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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. 97-081


Students from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering took third place in the NASA/FAA General Aviation Design Competition. The award was presented today in a special ceremony at the Experimental Aircraft Association's Annual Convention and Fly-In at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and FAA Acting Administrator Barry L. 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 Virginia Tech student team designed a sport utility aircraft named the VenTure. A single engine, propeller diver, fixed-wing amphibious aircraft, the VenTure could 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 design uses a powerful and light Zoche Aero-Deisel engine with record low emission levels. The aircraft design incorporates many elements which enhance safety and add passenger comfort. Dr. James Marchman, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, served as faculty advisory to the team. The students will share a $1,000 cash award.

The review panel of government, industry and university experts gave high marks to the versatility of the aircraft design and the marketing approach taken by the students in addressing the excitement and recreational aspects of aviation. The design reflected sound engineering and excellent technical work with a multidisciplinary approach.

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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