NASA is Painting the Skies Green Over Santa Rosa

NASA and Centennial Challenge partner organization, the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency, or CAFE, Foundation of Santa Rosa, Calif., are encouraging aerospace enthusiasts to attend the Green Flight Centennial Challenge, set to be held at the Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1.

Teams from across the United States will test electric, biofueled and hybrid-powered aircraft, vying to be the most fuel-efficient small aircraft in the world. They're competing for a competition purse of $1.65 million -- the largest aviation prize ever offered.

Competitors will tackle a fuel efficiency competition Sept. 27 and a speed competition Sept. 29. To win the fuel competition, an aircraft must fly 200 miles in less than two hours, using less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or an equivalent amount of electricity. If more than one aircraft meets that criteria, the competitor whose aircraft delivers the best combination of speed and efficiency will take home the prize, according to the competition guidelines.

The Green Flight Challenge's winning aircraft must exceed a fuel efficiency equivalent to 200 passenger miles per gallon (pax mpge). In comparison, typical general aviation aircraft have fuel efficiencies in the range of 5-50 pax mpge. Large passenger aircraft are in the 50-100 pax mpge range.

The winning aircraft also must achieve an average speed of at least 100 mph over a 200-mile race circuit; take off from a distance of less than 2,000 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle; and deliver a decibel level below 78 dBA at full power takeoff, as measured from a 250-foot sideline.

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