Wed 5 Aug 2009 – The NASA Innovative Partnerships Program and the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation have announced the Green Flight Challenge. The contest is a flight efficiency competition for aircraft that can average at least 100mph on a 200-mile flight while achieving greater than 200 passenger miles per gallon. Carrying a prize of $1.5 million for the aircraft with the best performance, the competition is scheduled to take place in July 2011 at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California. A $150,000 prize for best score by a biofuelled aircraft is also offered.
A variety of innovative experimental aircraft using electrical, solar, biofuel or hybrid propulsion are expected to enter, and several major universities and aircraft builders have already expressed an interest in entering teams.
According to NASA, teams must use cutting-edge technologies in mechanical and electrical engineering, structures, aerodynamics and thermodynamics. As a national showcase of green technology, the Challenge is expected to help advance three major climate mitigation initiatives: efficiency, conservation and zero-carbon energy sources. These technologies are expected to support advances in aviation and may have broader applications in transportation and energy storage.
The Challenge is to be administered for NASA by CAFE, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the understanding of personal aircraft technologies through research, analysis and education.
NASA is providing the prize money as part of its Centennial Challenges programme, which seeks “innovative solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation from diverse and unconventional sources.” Competitors may not receive government funding for their entries in the Green Aircraft Challenge.
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