SAE Aero 2016

Project Description

The SAE Aero Design Competition is an event that is held annually for college students. Teams from all over the world gather and compete in three unique classes: Regular, Micro, and Advanced. The capstone team is tasked with the design and construction of an airplane that adheres to the requirements of the Regular class competition. There are many constraints that the competition has to make the task complex and difficult. The competition provides a chance for engineering students to learn something about designing and building a product and having fun while doing it. Most learning has been done in the classroom, so this project gives engineering students the chance to get hands on experience which will help in the future for the engineering profession.

Need Statement

Northern Arizona University currently does not have an operational airplane to compete in the SAE Aero design competition

Project Goals

  • Design and build an aircraft that adheres to the SAE Aero competition requirements
  • Gain valuable knowledge in the mechanical engineering design and manufacturing processes, specifically in airplane design


  • Carry a maximum payload
  • Carry a payload from point A to B
  • Achieve a small turning radius for the aircraft
  • Complete tasks as quickly as possible


  • Freestanding aircraft must not exceed a combined length, width and height of 175 in
  • Aircraft must be powered by a commercially available lithium-polymer battery pack
  • Must use a new 2015 version 1000 W power limiter provided by
  • Interior payload bay must be smooth and dimensions must be 10’’x4’’x4’’ (length, width, height) with a tolerance of +0.125”
  • Payload must be secured to an airframe, with payload plates
  • Airplane must land and take off within 200 ft
  • Must complete all tasks within 180 s