A new era in fuel-efficient aircraft has dawned. In an effort to inspire the development of electric airplanes and more fuel-efficient aircraft, NASA has awarded huge cash awards for green aviation.
The Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation managed the fuel-efficient aircraft competition, which received a total of fourteen registrations. The competition is part of NASA’s Space Technology Program and a part of the Centennial Challenges program. Three teams met the needed requirements of the competition and they worked for over two years in design and development of their project. The teams participated in the competition held over the skies of the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in California. Google sponsored the competition.
NASA awarded the $1.35 million first place prize to the Pipistrel-USA.com team from State College, Pa. and the $120,000 second place prize to the eGenius team from Ramona, California.
As part of the competition, the aircraft had to cover 200 mi within two hours, using less than a gallon of fuel for each occupant. Both the first and second place teams flew the 200 mi distance using the equivalent of around half-a-gallon of fuel per passenger.
NASA encourages individuals, teams and organizations to address challenges or problems through competitions. Private sector investment in these types of projects is more than the prize’s value.