NASA has awarded the largest prize in aviation history, created to inspire the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft and spark the start of a new electric airplane industry. The technologies demonstrated by the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by Google, competitors may end up in general aviation aircraft, spawning new jobs and new industries for the 21st century.
The first place prize of $1.35 million was awarded to team Pipistrel-USA.com of State College, Pa. The second place prize of $120,000 went to team eGenius, of Ramona, Calif.
The winning aircraft had to fly 200 miles in less than two hours and use less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or the equivalent in electricity. The first and second place teams, which were both electric-powered, achieved twice the fuel efficiency requirement of the competition, meaning they flew 200 miles using just over a half-gallon of fuel equivalent per passenger.
NASA has just announced that Pipistrel-USA’s Taurus G4 aircraft won first prize in its Green Flight Challenge for practical electric aircraft (Photo: NASA)
This week’s competition marks the culmination of more than two years of aircraft design, development and testing for the teams. It represents the dawn of a new era in efficient flight and is the first time that full-scale electric aircraft have performed in competition. Collectively, the competing teams invested more than $4 million in pursuit of the challenge prize purse.