QinetiQ to host UAS Challenge 2017 at Snowdonia Aerospace Centre

QinetiQ will provide Snowdonia Aerospace Centre as the venue for this year’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Challenge, organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Operated by QinetiQ in partnership with Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, the site in northwest Wales is an active testing and training centre for all types of unmanned aerial systems, from small privately-owned quadcopters to large military aircraft. The unique environment and purpose-built facilities offer a diverse set of testing conditions and access to the 7,100 square kilometre section of segregated airspace over Cardigan Bay, where drones can fly in safety away from commercial and military aircraft.  

Phil Briggs, Lead Project Engineer, QinetiQ, said: “Where better to host this challenge than an environment dedicated to testing real unmanned aircraft? We think Snowdonia Aerospace Centre will offer the participants a taste of what it’s really like to work with unmanned systems and hopefully inspire them to consider careers in the sector. It’s an industry that has enormous potential for future growth, offering opportunities as pilots, in design and manufacture, and in test and evaluation. We’re proud to lend our UAS expertise and facilities to give these young engineers an enjoyable and eye-opening experience.”

Teams of undergraduates from national and international universities are already busy designing and building their unmanned aircraft, which will compete in a two-day ‘fly-off’ on 19 and 20 June 2017. They will be challenged to transport a package as quickly and accurately as possible.

IMechE’s Rod Williams, Chief Scrutineer of the UAS Challenge, said: “The IMechE UAS Challenge provides an excellent focus for these engineering students to participate as a team in developing a capable air vehicle, during their final year studies, realising concept through functional design into physical production and operation. To have the competition based at Llanbedr is an outstanding chance for them to see this purpose-built trials and evaluation facility at the heart of unmanned air systems development for the UK.  Hopefully, it will give them a chance to see the opportunities available and confirm their intent to work in the industry on graduation.”

Lee Paul, Chief Executive Officer of Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, said: “We are delighted that QinetiQ will host the IMechE UAS Challenge at Llanbedr Airfield. We have invested substantially in the unique environment and extensive facilities, which this event will make available to Universities across the world, and hopefully to potential future UAS operators.”

Now in its third year, the UAS Challenge is one of four student engineering challenge events run by the Institution, alongside the Formula Student, the Railway Challenge and the Design Challenge.