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The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

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    Graduate Team Aircraft Design Competition

    Graduate Team Aircraft Design Competition

    VSTOL Air Taxi

    Opportunity Description:

    Considering the extensive amount of time people in metropolitan areas spend commuting to and from work each day, is there a solution using an aircraft to improve the quality of life of the US population? Specifically for example the New York and San Francisco metropolitan areas, there is significant congestion on roadways due to geographic bottlenecks. Many of these bottlenecks are cause by real estate limitations preventing the construction of more roads and by bridges and tunnels required to cross water. Rail solutions allow greater capacity, but the extensive infrastructure cost prevents these systems from becoming ubiquitous. Aviation is not constrained in the same way as surface transportation systems.

    This design challenge is to propose the design of an air taxi system that must operate out of confined urban areas requiring vertical and short takeoff and landing capability.  To respond to this request for proposal successfully, teams must also develop an operations model of the air taxi corporation and develop cost and revenue models for the corporation in addition to designing the VSTOL aircraft. Considering potential challenges to certification of an autonomously operating aircraft, teams may assume that the VSTOL air taxi aircraft will fall under Part 135 (single pilot, max of 9 passengers); however, efforts to incorporate aspects of autonomy to improve safety and cost of operations are encouraged.

    In addition to aircraft design, the student team will have to consider the business plan to make an economically viable system. This study will require optimization of their aircraft’s requirements along with the system’s business model. Teams shall develop their own cost and revenue assumptions and passenger/range demand models or use appropriate existing models for optimization of the Air Taxi System. Teams will have to ideate a solution that is of better value than future solutions of automobiles, rail and airline service. Teams should also make use of technology that will be available in 2020. High performance electric motors and batteries should be part of this trade study.

    Primary Contacts:
    William Crossley