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For Release: August 1, 1997

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington, DC

Keith Henry
Langley Research Center

Mary Sandy
Virginia Space Grant Consortium

RELEASE NO. 97-079


A joint design effort by student teams from three Kansas universities took first place in the 1997 NASA/FAA General Aviation Design Competition. The schools teaming for this design are University of Kansas, Lawrence; Wichita State University, Wichita; and Kansas State University, Manhattan and Salina campuses. The award was presented today in a special ceremony 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 national competition seeks to involve university student teams from U.S. engineering schools in the revitalization of the general aviation sector. Revitalization goals present open-ended design challenges that stimulate engineering students and provide the basis for a quality educational experience, while helping students understand the economic relevance of general aviation. 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 competition, 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 Kansas team 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 Aero-Diesel engine and features an unusual, inverted "V" tail.

The team cited that most kit planes are sold with the understanding that the owners will spend about 1,500 hours building the kit plane. The Adagio would require only 200 hours because of the use of pre-assembled/pre-fabricated structures. The use of these structures 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. This is the second time the Kansas team has garnered the first place award in this prestigious and highly competitive competition. In 1996, the team won second place.

The review panel of government, industry and university general aviation 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.

As first place winners, design team members will share a cash award of $3,000 while the University of Kansas and Wichita State University Aerospace Engineering Departments and the Kansas State University Mechanical Engineering Department will share a $5,000 cash award.

The 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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