2017/18 Contest Year
19 – 22 APRIL 2018

General Information

Team Requirements:

All team members (except for a non-student pilot) must be full time students at an accredited University or College and student members of the AIAA.  At least 1/3 of the team members must consist of freshman, sophomores or juniors (below senior year, for non-four year programs).  The pilot must be an AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) member. Teams may use a non-university member for the pilot if desired. We will provide qualified pilots at the contest on an as-available basis to assist teams who are unable to have their pilot attend.

There is no set requirement for the number of students that must attend the flyoff.  It is preferred, but not required, for the team advisor or responsible faculty member to attend.

Team members may be updated/changed at any time during the contest but must always comply with the 1/3 rule. Following the initial team postings at the contest beginning we will make a “One Time” update to the team member lists posted on the website. We will notify teams when the website update change information may be sent, normally in February. Teams wishing a team member list update at that time must submit an updated copy of the contest entry form with all fields fully filled (but only the team member information may be changed).

Each educational institution may submit one (1) team entry.

The team members may be changed during the contest period, so schools may use an internal selection process to determine their final design and team members prior to the written report submission and fly-off.  For schools with multiple campuses in different cities each campus will be considered as a separate entity.

Two or more schools may combine to submit a single entry.

Schools which already have an entry may not have additional students from their school participate as members of a team from a different (shadow) school.

Past Year Reports:

Winning team design reports from prior contest years are posted on the contest website as examples.  Note that the formatting and content has evolved from one year to the next.  Only the rules noted in Scoring apply for the current year.  The top scoring report(s) from this year’s contest will be placed on the contest web site for the next year’s competition.


Teams may solicit and accept sponsorship in the form of funds or materials and components from commercial organizations. All design, analysis, and fabrication of the contest entry is the sole responsibility of the student team members.


The contest administration will maintain a website containing the latest information regarding the contest schedules, rules, and participating teams.  The contest web site is http://www.aiaadbf.org

Questions regarding the contest, schedules, or rules interpretation may be sent to the contest administrator by email at: director@aiaadbf.org

Questions received prior to the official entry submission date will not be answered directly. Select questions “may” be answered in the FAQ prior to the entry submission date. Official questions and answers received following the entry submission date will be posted on the website FAQ.

The DBF Organizing Committee will utilize Facebook as an additional means of communicating with the teams during the contest weekend only. This will NOT be a means of communicating rules, FAQ's, protests, etc, but only used in case of emergencies, weather delays or contest weekend schedule updates. Additional information will be included in a contest site/ schedule email to be sent out to the registered teams prior to the fly-off.

Flight Line and Order:

A flight order list will be generated and emailed to the teams on the Wednesday prior to the fly-off weekend.  Teams will always rotate in this order.  The flight order will be repeated continuously.  

The flight order list will carry over from Thursday to Friday, Friday to Saturday and Saturday to Sunday at whatever spot in the rotation it leaves off.

Each team’s position in the flight order will be determined from their written report score, highest report score goes first.

Report scores will be available following the pilot briefing at the start of the contest (they will not be included with the rotation sequence e-mail). 

There will be staging box positions near the flight line.

If you are not ready to enter a staging box when your rotation number comes up, you will miss (forfeit) your opportunity for that rotation.

Note: It is each team's responsibility to monitor the notifications from the scoring table in order to respond if ready.  A contest official will be available to help teams enter the staging box.

If you choose to leave the staging box for any reason, you may not attempt a flight until your turn comes up again in the rotation order.

Flight Course:

The orientation (direction) of the flight course will be adjusted based on the prevailing winds as determined by the Flight Line Judge.  The flight course will be positioned to maintain the greatest possible safety to personnel and facilities.  The nominal flight course is shown in the Figure below.


Protest Procedure:

Submitting a protest is a serious matter and will be treated as such. Teams may submit a protest to the Contest Administration at any time during the competition.  Protests may not be submitted after the conclusion of the competition.  Protests must be submitted in writing and signed by the team advisor, designees are not allowed for protest submissions.  If the team advisor is not present, he may FAX or email a signed protest to the team for them to present.  Remotely submitted protests must be on hard copy (printed by the team) and have the advisors signature.  A phone number where the advisor may be contacted must be provided.  Protests may be posted for review at the decision of the administration.

Protests and penalties (up to disqualification from the contest for deliberate attempts to misinform officials, violate the contest rules, or safety infractions) will be decided by the Contest Administration. Protests submitted but not upheld by the judges may be given a penalty of the loss of one flight score to the team submitting the protest.  The decision of the Contest Administration is final.

Learn More

AIAA DBF UAV Design Project 2015:
The Journey

More Videos

Select a video from the list below

Purdue AIAA DBF 2015 FT1
WSU DBF 2015
The Many Crashes of DBF 2014
2015 UML AIAA - Design Build Fly Video