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NASA issues award in green aviation competition

Pip

NASA has seen the future of aviation and awarded it $1.35 million.

On Monday, the space agency issued the award to team Pipistrel-USA.com of State College, Pa., as part of the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency, or CAFE, Green Flight Challenge.

The competition, sponsored by Google, was created to inspire the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft and spark the start of a new electric airplane industry, NASA said. 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.

Fourteen teams registered for competition, which took place Sept. 25 to Saturday above Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa. NASA said that the competing teams collectively invested more than $4 million in pursuit of the prize purse.

A photo gallery of the event is posted on NASA's Flickr account.

Pipistrel-USA.com and the second-place team, EGenius of Ramona, Calif. -- both of which used electric-powered aircraft -- achieved twice the fuel efficiency requirement of the competition. That means they flew 200 miles using just over a half-gallon of fuel equivalent per passenger.

"Two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction," Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team Pipistrel-USA.com, said in a statement. "Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation."

NASA, which frequently uses prize competitions to address particular problems or challenges in the aerospace industry, said that the $1.35-million award was the largest in aviation history.

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-- W.J. Hennigan

twitter.com/wjhenn

Photo: Pipistrel-USA.com's Green Flight Challenge-winning aircraft. Credit: NASA via Flickr

 
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