service’ our aircraft by replacing a randomly chosen aircraft component from a designated list of items within three minutes or less. The three flight missions require our pilot to fly the aircraft through a designated course that is approximately half a mile long. The missions are as follows: Empty aircraft demonstration flight, [take] 3 laps while flying with passengers, and a 10 minute flight carrying both passengers and cargo.” Explains Kopesky.

Until the next deadline, Kopesky says the team is “currently finishing up our preliminary design and planning for the design report which is due in a couple months. Our plan is to conduct computer simulations using our 3D Models over break and begin building our first prototype immediately after we return from break.”








Last Modified: 2017-12-21 at 13:56:46 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation