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For Release: Dec. 9, 1997

H. Keith Henry
NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
(Phone: 757-864-6120

Les Dorr
FAA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
(Phone: 202-267-3461)

Dick Knapinski
Experimental Aircraft Association, Oshkosh, Wis.
(Phone: 920-426-6523)

Major Ginger Jabour
Air Force Wright Labs, Dayton, Ohio
(Phone: 937-257-3868)

RELEASE NO. 97-129


A team of students from four Kansas universities has won the "Design It, Build It, Fly It" award in the National General Aviation Design Competition, a first-of-its-kind competition sponsored by NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Air Force and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).

The team received a $10,000 award in a ceremony held at Wichita State University on Dec. 9. At project completion, the team will fly the award-winning design as a highlight of the EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In at Oshkosh, Wis. in August 1998 and receive a $500 award from the EAA.

The universities are University of Kansas, Lawrence; Wichita State University, Wichita; Kansas State University, Manhattan; and Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kan.

The competition seeks to involve students at U.S. engineering universities in a national effort to rebuild the U.S. general aviation sector through design efforts that meet general aviation revitalization goals. In the competition, student teams competed for an opportunity to take a well-evolved design concept with innovative general aviation applications to a proof-of-concept phase. Flight concept demonstrations included approaches such as radio controlled models, prototype flight testing, in-flight simulation, or software in-flight demonstrations.

The Kansas Design Team's proposal is for two advanced radio-controlled (RC) models of a next generation, turbofan-powered, general aviation aircraft. Most small airplanes flying today are equipped with technologies at least 30 years old, including piston-propeller engines that fly at speeds below 250 mph. The aircraft design being modeled by the Kansas team is based on the new FJX-2 small turbofan engine being developed by Williams International, Walled Lake, Mich. and the NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio. This engine offers potential for a faster and quieter aircraft design capable of flying at higher altitudes than piston-powered aircraft. Dubbed "Aladdin" by the team, the design includes a study of user-friendly (de-coupled) flight control systems predicted to offer a major improvement in ease of operation. The team hopes its work will encourage the general aviation industry to transition from piston to small turbofan engines.

The students, under the guidance of faculty advisors, plan to build two quarter-scale models of a four-passenger, single-engine aircraft. The first model will be flown as a conventionally-controlled, jet-powered RC model. The second will be used to gather data on the full-sized aircraft configuration. The model will contain instruments, including a Global Position System (GPS) receiver, to provide real-time flight and position information. This data will be used to predict flying characteristics of the full-sized aircraft. The second model will be controlled via real-time imaging on a ground station that simulates the pilot's field of view. The image will be transmitted from a video camera in the model.

In addition to the $10,000 Design It, Build It, Fly It award, the team will also receive support from the Wichita State University National Institute for Aviation Research; Finley's Hobbies, Air Capitol Hobbies and Precision Pattern, all of Wichita; Foam Enterprises, Inc., Minneapolis; Shell Resins, Robart Manufacturing and The Turbine Connection, all of Plainfield, Ill.; and the Wichita State University Student Government Association. The students will produce a peer-reviewed technical report on the flight testing. The aviation safety review portion of the project will take place at EAA's Sun and Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla. in April 1998. The Kansas Design Team will also provide presentations and demonstrations at the EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In at Oshkosh, Wis. in August 1998.

The National General Aviation Design Competition also provides a range of awards for student teams developing paper designs tied to national general aviation revitalization goals. Letters of intent to participate in this phase of the competition are due by Jan. 30, 1998. The competition is managed for the sponsors by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. For more information, contact or call 757/865-0726.

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