The team “Vimaanaas”, a group of students from VIT secured the fourth spot in design score in aero-design competition held at Van Nuys, California in March. The four part competition, consisting of design report, oral presentation, viva voce and flight score, was organised by organised by Society of Automotive Engineers, USA. The VIT team who developed a small aircraft with the use of a plastic bottle and lightweight wood, were adjudged to be the best team from India.

N. Aakaash, a third year electronics and communication engineering student and one of the team members, said the competition had intended to provide engineering students with a ‘real-life engineering challenge'. “Our team was formed with a vision to build a formidable aeronautical team to excel in engineering, design and manufacturing of micro-aircraft so as to participate in the SAE Aero-Design competition.”

Vimaanaas contested in the micro-class category. The main aim of this class is to design and fabricate a detachable unmanned aerial vehicle and launch system within specified packaging requirements so as to attain the highest payload fraction possible, while simultaneously having the lowest empty weight. “We started working on the aircraft from September last year. 90 per cent of the parts were fabricated and assembled by hand. Our team had to be innovative and calculative in design. For example, we chose a normal rectangular water bottle as the fuselage of the aircraft. During flight rounds, a licensed pilot flew our aircraft ,” Aakaash said.

Another member and a second year mechanical engineering student, Aman Deep Singh said, “Since it is the first time for many members, we had to experiment a lot with the structure for stability and performance. We had some constraints in our category as specified by the guidelines. The design should be fixed wing aircraft, two members should be able to assemble it in 3 minutes, it should land in the designated grass field of 200 metres in length and the aircraft should be hand launched.” Sadhana Mishra, another team member, said the team spent about Rs 1 lakh for the project and built the aircraft without any guidance. “It is our own study and effort in coming out with the design and development, which made our endeavour successful,” she said.