Designing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (2-Day Course) 13 June - 14 June 2020 Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno, Nevada

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Registration Options:

  • Early AIAA Member Rate (until 20 May): $649
  • Standard AIAA Member Rate: $749
  • Non-Member Rate: $849

  • Course Hours:
    0800–1700 hrs


    This 2-day course will provide a comprehensive treatment of the major disciplines that drive unmanned aircraft design. The class closely follows the book, Designing Unmanned Aircraft Systems: A Comprehensive Approach, which is included with registration. It investigates all elements of the design process, including architectural options and design drivers across diverse system classes. The course provides a comprehensive understanding of the end-to-end unmanned aircraft system and a deeper appreciation for the multidisciplinary nature of UAS design. In addition to covering traditional aircraft design disciplines, the instruction will explore other disciplines that are important to UAS design such as launch and recovery systems, communication systems, payloads, and ground systems. Attendees will gain an understanding of the wide range of UAS ranging from micro air vehicles to large high-altitude systems.

    Learning Objectives 

    • Use of a multidisciplinary systems philosophy and methods for defining UAS products
    • Classic aircraft design disciplines: configuration design, aerodynamics, propulsion, structures, mass properties, performance
    • Launch and recovery systems
    • Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) systems
    • Airborne remote sensing physics, sensor design, and operational techniques
    • Civil and military UAS missions
    • System level mission systems effectiveness
    • Overview of ground control station types and system architectures
    • Understanding of the ‘ilities’: reliability, supportability, transportability, etc.
    • Special topics: airspace integration and societal acceptance

    Who Should Attend

    This course is suitable as continuing education for those interested in numerous aspects of UAS design and development. It is intended for industry professionals (engineers, engineering managers), scientists, and engineering students and with varying levels of experience, including those who are new to UAS Design in research, military and commercial applications. The material could also provide meaningful background for a capstone undergraduate UAS design project.


    Please contact Jason Cole if you have any questions about courses and workshops at AIAA forums.

    • Topic 1: Overview of Unmanned Aircraft Systems
    • Topic 2: Unmanned Aircraft Categories
    • Topic 3: Initial Unmanned Aircraft Sizing
    • Topic 4: Unmanned Aircraft Geometry and Configurations
    • Topic 5: Aerodynamics
    • Topic 6: Mass Properties
    • Topic 7: Structures
    • Topic 8: Propulsion Systems
    • Topic 9: Flight Performance
    • Topic 10: Avionics, Flight Software, and Subsystems
    • Topic 11: Launch and Recovery
    • Topic 12: Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL), Airships, and Unconventional Vehicles
    • Topic 13: Communications Systems
    • Topic 14: Physics of Remote Sensing and In Situ Measurement
    • Topic 15: Missions and Payloads
    • Topic 16: Mission Systems Integration
    • Topic 17: Command, Control, Tasking, Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination
    • Topic 18: Reliability, Maintainability, Supportability, and Transportability
    • Topic 19: System Synthesis and Mission Effectiveness
    • Topic 20: Cost Analysis
    • Topic 21: Product Definition and Requirements Development
    • Topic 22: Special Topics in Unmanned Aviation

    Course notes will be made available about one week prior to the course event. You will receive an email with detailed instructions on how to access your course notes. Since these notes will not be distributed on site, AIAA and your course instructor highly recommend that you bring your computer with the course notes already downloaded. 

    The book Designing Unmanned Aircraft Systems: A Comprehensive Approach will be provided onsite as part of course registration.


    Dr. Jay Gundlach is a prolific UAS designer who has helped develop over 45 unique flying UAS that have achieved over a million cumulative flight hours. Notable projects include inventing and leading the development of the Insitu Integrator (now the RQ-21A Blackjack), leading the Aurora Flight Sciences Orion Ultra-Long Endurance UAS, and originating the Aurora Flight Sciences DARPA VTOL X-Plane and TERN programs. Gundlach has worked with numerous UAS prime contractors, suppliers, universities, and government program offices over the course of his career. He is currently serving as president of Gundlach Aerospace LLC, a Virginia-based aircraft design company. Notable previous positions include President of FlightHouse Engineering, Director of Conceptual Design at Aurora Flight Sciences, Insitu’s Vice President of Advanced Development, and a Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) contractor. He regularly develops new UAS systems and invents enabling technologies, which has led to five patents. As a foremost UAS expert, Gundlach has written three authoritative books published by AIAA, including a comprehensive UAS textbook, a study of NRL UAS development, and his recently published book dedicated exclusively to the emerging field of civilian UAS. Gundlach holds a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech. He is a Senior Member of AIAA and a current member of its Aircraft Design Technical Committee.