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Ptero 08-05-2009 02:13 PM

The Hummer of the Skies MPG Competition
NASA Offers a $1.5 Million Prize for a Fast and Fuel-Efficient Aircraft
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has teamed up with a non-profit foundation to offer a $1.5 million prize for a highly fuel-efficient aircraft. The Green Flight Challenge, unveiled last week, calls for teams to create an aircraft that can average at least 100 miles per hour on a 200-mile flight, while achieving greater than 200 passenger-miles per gallon. Passenger-miles per gallon are defined as the fuel economy of the aircraft in miles per gallon divided by the number of passengers, including the pilots in this case, and the Green Flight Challenge could include aircraft carrying a single pilot or any number of passengers.

The aircraft that can achieve the best combination of speed and fuel efficiency will win the grand prize, while an additional prize of $150,000 will go to the team that achieves the best performance while running on at least 99% biofuel. If no teams achieve the minimum performance requirements, an honorary prize of $153,000 will go to the best-performing team that achieves at least 80 miles per hour and 160 passenger-miles per gallon. The NASA Innovative Partnerships Program is providing the prize purse for the competition, while the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation will administer the contest. Registration for the competition is underway and will continue through next year, while the competition will be held in July 2011 in Santa Rosa, California.


Sonja Alexander
Headquarters, Washington
sonja.r.alexander at

Katherine Barnstorff
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.,
kathy.barnstorff at

July 31, 2009 MEDIA ADVISORY : 09-178 NASA and Cafe Announce Green Aircraft Challenge
WASHINGTON -- The NASA Innovative Partnerships Program and the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation today announced the Green Flight Challenge. The contest is a flight efficiency competition for aircraft that can average at least 100 mph on a 200-mile flight while achieving greater than 200 passenger miles per gallon.

The prize for the aircraft with the best performance is $1.5 million. The competition is scheduled for July 2011 at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, Calif. A variety of innovative experimental aircraft using electrical, solar, bio-fuel or hybrid propulsion are expected to enter. Several major universities and aircraft builders have expressed their intention to enter teams in the challenge.

To win, teams must use cutting-edge technologies in mechanical and electrical engineering, structures, aerodynamics and thermodynamics. As a national showcase of "green" technology, the challenge is expected to help advance all three of the major climate mitigation initiatives: efficiency, conservation and zero-carbon energy sources. These technologies will support advances in aviation and may have broader applications in transportation and energy storage.

The Green Flight Challenge is administered for NASA by CAFE. Founded in 1981, CAFE is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the understanding of personal aircraft technologies through research, analysis and education.

NASA is providing the prize money as part of the Centennial Challenges program. The program seeks innovative solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation from diverse and unconventional sources. Competitors may not receive government funding for their entries in this challenge.

For information about CAFE and competing in this challenge, visit:
CAFE Foundation

For more information about Centennial Challenges, visit:
Centennial Challenges

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:
NASA - Home

2011 CAFE Green Flight Challenge Rules


The CGFC will be a NASA-funded prize flight competition to be held from July 10 to17
of 2011. All flight attempts are to be flown at Competition Weight.

Main Prize: $1,500,000.00 US for the one vehicle with 100 mph AND
200 Passenger-MPGe that achieves the best combination of mph
and Passenger-MPGe by the following formula:

Score = 1/((1/mph) + (2/Passenger-MPGe)) *

Other Prizes: Bio-Fuel Prize and Honorary Achievement Prize

Performance Required:

Range: 200 statute miles, with 30 min. reserve, day VFR at 4000’
MSL over non-mountainous, sparsely-populated coastal terrain
Efficiency: 200 Passenger-MPGe energy equivalency
Speed: 100 mph average on each of two 200 mile flights
Minimum Speed: 52 mph in level flight without stall, power and flaps allowed
Takeoff Distance: 2000 feet from brake release to clear a 50 foot obstacle
Community Noise: 78 dBA at full power takeoff, measured 250 feet sideways to
takeoff brake release
Handling Qualities: Acceptable on all 7 basic handling qualities. See Appendix C.

Features Required:

