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Building an R/C aircraft isn’t exactly a project intent on breaking ground in the field of aerospace engineering, rather it is an opportunity to apply fluid dynamics in a practical manner to gain experience in aeronautical engineering. An aerospace engineer is one who designs and builds aircraft and spacecraft and are often tasked with deeming an aircraft flight worthy or not. We will attempt to predict the feasibility of our custom plane designs using aircraft engineering techniques found through research and through texts provided by our advisor, Dr. Jayasimha. The goal of this design is to design and fabricate a plane that abides by the SAE 2012 Aircraft Competition guidelines. These constraints require the plane to lift off in under 200 ft of runway, not have rotary wings (such as helicopter), weigh less than 55 lbs, and the propeller must rotate at the same RPM as the motor. The problem we are trying to solve is to accurately predict the behavior of the model prior to fabrication by using aerodynamic engineering calculations and simplifications. We aim to predict the take-off velocity, the induced drags on the plane, required engine performance, in-flight performance, and overall feasibility of the design. If successful, we will gain a decent understanding of how aerospace engineers predict the flight behavior and specification requirements of airplanes. It is actually more difficult to design a flightworthy small-scale aircraft rather than a large commercial one due to the low altitude of operation, which induces fairly laminar boundary conditions, which in turn increases the drag force on the plane. In order to do this, coefficients of lift and drag of the airplane’s airfoil will be found using the software XFLYER 5, which is a specialized program for aircraft design. Using this software and formulae found from R/C aircraft related texts, an excel sheet will be made to predict flight performance and by altering the dimensions of the plane and airfoil shape, we will be able to choose the most flightworthy design. So far we are working with an airfoil at an angle of attack of 7 degrees which yields a coefficient of lift of 0.943 and a coefficient of drag of 0.0062. With rectangular wings 13’’X 42’’, a fuselage of length 5.5 ft, a Rimfire 1.60 motor, and a weight of 25 lbs, it was predicted that the plane will need to reach 37mph, overcome a drag of 14.5 Newtons, and will take about 77 ft of runway to lift off. We aim to reduce these values by adjusting parameters accordingly.

Publication Date



mechanical and nuclear engineering, aircraft


Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Jayasimha Atulasimha

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

August 2015

Radio Controlled Aircraft