The Pipistrel-USA Taurus4 lifts off the runway during the Green Flight Challenge at the Santa Rosa Airport. The Pipistrel team won $1.3 million from NASA's Centennial Challenges program for winning the 2011 Green Flight Challenge with its unique single-motor, twin-fuselage four-place aircraft. (NASA / Bill Ingalls)
NASA Dryden Engineers Aid Green Flight Challenge
Several NASA Dryden aerospace engineers had an in-person, hands-on role in reducing the potential environmental impact of future general aviation aircraft during the 2011 Green Flight Challenge at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, Calif., the last week in September.
The competition's goal was to advance technologies in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions with cleaner renewable fuels and electric aircraft.
With prize money contributed by NASA's Office of Chief Technologist through its Centennial Challenges program, the event was staged by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency, or CAFÉ, Foundation of Santa Rosa and was sponsored by Google, Inc.
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. Both winning teams' aircraft were powered by electric motors, the first time that full-scale electrically powered aircraft have performed in competition.
Tony Ginn, a manager in Dryden's Advanced Planning and Partnerships Office, was one of six judges at the event, joining five other CAFÉ foundation judges for the competition.
"It was great to have Dryden participation at such a great event," Ginn commented. "This could someday prove to be a pivotal moment in how we move from place to place. It’s nice to know that Dryden’s core expertise in flight test and data measurement was involved in verifying the outstanding performance of these prototype aircraft."
Dryden engineers Jonathan Barraclough and Jim Murray helped installed instrumentation on the four competing airplanes, as well as verifying the instrumentation CAFÉ used to measure the electrical power metrics of the competition’s electric and hybrid airplanes.
Each aircraft had to meet several stringent performance requirements in order to compete in the efficiency eMPG flight. The winning team 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. Both winning teams far exceeded that requirement, achieving almost twice the fuel efficiency standard by using the equivalent of just over a half-gallon of fuel per passenger.
Another requirement was to demonstrate a full power takeoff with a noise level of no more than 78dBA, very quiet by today’s standards.
NASA's Centennial Challenges Program provided a total of $1.65 million in prize money to the winners of the competition. The purse is the largest aviation prize ever offered and attracted 13 teams, led by American innovators. Four of those teams successfully completed their aircraft and flight qualification requirements and competed for the prize purse.
For more information on the CAFE Foundation and the Green Flight Challenge, visit:
See photos from the Green Flight Challenge at:
For more information on NASA's Centennial Challenges, visit:
For more on NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist, which manages the prize program, visit:
Gray Creech, public affairs
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center