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NASA Offers $1.5 Million For 200MPG Aircraft 146

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the cheaper-than-doing-it-yourself dept.
coondoggie writes to mention that NASA's Green Flight Challenge is offering up to $1.5 million for an aircraft that can hit 200 passenger miles per gallon while maintaining 100 mph on a 200 mile flight. "The Challenge is intended to bring about the development and convergence of new technologies and innovations that can improve the community acceptance, efficiency, door-to-door speed, utility, environmental-friendliness, affordability and safety of future air vehicles, CAFÉ stated. Such technologies and innovations include, but are not limited to, bio-fueled propulsion, breakthroughs in batteries, motors, fuel-cells and ultra-capacitors that enable electric-powered flight, advanced high lift technologies for very short takeoff and landing distances, ultra-quiet propellers, enhanced structural efficiency by advances in material science and nano-technology and safety features such as vehicle parachutes and air-bags."
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NASA Offers $1.5 Million For 200MPG Aircraft

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  • Newton's laws of motion are now null and void, What do I win again?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by davester666 (731373)

      No they aren't null and void. These planes exist and are on the market today. They are commonly referred to as "gliders".

      • That's 200 PASSENGER miles per gallon. If you fill up my Acura TSX, it almost gets that too. It's a fair rating, I'm just saying don't compare it to a Prius.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:22PM (#28903051) Journal
    Can I get a CAR that will get half the miles per gallon at half the speed?

    I guess really I can, if I load three other people into the car, it's not too hard. Nevermind.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jd (1658)

      I was seeing sports cars advertised at 100 MPG at 100 MPH back in 1995. There were several listed in the Brands Hatch F1 program, as I recall. (Anyone who still has a copy like to verify that?)

      The current record for fuel economy at regular road speeds in a car is something like 6000 MPG. The current record for fuel economy in any petrol-driven engine without assistance from alternative sources is 9998 MPG.

      Aircraft have an advantage in that they have no ground friction to deal with. Also, prop planes have be

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Aircraft have an advantage in that they have no ground friction to deal with.

        Yeah, but they have to use additional energy to offset that little force called gravity ;)

        • Lift. [nasa.gov]

          • That image had me laughing out loud. The [nasa.gov] link tag clinches it.

            Anyway, "200mpg" doesn't necessarily mean it can do the whole journey in one gallon of fuel. Maybe you can spend a bunch of fuel to get it up to speed and altitude, then glide 200 miles on just a gallon. Gliders can travel thousands of miles on no power at all, although they don't carry passengers.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Dahamma (304068)

            Yes, that was my point. Lift offsets gravity. But lift causes drag, which requires thrust to offset. Thrust is produced by the engines, which requires... energy!

            Hence my comment, "they have to use additional energy to offset that little force called gravity".

      • I would love to find some links that show some of those things you mentioned (The 6000 MPG car... 9998 MPG vehicle), because I can't find anything even remotely close. Best I can find is articles on people getting just under 110 MPG in priuses. Unless you are referring to gallons of something other than gas, like hydrogen. In which case you might be talking about the PAC, if you used some crazy math to try and convert grams of hydrogen into an equivalent in gallons of gas.

        I think you are greatly mistaken

        • This [gizmag.com] is the sort of thing the guy was referring to.
        • by jd (1658)

          Ok, links you shall have.

          Although the 25 watt car [cnn.com] deserves a mention, it's not petrol/gasoline powered and therefore not what I'm talking about, which is the upper extreme of where you can take internal combustion engines.

        • by jonbryce (703250)

          The cars he is referring to are not road legal, and are generally driven by midget drivers, or robots, but they do exist.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by FlyingBishop (1293238)

        Actually, aircraft don't really have any advantages. Once you get over 100 mph, the air friction becomes the primary problem. What makes the airplane (sometimes) more efficient than the car is quantity. The average bus gets about 180 passenger miles per gallon, while most planes manage about 50

        (from a cursory Google summary of various sources.)
        http://www.terrapass.com/blog/posts/the-denialism-s [terrapass.com]
        http://www.grist.org/article/coach-buses-provide-long-distance-low-emission-convenience [grist.org]
        http://www.ridemcts.com/abou [ridemcts.com]

      • by zonky (1153039)
        Do you mean 1985 European GP @ Brands Hatch? That last GP (british) was held at Brands Hatch in 1986.
        • by jd (1658)

