The PASSAROLA Team was the first visible result after the creation of the Autonomous Section of Applied Aeronautics (S3A) of Instituto Superior Técnico’s Student’s Association. With the support of a structure created on the aftermath of the ACC’2009 by several colleagues from AERACES 2009 and Equipa_0 with the purposes of assuring that future teams participating on the ACC would have much more theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as more institutional, logistical and financial support, the PASSAROLA Team managed to have the best ever score of a team from IST in international editions of the Air Cargo Challenge – 6th place.


The competition was leaded by the University of Beira Interior (Portugal), University of Munich (Germany) and Tsinghua University (China), respectively. The countries with most participating teams were Portugal, with 6 teams, and Poland and Turkey, with 3 teams each, in a total of 29 registered teams: 28 from all over Europe, plus 1 from China.

The Team:





Hugo Marques

Aerospace Engineering



Pedro Albuquerque



Tiago Ferreira



David Melo



Diogo Vicente



João Santos

Electrical & Computers Engineering



Pedro Precioso

Secondary School



The Aircraft:

The aircraft itself underwent several improvements throughout the project was a conventional high wing inverted T-tail configuration, with its main materials being plywood, balsawood and carbon fiber tubes covered with shrink film. The aeroplane had 2.1m wingspan conventional flaperons and a Gurney’s flap on the inboard constant chord wing section. The outboard wing had a constant taper ratio, from a root chord of 0.4m to a tip chord of 0.16m, using the high lift low Reynolds selig1223 airfoil. The H-tail was a rectangle with 0.6m span and 0.2m chord. On the last flight, the aeroplane had an empty weight of 1.820kg making, (exceeding by 20g the maximum empty weight acceptable according to the contest’s legislation).

The Competition:

Although the team had many setbacks throughout the project, with many crashes, with the wind tunnel becoming out of order in the worst possible moment, with a pilot that couldn’t go to Germany and had to be replaced less than two weeks before the competition, the team arrived in Germany and managed to complete three successful flights (although only two were validated, since the take-off distance was exceeded in the 2nd flight) and lifted 5.2kg in its last flight.

Besides this, the team granted the 1st place in the sum of the non-flight components, namely in the sum of the final report, drawings, oral presentations and penalties scores. The score was the 2nd best Iberian result in the contest (only behind the University of Beira Interior, also from Portugal) and was the 3rd best result of teams without professors in the team, in a total of 21 teams.

No Comment:

Always working in the improvement and on structural weight savings before and during the contest, in the week before the competition, the team slept only 3 out of 8 nights!

Among the most unforeseen and funny things that happened to the team we can cite David Melo (S3A’s treasury man) and Diogo Vicente (S3A’s vice-president) putting down a 30m height pine tree where the model had been trapped the day before at 6am in the day the team left to Germany; Pedro Albuquerque (S3A’s president) being questioned by the Spanish police while he was doing in the disabled deskat 3am in Barcelona airport during a night scale in Catalonia; Hugo Marques saying nonsenses and Tiago Ferreira with high levels of adrenaline because of long sleepless working sessions, not to mention Pedro Precioso throwing up three times during the flight to Stuttgart.

It’s worthwhile to mention the pilot’s performance in the non-valid flight. With the aircraft CG excessively forward the model didn’t manage to gain altitude but the pilot managed not to crash it and made an impressive flight that never exceeded 2m altitude and landed safely, deserving a huge applause from the audience present in the aerodrome.


The team is extremely grateful to Professors Fernando Lau, Luís Eça, João Oliveira, Azinheira and Agostinho; to Colleagues Kevin Spencer, Horácio Moreira, Jorge Silva, Diogo Monteiro and Ana Oliveira; to Mr. Manuel Cunha and Mr. João Silva; and to João Santos (former pilot) who indicated Pedro Precioso (new pilot), the former for his valuable help and the latest for this availability.

To all S3A members who helped throughout the project.

To all project’s sponsors: BPI bank, Dept. Mechanical Engineering (IST), Scientific Area of Applied Mechanics and Aerospace (IST), the Rectory of the Technical University of Lisbon (UTL).

To SV Modelismo & HP Modelismo.

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