M:2:I Design Build Fly team prepares for national competition

M:2:I’s Design Build Fly (DBF) team is gearing up for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) design competition where they will demonstrate their originally made aircraft. Nearly 110 teams from around the world will compete in this annual student event. The DBF Contest Flyoff will be held April 11-14 in Tucson, Arizona.

The team is tasked with designing, building and flying an aircraft that will meet specific requirements and complete challenging missions. These requirements and missions change with each annual competition. The aircrafts are required to be unmanned, electrically powered and remote controlled.

The goal is to create a balanced design processing, good demonstrated flight handling qualities and practical and affordable manufacturing requirements while providing a high vehicle performance. This year’s Iowa State team is led by Koltyn Voth, the DBF project lead. This is Voth’s third year participating in Design Build Fly and his first year managing it as the project lead.

“This is a great project,” Voth said. “As aerospace engineering students we don’t get to see a lot of our stuff in action. We can read all of the books, we can do all of the simulations, but here we literally design, build and fly our own aircraft.”

The Design Build Fly team is currently hosting a fundraiser through the ISU Foundation to make their trip to Tucson, Arizona, as affordable as possible. The team is hoping to raise $5,000 by March 29. For more information on this team’s fundraising effort, visit here.

This year’s competition has three in-flight missions as well as a ground mission. The requirements for the design of the plane are as follows:

  • Each plane must have a minimum of a 4 ft. wing span
  • Aircraft must fold and fit inside of a 3 ft. x 2 ft. box
  • Aircraft must transition from the stowed configuration to the flight configuration remotely and lock without any assistance
  • Aircraft must launch from a 10 ft. ramp
  • Aircraft must have a tail hook

The ground mission is the first mission that each team will complete. The mission will be carried out as follows:

Design Build Fly 2019 aircraft design
  • The aircraft starts in the box; only one assembly crew member and pilot can touch the plane
  • The aircraft will remotely transition to flight configuration
  • Crew will manually install a 12 in. radome and demonstrate its rotation, then uninstall the radome
  • Crew will install at least four attack stores in the form of foam missiles, demonstrate props and controls, then uninstall the attack stores

Each mission gets more challenging as the competition moves forward. The first mission requires that each team takes off from the ramp with no payloads. Each plane will have to complete three laps around the track within five minutes and successfully land.

For the second mission the radome will be tested. Each aircraft will take off from the ramp. The radome will have to rotate on command within each lap and its rotation must be clearly visible from the ground. The mission will be completed with three laps in five minutes, with a successful landing.

Finally, the third mission involves the attack stores. The Iowa State team plans on flying with seven attack stores. Each aircraft must take off from the ramp, and drop one attack store by remote control per lap. This mission must be completed within 10 minutes and must have a successful landing.

Design Build Fly Team – 2019

This year’s mission requirements are some of the toughest DBF challenges yet, and the Iowa State team is prepared to successfully complete these missions, especially with the help of DBF adviser and aerodynamics specialist, Dr. Anupam Sharma.

“I felt that the students got the idea of the importance of preliminary design,” Dr. Sharma said. “I think the execution this time was better, learning from last time. I think it’s a continual improvement for me and it’s good to see us getting better with each competition.”