Announcing the 2008 General Aviation Technology Challenge.
NASA and CAFE have partnered to create a new PAV Challenge for 2008. It will be a "Pentaviathon" to advance five vital General Aviation Technologies: noise reduction, fuel efficiency, speed, safety and ease of use. NASA has named the $300,000 flight competition "The General Aviation Technology Challenge". Registration for the competition officially opened on December 23, 2007. It will be conducted at CAFE's Flight Test Center in Santa Rosa, California from August 2-10, 2008.
The Green Prize
The first-ever "Green Prize" for transportation will test true "Environmental Efficiency". Aviation is the ideal domain for this prize. Personal aircraft can help prevent having to blight our eco-system with $20M per mile roadbed and bridges. They travel straight "as the crow flies", shortening distances between destinations. They save the time and fuel wasted when vehicles are stuck in traffic. PAVs can travel 3-8 times faster than the 35 mph average trip speed of cars. They can haul their payload over mountains, lakes, even oceans and can use renewable fuels. Therefore, PAVs competing for the Green Prize will advance all of the valuable measures of energy use; MPG as well as speed and payload.
The Green Prize aims at promoting renewable energy as well. It will expressly reward the efficient use of both bio-fuel and electricity in transportation. More explanation of the Green Prize can be found here.
The Community Noise Prize
Reducing vehicle noise emissions is vitally important to general aviation. It is the single biggest factor in sustaining GA airports and is essential to the building of new landing strips. The new GAT Challenge places a major priority on the reduction of noise emitted into the community.
A special category prize, the Quietest LSA prize, will be included in the 2008 competition. This prize recognizes the importance of advancing noise reduction technologies for this growing category of affordable, STOL LSA aircraft. If made quiet enough, LSAs can evolve into playing a large role in future pilot training and making general aviation accessible to more of the population.
More details about the Community Noise Prize and Quietest LSA Prize can be found here.
Aviation Safety Prize
Making personal aircraft safer and easier to fly is a primary goal of the new GAT Challenge. This $50,000 prize will recognize achievement in implementing electronic pilot assistance (eCFI) along with rewarding outstanding handling qualities. Test pilots will evaluate each team's aircraft with the "company pilot" aboard and present their findings to a "Jury". Jurors will be selected mainly from among the most experienced and respected aviation, science and automotive press, along with CAFE and NASA officials. Jurors will be given the opportunity to have a familiarization flight in each aircraft with either the test pilot or company pilot.
The eCFI tasks to be evaluated are prioritized toward the most common causes of GA fatalities—loss of control and stalling. The Handling Qualities evaluated will be the standard ones and those most relevant to aviation safety and ease of use.
The official rules posted on this site will be supplemented soon with a detailed scoring system for awarding points for the Aviation Safety Prize. More details about the Aviation Safety Prize can be found here.
The CAFE 400 Prize
The $25,000 CAFE 400 Prize is a 400 mile cross-country air race over Northern California. However, each aircraft's speed result is tempered by its takeoff distance capability as well as by its fuel efficiency. Burn too much fuel in the CAFE 400 and you are disqualified.
The CAFE 400 name derives from the 10 years of Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency races during the 1980's. Those races were similar to this one, in that aircraft were scored on a combination of their speed, MPG and cabin payload. Read more about the CAFE 400 competitions here.
More details about the CAFE 400 Prize can be found here.