Whichever plane performed best would win its makers a prize of US$1.35 million
Two years ago, aircraft designers were invited to build an electric airplane that could fly at least 200 miles (322 km) in under two hours, using less than one gallon (3.8 liters) of fuel per occupant – or the electrical equivalent. Whichever plane performed best would win its makers a prize of US$1.35 million. That was the idea behind the Green Flight Challenge, a NASA competition that was managed by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation, and funded by Google. Well, the challenge wrapped up last week, with the winners being announced this Monday. Pennsylvania’s Pipistrel-USA team took first place, for its Taurus G4.
The twin-fuselage aircraft has seating for four people, and a 145-kilowatt brushless electric motor that turns a two-bladed propeller, which is mounted between the fuselages. Its wingspan is approximately 75 feet (23 meters).
Out of 14 aircraft originally entered in the competition, it was one of three to make it through to the finals, held at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California. Of those finalists, both the Taurus and the second-prize-winning eGenius doubled the required fuel efficiency, in that they each used the equivalent of just over half a gallon of fuel per occupant.
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