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For Release: August 1, 1997

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(202) 358-1726

Keith Henry
Langley Research Center

Mary Sandy
Virginia Space Grant Consortium

RELEASE NO. 97-078


Oshkosh, Wis. NASA and the FAA today announced the winners of their 1997 National General Aviation Design Competition. The ceremony was held at the Experimental Aircraft Association's Annual Convention and Fly-In at Oshkosh, Wisc. NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and FAA Acting Administrator Barry Valentine presented the awards.

The competition, which is in its third year, allows university students to participate in a major national effort to rebuild the U.S. general aviation sector. For the purpose of the contest, general aviation aircraft are defined as single-pilot, fixed-wing, single-engine, propeller-driven aircraft for 2 - 6 passengers. Teams of undergraduate and graduate students from U.S. engineering schools work with faculty advisors to address design challenges for a small aircraft transportation system. The competition seeks to raise student awareness of the value of general aviation for business and personal use, while promoting an understanding of its economic relevance. NASA and the FAA believe that this kind of competition serves to stimulate breakthroughs in technology and their application in the general aviation market.

The national goals for revitalizing the industry present excellent, open-ended design challenges that stimulate engineering students and provide the basis for a quality, real-world educational experience. Teams were asked to address design challenges in one or more of the following technical areas:
Integrated cockpit systems; propulsion; noise and emissions; integrated design and manufacturing; aerodynamics; operating infrastructure; and new designs such as air-cars. Students may consider designs for an entire aircraft or for a system or subsystem.

The first place award was presented to a student team from three Kansas universities: the University of Kansas, Wichita State University, and Kansas State University. The team's design offers a four-passenger, kit plane "for the pilot with limited resources." The design claims payload, range, cruise velocity, take-off and landing field lengths, rate of climb, and handling qualities comparable to a Cessna 172R for about half the cost, or $75,000. The team calls its aircraft "Adagio" in honor of its potential for graceful flight reminiscent of the adagio musical movement of a symphony. The design uses a Zoche AeroDiesel Engine Z0 02A and features an unusual, inverted "V" tail. The team believes that its design can be built in about 200 hours, a fraction of the time required for current kit planes. The short assembly time for the Adagio is due to use of pre-assembled/pre-fabricated structures. This approach would require a new interpretation of FAA's rule which requires an owner to build and/or fabricate at least 50% of a kit-type plane.

The review panel of government, industry and university experts praised the Kansas design for its outstanding technical effort, as well as its practicality, direct and innovative attack on cost issues, and aesthetics. The team's focus on making ownership and operation of a general aviation plane more affordable ties well to national general aviation revitalization goals.

This is the second time the Kansas team has garnered the first place award in this prestigious and highly competitive competiton. In 1996, the team won second place. As the first place winner, design team members will share a cash award of $3,000 while the participating unversity departments will share a $5,000 cash award. The team's lead faculty advisors are: Dr. Jan Roskam, Dr. Ken Barnard, Dr. Byron Jones and Dr. Gawad Nagati.

The second place award was presented to students from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. The Penn State team design, dubbed "The Stingray," won praise from the review panel as a well engineered aircraft design with realistic costing. The panel cited the team for excellent targeting of general aviation revitalization goals. The design features a high-performance aircraft, with a high-power, turbocharged engine and retractable landing gear. A low-wing, pusher configuration is used, with advanced composite materials offering lighter weight and improved aerodynamic efficiency. Crashworthiness, good stall characteristics, structural simplification for ease of manufacturing, and a user-friendly, multifunctional-display cockpit were also hallmarks of the award-winning design. Dr. Hubert C. "Skip" Smith served as the team's faculty advisor. As the second place winner, team members will share a cash award of $2,000.

The third place award was presented to a student design team from Virginia Tech. The team will share a $1,000 cash award. The Virginia Tech design is for a sport utility aircraft named the "VenTure." A single-engine, propeller diver, fixed-wing amphibious aircraft, the VenTure can take off and land on water and then taxi onto land, or land on standard runways through the use of a hydraulic retraction landing gear system. The energy efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft uses a powerful and light Aero-Deisel engine with record low emission levels. The aircraft incorporates many design elements which enhance safety and add passenger comfort.Dr. James Marchman, Professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, served as faculty advisory to the team.

A special award for Greatest Retrofit Potential was given to Jennifer Wilson, a Princeton University student. The award was given because Wilson's design offered the greatest potential for being retrofitted in currently operating general aviation aircraft. Wilson, a senior and May graduate majoring in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, received the $500 award which is sponsored by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Air Safety Foundation. Wilson's design presents innovative ideas for simplication of cockpit instrumentation through the inclusion of a head-up display as an approach to reducing pilot error. The intuitive display drew praise from the competition's expert review panel for its simplicity and uncluttered presentation of information using symbols which have universal appeal, cross language barriers and minimize the use of numerical data. Simple and effective visuals provide critical take off and landing data, situational awareness, engine/fuel information, altitude data and stall warnings. Wilson's faculty advisor is Professor Enoch Durbin of Princeton's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Wilson's award is unique in that it is the first in the competition ever given to a design submission by an individual. All previous awards in the prestigious and highly competitive competition have gone to student teams.

The National General Aviation Design Competition is coordinated for NASA and the FAA by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. Guidelines for the fourth annual competition, to be held during the 1997-1998 academic year, will be available from the Consortium in August at 757/865-0726 or from

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