The World's Forum for Aerospace Leadership

  • Donate
  • Press Room
  • Renew
  • View Cart
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

is the world's largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession.

    • AIAA Governance
    • ARC
    • AIAA Foundation
    • Industry Guide

    Safety is a paramount concern for participants, judges, and the audience. Failure to follow these rules will result in a team’s disqualification for the heat. If the judges deem the violation as significant enough or to be dangerous, a team may be subject to disqualification from the competition.


    A geofence is located around the outside of the competition field. Teams must stay within this field. Judges will be monitoring the geofence and the location of team’s vehicles. A safety infraction occurs once a team crosses the line of the geofence.

    Preflight Inspection

    Judges will perform a preflight tech inspection on each team’s vehicle to ensure that the vehicle is safe enough for flight. The preflight inspection checklist is located in Section 9.3 of the competition rules.

    Return to Launch Capability

    Each team’s vehicle must possess the capability for a user to command the vehicle to return to the launch point via the push of a button, flip of a switch, etc. The return to launch capability should be able to activate in a very short time period (≤ 2 seconds).

    Manual (RC) Override

    Each team’s vehicle must possess the capability for a user to take control of it quickly via RC during autonomous flight. A user should be able to activate it in a very short time period (≤ 2 seconds).

    Takeoff/Landing Zones

    Competitors may only enter the takeoff/landing zones to prepare their vehicle and load their package(s) prior to the start of the heat or to retrieve their vehicle at the end of a heat. Prior to entering the takeoff/landing zone, competitors must have permission from the judges who will ensure that the area is clear. Prior to retrieving their vehicle from the takeoff/landing zone, the vehicle should be in a disarmed state.

    Competition Area

    Under no circumstances, will the judges allow anyone onto the competition field during a heat. In the event that a team’s vehicle crashes during a heat, the team may retrieve the vehicle once the heat is over and a judge signals that the field is clear for retrieval. Participants may not retrieve the packages. Judges will retrieve all packages at the end of a heat.

    Practice Area

    There will be an area designated for practice during the competition. Teams must stay within these areas when flying. An official will be supervising the practice area at all times. Note that due to the potential for RF interference with competing aircraft, no practice flights will be allowed during competition runs.