2017/18 Contest Year
19 – 22 APRIL 2018


Download 2018 DBF Rules
Download 2018 DBF Proposal Scores


The AIAA through the Applied Aerodynamics, Aircraft Design, Design Engineering and Flight Test Technical Committees and the AIAA Foundation invites all university students to participate in the Design/Build/Fly Competition. Major corporate sponsors for the competition are Textron Aviation, Raytheon Missile Systems, and AIAA Foundation. The contest will provide a real-world aircraft design experience for engineering students by giving them the opportunity to validate their analytic studies.

Student teams will design, fabricate, and demonstrate the flight capabilities of an unmanned, electric powered, radio controlled aircraft that can best meet the specified mission profile. The goal is a balanced design possessing good demonstrated flight handling qualities and practical and affordable manufacturing requirements while providing a high vehicle performance.

To encourage innovation and maintain a fresh design challenge for each new year, the design requirements and performance objectives will be updated for each new contest year. The changes will provide new design requirements and opportunities, while allowing for application of technology developed by the teams from prior years.

Check the rules package carefully as items and approaches that were legal in past years may not be legal for this contest year. Only the contents of this year's Rules package along with the current FAQ and Q&A documents hold bearing on the requirements and/or allowances for the current contest year.  

It is the responsibility of the teams to know and follow all provided rules, the FAQ, and all contest day briefings.

Cash prizes are $2500 for 1st, $1500 for 2nd and $1000 for 3rd place. The winning team may be invited to present their design at an AIAA conference. The team with the best Report Score will receive a $100 prize from the Design Engineering Technical Committee.

How to Use the Rules Pages

The rules pages are separated out into blocks of material that should help you to quickly and easily find information for which you are looking. In addition, each rules page has a link to download the entire set of rules for the current year.

  • General Information -This page will go over the basic information of the competition. Information includes team requirements, reports that are required, general schedule of activities, communications, deadlines, and other basic information
  • Schedule – This page will provide information about deadlines for proposals and design reports. It will also note the date and location of the Flyoff
  • Mission and Vehicle Design – This page discusses the current year's mission. It notes payload(s) required, types of missions, and number of laps that may be required. It also notes specifications for the current year's aircraft. The aircraft information includes details about fail-safe, structural integrity and inspection, and general aircraft requirements
  • Reports – This page defines the requirements and scoring criteria for both the Proposal that is submitted with the team entry and the Design Report
  • Scoring – This page indicates how a team's overall score is calculated. It notes the formula for determining each mission score, overall flight score, and Rated Aircraft Cost (RAC). It also provides the rubric for reports that are required to be submitted
  • Flyoff Site – This page will note the date and location of the Flyoff. Specific agenda items for contest days may be noted
  • FAQ – This page answers questions that asked often by persons that want to compete in the competition.
  • Q&A – This page answers specific questions about this year's competition.

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