          You're right. My bad. I should write for The Grauniad.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        For those that haven't checked out the "Mossie" as the Mosquito was known, here [wikipedia.org] is the link. I wonder how come nobody has built and sold these for civilian use? Seems like it would make a great long range private aircraft, and from seeing interviews with former pilots they said it was a dream to fly.
        • by jd (1658)

          I'm certain it would. Indeed, if the bomb bay were replaced with another fuel tank, you'd have an estimated range of 6,000 miles. (The external bomb racks can carry 250 lbs of bombs or 2,000 miles worth of fuel, and the internal bomb bay can carry 250 lbs of bombs and thus should be adaptable to carry the same amount of fuel again.)

          I honestly haven't looked, but I seriously doubt you'll find any modern twin prop with a better range than that, and that's before you factor in what would happen if you replaced

      • by GooberToo (74388)

        Aircraft have an advantage in that they have no ground friction to deal with.

        Actually its not an advantage at all. A ground vehicle's drive train, including friction to the ground makes for a more efficient transfer for energy for locomotion. Propellers in the air are simply not terribly efficient. Now consider the large amount of drag added from wings and control surfaces of airplanes. Also, airplanes typically must deal with high parasitic drag because of their speeds, meaning ground vehicles get an adva

    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Informative)

      by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Friday July 31, 2009 @07:50PM (#28903983)
      Yes you can, and it's called a honda or a subaru or any small car that seats 4. These are passenger miles, not MPG. Hell, my piggish WRX gets 26 mpg on a long trip, so that's 104 passenger MPG if I have 3 people with me.
    • It's not miles per gallon it's passenger miles per gallon. That means a car carrying 5 people would have to get 40 miles per gallon. That's by no means unachievable. It's quite high for an aircraft though. I think the A380 gets under 50 passenger miles per gallon.
    • Sure, it's been done before. But you'll be hunted down by assassins from GM.
    • Yep. That's 200 PASSENGER miles per gallon. If you fill up my Acura TSX, it almost gets that too. It's a fair rating, I'm just saying don't compare it to a Prius.
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Yes you can
      http://www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk/information/how-to-use-the-data-tables.asp#petrol [vcacarfueldata.org.uk]

      The Ford Fiesta looks like the most efficient at 76.3mpg or 305.2 miles per passenger gallon. The Smart is a two seater car and gets slightly more miles per gallon if you are driving alone or with one other person.

  • by pesho (843750) on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:23PM (#28903077)
    Where can I collect my reward?
    • by JesseL (107722) on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:26PM (#28903111) Homepage Journal

      When your train flies.

    • by Shivetya (243324)

      because aircraft can change their point to point routes only limited by rules put on their flight. To replicate that with trains would be pretty much outside the realm of feasibility.

      Lets propose we could actually build such a network, it would most likely be a hub and spoke arrangement. This means that what is a direct route for a plane would be a minimum of two stops for a train. The reason flight is so popular is because of its preservation of time which to many is the most important resource they hav

      • because aircraft can change their point to point routes only limited by rules put on their flight. To replicate that with trains would be pretty much outside the realm of feasibility.

        Not true. Trains may be confined to going wherever there are rails, but planes are limited to going wherever there are airports big enough to land.

        Proper high-speed trains are almost as fast for regional transportation and far cheaper.

        • by GooberToo (74388)

          Proper high-speed trains are almost as fast for regional transportation and far cheaper.

          They are almost as fast simply because commercial, mass regional air travel is terribly inefficient. This is why they are always looking to improve airport designs as well as why VTOL capabilities of large aircraft is so high on the airport planner's wish lists.

          For trips less than 600 miles, its easily possible to have a SHORTER ship in a light GA aircraft traveling at almost 1/4 the speed. This is true for multiple reas

      • by nutshell42 (557890) on Friday July 31, 2009 @08:15PM (#28904225) Journal
        Lets propose we could actually build such a network, it would most likely be a hub and spoke arrangement.

        Yeah, thank god noone in the airline industry ever heard of the term "hub and spoke". Can you imagine, hours of layovers or racing from one end of a mega terminal to the other because you have to get a "connecting flight". Not to mention the endless possibilities for the airline to lose your luggage.

        Thankfully, all that remains firmly in the realm of fantasy.

      • by pesho (843750)

        because aircraft can change their point to point routes only limited by rules put on their flight. To replicate that with trains would be pretty much outside the realm of feasibility.

