NASA and the non-profit CAFE Foundation have partnered to create a new Personal Air Vehicles (PAVs) Challenge for 2008 to advance five vital General Aviation Technologies: noise reduction, fuel efficiency, speed, safety and ease of use of the PAVs.
As part of the $300,000 General Aviation Technology Challenge next summer in Santa Rosa, California, NASA will fund the first Green Prize for PAVs. The CAFE Foundation is the flight test agency selected by NASA to conduct the event, and has published details and the official competition rules on its website.
The competition organizers expect to attract a showcase of innovative experimental and roadable aircraft (flying cars) as well as vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOL). The leading examples of Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) will also compete in this year’s event.
Envisioned are 50+ MPG, easy to fly and near-all-weather personal aircraft that offer trip speeds 3-5 times faster than cars and that can land on very short runways. Such self-operated PAVs with advanced computerized cockpits can provide safe, affordable, eco-friendly, on-demand transportation, says the CAFE Foundation.
NASA aeronautics developed the PAV concept to provide a more distributed and less centralized system of air travel that could contribute to a more efficient transportation system. NASA has predicted that up to 45% of all miles traveled in the future could be in PAVs, thereby relieving congestion at metropolitan hub airports and the freeways that surround them, reducing the need to build new highways and saving much of the 6.8 billion gallons of fuel wasted in surface gridlock each year.
To stimulate rapid innovation and progress in PAV performance, NASA Centennial Challenges has funded $2M in cash prizes for a multi-year flight competition called the PAV Challenge, modeled after the X Prize. The 2008 GAT Challenge is the second instance of the competition.
The major prizes of the 2008 competition are:
Community Noise Prize: $150,000
Green Prize: $50,000
Aviation Safety Prize (safety and ease of use): $50,000
CAFE 400 Prize (400 mile race for speed): $25,000
Quietest LSA Prize: $10,000
The Green Prize.To win the Green Prize in the PAV Challenge, the competing aircraft must score the highest MPGe, or equivalent miles per gallon, based upon fuel price, fuel density and the payload carried. MPGe is evaluated after the aircraft flies the CAFE 400 race course.
The floor of the prize winning starts at 30 MPGe for a 2 seat aircraft carrying 400 pounds of payload during its CAFE 400 race. The winning aircraft must also average at least 100 statute mph during the race, including allowance for its GTT or ground travel time.
GTT respects the time required to park the aircraft and then walk, bike or drive to and from the destination doorstep. GTT is proportioned according to the aircraft’s takeoff distance, and is shortest for those with the ability to takeoff vertically (VTOL). Long takeoff distances imply using long runway airports that are usually farther from town and require longer GTTs to reach the destination doorway.
Prices for fuels and electricity in the Green Prize have been selected from national averages. They reflect some subsidy for biofuel as well as a slight premium for obtaining mogas at an airport location. All fuels must be approved and inspected by CAFE.
Each aircraft competing in the Green Prize will be carefully weighed on the CAFE scales before and after its CAFE 400 race flight in order to determine its fuel burn. The CAFE 400 race course is a VFR cross-country flight over beautiful Northern California that includes several climbs and descents, with some pylon check-points as high as 7000 feet MSL. Teams competing for the Green Prize must optimize every facet of their aircraft’s cross-country performance—aerodynamic, thermodynamic, structural and propulsive efficiency, as well as navigational accuracy, use of wind, weather and upslope effect.
Teams comprised of designers and craftsmen from the Experimental Aircraft Association, aerospace engineers, graduate students, venture capitalists and aircraft manufacturers are expected to compete. The CAFE Foundation website provides teams with a library of NASA research and expert consultants to help them prepare for the event. CAFE is now accepting discounted early bird team registrations for the competition and will offer select sponsors the opportunity to participate in the naming of the main prizes.