Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara: Santa Clara University, 2015.

First Advisor

Nik Djordjevic

Second Advisor

Christopher Kitts


Many rural areas of developing countries lack the necessary transportation infrastructure to have reliable access to basic needs. This is particularly true for medical supplies. To combat the issue of insufficient access to vaccines in developing areas, the SkyPort project has developed the SkyPort UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). The SkyPort UAV has the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities of a quadcopter, as well as the efficient, sustained flight of a fixed-wing aircraft. It provides a cheaper, quicker, and safer delivery method than existing alternatives for vaccines in areas that lack a reliable transportation infrastructure. The role of the SkyPort Airframe Design Team was to design and build the primary support structure of the UAV, which will house the payload, controls, and propulsion systems being designed by the other two SkyPort teams. The airframe consists of a lightweight and durable fuselage, wing, tail, and framing subsystems and it is designed to be modular so that parts are easy to replace and require minimal maintenance. Primary materials used in construction were foam, carbon fiber, and aluminum. Testing of the frame yielded a weight of 8.63 kg, minimum foam strength of 1.70 MPa, and a minimum factor of safety of 16 for the structural members of the frame. Although the weight of the airframe is higher than the desired weight, this was necessary in order to satisfy the strength requirements and protect sensitive electrical components during initial flight tests. In the future, this extra weight could be decreased by using less carbon fiber, lower density foam, smaller, lighter material for the structural members, or smaller fasteners.