Institution news

Beihang Aeromodelling Team claim victory at the UAS Challenge 2024 fly-off

UAS Challenge Team

The Institution’s aerospace engineering competition celebrated its 10-year anniversary at BMFA Buckminster, with largest event to date.

Students from the Beihang University in China were crowned grand champions of this year’s UAS Challenge, which celebrated it’s 10-year anniversary at the competition’s finals fly-off event held at the BMFA Buckminster in the UK.

University of Bath secured runner up spot while the Estonian Aviation Academy were awarded third place. Other teams who secured coveted awards this year included Loughborough University for the Design Award and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay for the Operational Sustainability award.

Started in 2014, the UAS Challenge is an annual engineering design competition offered to university undergraduate and postgraduate students to design, build and fly a completely autonomous Unmanned Aerial System of maximum 10kg to undertake a variety of flight missions.

Working on a real-world engineering project comprised of presentation and demonstration events, participants are able to complement their academic studies with hands-on experience of engineering design, project management and team work, making them well-rounded and sought-after graduate engineers.

With over 20 teams from the UK and abroad travelling to the finals event to present their hard work, the 2024 competition was by far the largest and most successful event to date. Students brought a wide variety of UAS, including traditional aircraft and gliders alongside quadcopters, tilt-rotor craft, a miniature helicopter and even a flying wing.

 “It’s been a brilliant year for the UAS Challenge,” remarked Paul Lloyd, UAS Challenge Chair. “We were delighted to see the biggest number of entrants we’ve ever had join us at the fly-off and with an outstanding level of aircraft on display; perfect for the competition’s 10-year anniversary.”

“I have really enjoyed watching so many teams get their UAS airborne all week and it shows the continually high level of commitment from those taking part. Congratulations to all the students, and whether you’re going off into industry or will be returning to university, I hope that everyone has enjoyed the chance to compete and have gained some valuable experiences.”

Thanks to an emphasis on knowledge transfer between different years and with mentoring support from engineers in industry from the competition’s partners, the standard of this year’s fleet of UAS was high, resulting in many students eager to get to the front of the queue as soon as the flight line opened. Despite windy weather conditions all week, the majority of teams were able to fly their aircraft at least once during the competition.

The full list of award winners are as follows:

Grand Champions: University of Beihang

Runner up: University of Bath

Third Place: Estonian Aviation Academy

Simulation Award: Loughborough University

Design Award: Loughborough University

Environmental Award: University of Valencia

Innovation Award: Heriot-Watt

Operational Supportability: Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

Business Proposition Award: Queen’s University Belfast

Media & Engagement: University of West England

Advancement Award: DeMontfort University

Most Promise Award: University of Twente

The UAS Challenge committee are grateful for the continued support of its partners Ansys, Babcock International, Callen-Lenz, Spirit Aerospace, and Leonardo UK, and sponsors PA Consulting and QinetiQ, as well as its long-standing group of dedicated volunteers who make the event a continued, longstanding success.

Further photographs and video coverage are available on the UAS Challenge’s Instagram, LinkedIn, X and Facebook channels.

The UAS Challenge will reopen for registration in October 2024 and we look forward to welcoming all new and returning teams for another exciting year of the competition.



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