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VFS Announces the Winners of the 39th Annual Student Design Competition

The Ver­ti­cal Flight Soci­ety (VFS) has announced the win­ners of its 39th Annu­al Stu­dent Design Com­pe­ti­tion with Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute tak­ing first place in the Grad­u­ate cat­e­go­ry and Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land in the Under­grad­u­ate cat­e­go­ry.

In addi­tion, a team of four schools in Turkey — Erciyes, Eskise­hir Osmangazi, Necmet­tin Erbakan and Sam­sun Uni­ver­si­ties — took Best New Under­grad­u­ate Entrant hon­ours. Bell was the spon­sor of this year’s com­pe­ti­tion with a total of $12,500 in prize mon­ey.

Aca­d­e­m­ic teams from around the world sub­mit­ted entries in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, with a total of 14 pro­pos­als from four dif­fer­ent coun­tries. The 2021–2022 Stu­dent Design Com­pe­ti­tion was enti­tled, ‘eVTOL Air Taxi for Pas­sen­gers with Reduced Mobil­i­ty (PRM)’.

The goal of this year was to devel­op an air­craft that sup­ports PRM cus­tomers, and the UK char­i­ty Aer­o­bil­i­ty pro­vid­ed advice and sup­port on the com­pe­ti­tion para­me­ters.

Teams had to design the cock­pit, cab­in and bag­gage com­part­ment to accom­mo­date a sin­gle pilot and no less than two pas­sen­gers with dis­abil­i­ties, or alter­na­tive seat­ing of four pas­sen­gers with full mobil­i­ty.

The win­ning teams for the grad­u­ate cat­e­go­ry are Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute in Troy, New York with USA Oli­whop­er, Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land Col­lege Park USA with Star­ling, and Geor­gia Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy in Atlanta USA with Bal­to.

Oli­whop­er has an acces­si­ble cab­in design, effec­tive aero­dy­nam­ic per­for­mance, spa­cious cab­in design and care­ful­ly designed light­ing, hand­holds and audio cues for any­one with mobil­i­ty, visu­al or audi­to­ry chal­lenges.

The vehi­cle design allows for oper­a­tors to ser­vice cus­tomers at a vari­ety of loca­tions, with­out the need for spe­cialised ground equip­ment using an effi­cient lift + cruise design, which max­imis­es the per­for­mance advan­tages of dis­trib­uted elec­tric propul­sion, while main­tain­ing the redun­dan­cy and con­trol author­i­ty expect­ed from mod­ern air­craft.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land was the win­ning under­grad­u­ate team, with ‘Blitzen’ (Ger­man for light­ning and also the name of the myth­i­cal fly­ing rein­deer). Blitzen fol­lows an ener­gy-effi­cient lift-and-thrust-com­pound­ing sin­gle main rotor design with a
fixed wing and swiv­el­ling rotor-prop that pro­vides anti-torque in hov­er and for­ward thrust in cruise.

Spon­sor­ship rotates between Air­bus, Bell, Boe­ing, Bell, Leonar­do, Siko­rsky and the US Army Research Lab­o­ra­to­ry. For near­ly 80 years, VFS has pro­vid­ed glob­al lead­er­ship for sci­en­tif­ic, tech­ni­cal, edu­ca­tion­al and leg­isla­tive ini­tia­tives that advance the state of the art of ver­ti­cal flight.

eVTOL Insights Editorial

This article was compiled by the eVTOL Insights editorial team.

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