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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. 97-082


A Princeton University student has won the award for Design with Greatest Retrofit Potential in the 1997 NASA/FAA General Aviation Design Competition. Jennifer Wilson, a May graduate of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, received the $500 award sponsored by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Air Safety Foundation. Bruce Landsberg, the Foundation's Executive Director presented the award today to Wilson at a special ceremony at the Experimental Aircraft Association's Annual Convention and Fly-In.

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

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 award was given because Wilson's design has the greatest potential for being retrofitted in currently operating general aviation aircraft. Wilson's design -- "The Inclusion of a Head-Up Display to Improve General Aviation Safety" -- presents innovative ideas for the simplification 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 review panel of industry, NASA and FAA experts The panel cited the simplicity and uncluttered presentation of information in Wilson's approach, which uses symbols which would 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.

The AOPA Air Safety Foundation is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to providing aviation education and safety programs for general aviation. The foundation's mission is to save lives and promote accident prevention through pilot education.

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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