joanneum Aeronautics is the official FH JOANNEUM aviation club and was founded in 2014. Two teams are currently working on projects in two different areas: the Design-Build-Fly team is taking part in the annual DBF contest held by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) in the USA; the Precision Flying team is competing in the national Precision Flying Championships held by the Austrian Aeroclub (ÖAeC).
The joanneum Aeronautics club aims to provide students with opportunities to put their engineering and management skills into practice in a hands-on environment. The Design-Build-Fly-Team (the DBF team) designs and builds model aircraft in order to compete in the famous DBF contest held by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA); members of the Precision Flying team (the PF team) demonstrate their navigation and aeronautical skills with an Ikarus C42 ultralight aircraft in national precision flying contests held by the Austrian Aeroclub (ÖAeC).
Mixed year group approach
An important aspect of joanneum Aeronautics is the mixed year group approach followed by the DBF team: Master’s degree students deepen their project management experience while Bachelor’s degree students are able to profit from the know-how of older fellow students. DBF stands for Design, Build, Fly – the three cornerstones of the international competition for remote controlled model aircraft, which has been held in the USA every year since 1996/97. In 2015, joanneum Aeronautics was the first team from an Austrian university to take part in this competition hosted by the AIAA, the Cessna Aircraft Company and Raytheon Missile Systems.
To participate in the DBF competition students have to design, build and demonstrate a radio-controlled model aircraft powered by an electric motor. The annual fly-offs are held alternately in Tucson/Arizona and Wichita/Kansas. In the fly-offs, the aircraft are assigned certain missions, which are newly defined every year and include, for example, transporting a bottle from A to B or dropping a certain number of plastic balls one at a time during the flight etc.
The PF team, on the other hand, has the task of flying a set flight path as precisely as possible. A chart, a stop watch and a compass may be used but use of a satellite navigation system (GPS) is not permitted. Certain ground targets also have to be located and spot landings completed. Points are deducted for every second lost in the schedule in relation to actual flight time required for the way points. Points are also deducted if ground targets are not found or not correctly identified and when it comes to the spot landing every meter counts before and after the zero mark.
“A real-world aircraft design experience”
According to the DBF competition website: “The contest provides a real-world design aircraft design experience for engineering students by giving them the opportunity to validate their analytical studies. The goal is a balanced design possessing good flight handling qualities and practical and affordable manufacturing requirements while providing a high vehicle performance.”
Successful first season
The DBF team from joanneum Aeronautics has been very successful, competing for the first time in the 2014/15 season and being ranked 26th out of participating teams from 100 international universities. The PF Team has been equally successful and in its first season came top of the entry level category at the Austrian Precision Flying National Championships.