Schools Build-a-Plane Challenge

                                                                     G-YTLY and G-SBAP at the 2014 Farnborough Air Show

Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) are critical to the success of the UK. These skills are essential for a career in Aviation and it is important they are nurtured and developed. In 2012 a CBI Survey of over 500 UK employers found that 42% of employers had difficulties recruiting staff with STEM skills. It is vital that the workforce of tomorrow have the necessary skills. The survey had 68% of employers wanting government to encourage STEM subjects in schools.

In to this debate the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and its sponsors Boeing UK with the assistance of the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) launched an ambitious, innovative and exciting project, the Schools Build-a-Plane Challenge (SBAP-Challenge) in 2008. The SBAP-Challenge engages school pupils in providing young people in secondary schools to gain hands - on experience of the aircraft build process and the wider STEM subjects to encourage them in a career in the industry.

Currently there are six schools across the UK participating in the SBAP-Challenge, and each are at a different stage. Boeing UK provides a kit plane to schools, which they construct following the kit build instruction at their own pace with their own school pupils. The aim is for the aircraft to achieve its Permit to Fly allowing pupils involved with the project to carry out an experience flight and take to the skies in an aircraft they have assisted to build. The LAA provides the airworthiness and operation limitations on behalf of the Civil Aviation Authority. The SBAP-Challenge is also active in promoting STEM through outreach activities such as STEM events, Air Shows and conferences.

Please note: we are not currently seeking any further schools to take part in the Schools Build a Plane Challenge. This is so we may focus on the management of the six builds that are already part of the project.

We launched The Falcon Initiative in April 2015 where pupils can build a fully functional flight simulator. Please see the following link for further information /Careers-Education/Falcon-Initiative and the ten schools that have been selected to go through to Phase 1.


1. Motivate young people in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through a real-life experience.2.

2. Encourage young people’s awareness of the aerospace and aviation sectors, demonstrating their economic importance, and the wide array of related career paths that the sector offers.

3. Enhance RAeS’ and Boeing’s links with the local community.

4. Inspire teachers and promote interest in STEM subjects across the teaching community.

Schools work as a consortium to enable as wide participation as possible and play a key role in disseminating the project to other young people in their local areas and nationally including underrepresented groups and those in disadvantaged areas.

There are now 6 projects underway: the first led by Yateley School, then Marling School, Bridge Learning Campus, Ercall Wood, North East Wolverhampton Academy and Ernesford Grange. There will be regular updates of the schools progress and where they are at in the building process. For further information please click onto the schools names. 

Other exciting developments from schools' wider educational programmes throughout the project include a flight simulator built by Ernesford Grange Community School and housed in a real aircraft.

The schools have been involved in numerous events to promote their successes including the Farnborough Air Show, The Cosford Air Show, RIAT, Big Bang Science and Engineering Fair, as well as running their own events for the local community. This we hope will develop not only their STEM knowledge and skills but the SBAP-Challenge will have given them a wide array of skills not only in terms of future employment but soft skills that employers are also actively seeking such as teamwork, communication and project management.



Take a look at our promotional video to see how it has inspired teachers and pupils to date:



Schools Build-a-Plane Project Officer

+44 (0) 20 7670 4332
M: +44 (0) 7827 159053

Schools Build-a-Pane Impact and Outreach Officer

 +44 (0) 20 7670 4380  

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