Annual VFS Design-Build-Vertical Flight Competition

Annual DBVF Competition

This year's event was a great success! Congratulations to the winning schools: Ohio State, University of Maryland and Penn State. Check out the press release and our photo album of the final flyoff and awards ceremony.

The Vertical Flight Society completed its inaugural VFS Design-Build-Vertical Flight (DBVF) Student Competition in April 2021. VFS is pleased to host the second annual DBVF student competition: 

2022 Request for Proposal (updated March 1, 2022) — download the latest RFP!

Download the FAQ document (updated May 22, 2022)

This electric-powered remote-control vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) competition seeks to encourage interest in unmanned aircraft technology, and small air vehicle design and fabrication. The competition is designed to develop hands-on skills and familiarization with eVTOL and advanced air mobility (AAM) technology at the university student level and prepare the next generation of engineers and leaders to push the limits of this exciting technology into the future.

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is the host of the DBVF competition flyoff, which will be held at ARL’s Robotics Research Collaboration Campus (R2C2) at Graces Quarters in Maryland and scheduled for June 1-3, 2022. Download the ARL APG visitors guide and local visitor information including nearby hotels.

The aircraft will be restricted to a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of no more than 15 lbs. (6.8 kg). The vehicle, along with any power supply and payload may not exceed 15 lbs. Aircraft size and weight will factor into the competition scoring, which will be described in the scoring section of the Request for Proposal.

A total of $5,000 in cash awards will be given in two rounds and include the following:

  • Preliminary Design Report: 1st – $750; 2nd – $500; 3rd – $250
  • Overall Competition: 1st – $2000; 2nd – $1000; 3rd – $500

Congratulations to the following teams for their winning Preliminary Design Reports (announced Feb. 11, 2022):

  • 1st Place – Pennsylvania State University
  • 2nd Place – University of Michigan
  • 3rd Place – Ohio State University

Team eligibility rules include:

  • No limit to university students and up to two Faculty Advisors, with exception to the fly-off competition dates where teams will be limited to five (5) team members.
  • Each team member must be a current VFS Student Member ($25/year) at the time of submitting your Preliminary Design Report (PDR).
  • Each team’s pilot must also hold an FAA Part 107 Drone Certification.

Congratulations and good luck to the participating teams this year from the following universities:

  • McGill University
  • Ohio State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Maryland
  • Vaughn College of Aeronautics & Technology

2021 DBVF Results

2021 DBVF: U. Michigan team (small jpg)

The winners of the inaugural (2021) DBVF Student Competition were:

Honorable mentions:

  • McGill University
  • Oregon State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology

Download the 2021 Request for Proposal.

Check out our photo gallery of the winners and read the press release to learn more. Congrats to all the teams for perservance through all the challenges of design and development during the COVID-19 pandemic!



Thank You to Our Gold Sponsor:

Survice logo (jpg)

Thank You to Our Bronze Sponsor:


Sponsorship Opportunities:

  • Gold Level: $5,000
  • Silver Level: $2,500
  • Bronze Level: $1,500

Please download the sponsorship flyer for more details.

Timeline for Deliverables:

Letter of Intent to Submit:
Closed on Oct. 15, 2021

Preliminary Design Report:
Closed on Dec. 20, 2021
    - PDR results announced

Team Component Lists & Network Diagram to ARL:
Closed on March 1, 2022

Team Fly-off Participant List to ARL:
Closed on March 1, 2022

UAS Pilot Certifications Training & Experience (including FAA Part 107 Certification) to ARL: closed April 25, 2022

Final Technical Report: closed May 2, 2022 – results TBA.

Competition Fly-off Dates (refer to the FAQ for team day/times):
June 1-3, 2022
   - Teams 1 thru 4:
     June 1, 2022
   - Teams 5 thru 7:
     June 3, 2022
    - Awards Ceremony @
Survice Engineering

Questions: Email (updated 3/1/2022)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):  An FAQ document will be posted to the competition site on a semi-monthly basis.

Questions should be submitted by the 15th of every month

  - Updated FAQ document will be posted the 30th of every month