Passengers: Upright seats with adequate volume for a 6-foot tall, 200 lb
adult. See Appendices D and J.
Wingspan: Must fit inside 44-foot wide hangar for weighing (wingfold is
acceptable). Height, length and landing gear footprint limits are
defined in Appendix B.
Vehicle Weights: 6500 lb. with 4500 lb. on main gear and 2000 lb. on nose-
wheel or tail-wheel
Field of View: Acceptable to FAA licensing authorities and FAA AC25.773-1
Control System: Must provide dual controls if two or more seats
Payload Carried: 200 lbs per seat. Dual pilots if two or more seats. 200 lbs per
seat sandbag ballast in all seats not occupied by pilot/co-pilot
Seating Configuration: Tandem seating is allowed, but vehicles with 3 or more seats
must place at least 2 seats directly side-by-side. Rapid exit
required for all seats. Appendix D
Fuel/Energy Use: Energy consumed: 1 gallon of 87 octane unleaded auto gasoline
= 115,000 BTU. See table of energy equivalents for all
allowable fuels/energy sources in Appendices E & F.
Fuels/Energy Allowed: Avgas 100 LL, Jet-A, diesel, unleaded auto gasoline, bio-fuels,
H2, synthetics, electricity. See Appendix F.
ePower Measurement: Electric-powered aircraft will use a CAFE-provided power meter
to accurately determine energy used during the competition
Flightworthiness: Valid US FAA Airworthiness Certificate for unrestricted day
VFR flight in the Continental United States, proof of structural
limits (Appendix K), ASTM 2316 compliant vehicle ballistic
parachute and all applicable inspections. Appendix L.
Pilot Qualifications: FAA qualified for operating experimental aircraft, with current
medical, BFR, 500 flight hours total and 10 flight hours in make
& model
Eligibility: Team leader must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident
Early Bird Entry Fee: $4000 if submitted before December 31, 2009
Design Proposal: Required before acceptance by CAFE into the event
Design Freeze: After official registration and weigh-in no modifications to the
vehicle are allowed.

Additional Relevant Documents:
Team Agreement and all of its Appendices, FAA AC25.773-1 (field of view regulations)

Updates and FAQs: Visit

Additional Requirements:
Nothing except water ballast may be jettisoned from the vehicle during flight; weight of
discarded water ballast will be scored as fuel consumed

* Passenger-MPGe = number of passengers (pilots, passengers or seats with equivalent
ballast) multiplied by the calculated vehicle miles per gallon equivalent for the fuel
and/or electricity referenced to the average energy content of 1 gallon of 87 octane
unleaded auto gasoline (115,000 BTU) (for example: 200 passenger MPGe = 2 seats x
100 MPGe for a 2-passenger aircraft.)

tjts1 08-05-2009 08:17 PM


Efficiency: 200 Passenger-MPGe energy equivalency
What does this have to do with a Hummer?

Big Dave 08-05-2009 10:09 PM

Looks like we would need something that looks like a stretch Vari-Eze - one of Rutan's early designs.

This kind of efficiency for a four-seater carry heavier than FAA-standard passengers screams for four-place tandem seating, and the minimum wings necessary to meet the takeoff requirements.

Needless to say, a diesel engine is needed for this kind of fuel efficiency.

The speed requirement is slower than a Cessna 172 or Piper Cherokee 140.

The requirements give us an insight to the rigors of aircraft testing. Car guys are not that rigorous. Maybe we should be.

Ptero 08-05-2009 11:43 PM

Max weight specified in the rules is exactly the same as a 2008 Hummer, less spare tire. 6500 lbs. I think that's way too heavy.

tjts1 08-06-2009 12:00 AM


robchalmers 08-06-2009 02:19 AM

ducted turbo fan with pulse fuel system for cruisin....

elhigh 08-06-2009 08:27 AM

Well, this contest is already won. Somebody just needs to roll up in a Quickie II. If I recall correctly - and this is information I'm trying to dredge up from the 80s, so bits may have fallen through the flashback holes - the Q2 delivered over 80mpg, carried 2, and cruised around 135mph. The prototype used a two-cylinder engine cut down from a VW 1600. It wasn't a fast plane by any means, but I don't care how you measure, if you can average over 100mph in a straight line vs. 60mph on roads, you're gonna get there sooner.

Did somebody at NASA totally forget that people having building planes for a long time? There's a lot of really thrifty models out there. How about a Cessna 182 RG (my personal favorite, one of the most attractive highwing designs I've ever seen) - I think it'll carry four and deliver 30mpg - that's 120 passenger miles per gallon.

some_other_dave 08-06-2009 12:16 PM

Elhigh, you need to check your math. 80 MPG * 2 people = 160 MPG, which is less than 200 MPG. So a slightly-modified Quickie should do the job... But someone has to do the modifications!

BTW, I attended a presentation by an airline representative about a year ago. He mentioned that the newest version of the venerable 737 with a full load of passengers got per-passenger fuel economy equivalent to the "average SUV". I think it was on the order of 12 PMPG, so that assumes just the driver in the SUV--a valid assumption in most cases...


elhigh 08-06-2009 07:00 PM


Originally Posted by some_other_dave (Post 119877)
Elhigh, you need to check your math. 80 MPG * 2 people = 160 MPG, which is less than 200 MPG. ...


Yeah, somewhere around going-home time I started to wonder whether I'd read that right.

Maybe I should tip just a wee bit less whiskey into my morning coffee.

aerohead 08-08-2009 02:50 PM

Rutan Bros.
NASA could just send a check to Scaled Composites out in Mojave,Calif..They probably already satisfied this design envelope 30-years ago.

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