Green Flight Challenge teams successfully fly over first round of competition hurdles
The Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google has taken off! The competition in Santa Rosa, Calif., is challenging, pushing the envelope in aviation technology. As a result, only three of the 13 original registered teams remain in the competition for the NASA funded prize purse of $1.65 million. They are PhoEnix, Pipistrel-USA and e-Genius.
Yesterday was check in day for the teams and aircraft. Team Fueling notified CAFE that they were withdrawing from the competition due to mechanical problems. Emory Riddle Aeronautical University is flying demonstration flights as a noncompetitor.
Monday morning, as the early morning fog lifted, beautiful blue skies were revealed and the first round of competition took off.
A team briefing was held at 11:00 a.m. EDT to go over the plan for the days events which included completion of vehicle inspections, weight measurements, and takeoff noise and distance tests.
The noise and takeoff distance tests got underway shortly after 6:00 p.m. EDT. CAFE allowed media to go out near the runway and take video and photos as the planes took off and cleared the 50-foot height requirement and noise measurement. All were required to meet a noise level no greater than 78 dBA at full power takeoff, which was measured 250 feet sideways to take off distance. Takeoff distance was set for 2,000 feet from brake release to clear a 50-foot obstacle.
PhoEnix was first up, Pipistrel-USA was next, followed by e-Genius, and then ERAU. All were successful on their first attempts. The e-Genius team was offered and accepted a chance to do a second run due to unexpected background noise from another incoming aircraft across the field. They were again successful. All the planes were impressively quiet!
That concluded the first day of Green Flight Challenge competition, and the aircraft returned to the CAFE hanger campus to recharge their batteries for today's flight, which will cover about 200 miles. The weather is beautiful -- a perfect day for flight competition!