        I am not sure how feasible is this even for plains. Sure you can fly any two points, but how often you will have enough passengers for it to make sense?

        Lets propose we could actually build such a network, it would most likely be a hub and spoke arrangement.

        Sure, an example would be the way air travel operates - hub airports + regional lines to feed into them

        This means that what is a direct route for a plane would be a minimum of two stops for a train. The reason flight is so popular is because of its preservation of time which to many is the most important resource they have.

        This is the case in the US where you don't have anything remotely resembling proper high speed train network. Flight saves you time on long routes. On routes of 300-600 miles it doesn't. When you fly you need to get to the airport, which is typically outs

  • $1.5M? Peanuts. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage.praecantator@com> on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:23PM (#28903079) Homepage

    NASA seems to have forgotten how much aircraft cost.

    • Re:$1.5M? Peanuts. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Delwin (599872) * on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:30PM (#28903149)
      They're looking for amateurs and university projects not Boeing or Northrup to take this one up.
      • by El Torico (732160)

        Yeah, leave the professionals out of this.

        • Re:$1.5M? Peanuts. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Friday July 31, 2009 @07:09PM (#28903571) Homepage Journal

          Why not? Schools and Universities generally did better at the Micromouse tournament than "professional" engineers. Generally, it was the same class of people you saw winning Eggmobile contests. Boeing didn't win the X-Prize, and I don't believe it was any of the super-giant aviation companies that did the work on the two round-the-world record flights.

          Hell, although big companies have contributed to Bloodhound (the 1000 MPH car being built in the UK), it is largely driven by super-genius inventors and engineers in a small team.

          For that matter, look at who is doing well in Formula 1. Braun. A small bunch of enthusiasts who told Honda where their management could go. Look at who is quitting. BMW. The super-giants aren't guaranteed to walk off with the big prizes just because they're big companies. It happens, sure, but it's not in itself a recipe for success.

          • Boeing didn't win the X-Prize, and I don't believe it was any of the super-giant aviation companies that did the work on the two round-the-world record flights.

            No, but Scaled Composites [wikipedia.org], who did do those things, has been owned by both Raytheon and (currently) Northrup Grumman. Now I will say that part of SC's success has been that their larger parents/partners have left Rutan and co. to spend their money in an agile small-company sort of way. Combine that with the quality of their principals and you can see why they are so successful

      • ummm....you forgot Lockheed Martin???

      • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

        This is a prize, not a cost-plus contract. Boeing and Northrop and LockMart are free to enter, but they're looking for innovative designs on what can be a fairly small aircraft. Therefore small teams from those companies are likely to be on equal footing with smaller companies and university teams. One group I'm familiar with that could make a good showing is a small company thats based out of Stanford working on 2-man electric aircraft.

        Compare it to the NASA COTS contract, where the Lockheed/Boeing grou

    • by GooberToo (74388)

      A large cost of aircraft is their avionics. To test the things NASA is requests doesn't require an expensive plane. And in fact, much of it can even be done without a flight worthy aircraft. Keep in mind, the avionics for planes often account for 40%-60% of the overall cost of owning. A bottom rung yet flight worthy plane can be had for $12k-$15k.

      You can own a decent enough airplane for the cost of a new, low end car. You can own a pretty nice used plane for what many pay for a low end luxury car. Once you

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:24PM (#28903081)

    I mean, the aircraft itself might be worth more than that off a production line once it's been invented.

    That's like offering someone $1000 for the process of turning lead into gold. I don't know that anyone would take such a low amount seriously.

    • NASA doesn't get the aircraft. You keep it, along with the patents.

    • LOL! Yeah, it's like offering a million dollars in reward for someone who can figure out how to break all existing encryption, when you would suddenly be able to help yourself to a lot more than a million dollars. Who would ever do something so stupid?

      Oh, wait [wikipedia.org]...

    • by khallow (566160)

      I mean, the aircraft itself might be worth more than that off a production line once it's been invented.

      I don't get this. There's not that much demand for small fuel efficient aircraft.

  • A-380 halfway there (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GGardner (97375) on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:30PM (#28903155)
    The Airbus A-380 gets roughly 100 passenger-miles per gallon, cruising substantially faster and further. Surely with only enough fuel for a short 100 mile flight, no cargo, you could cram twice as many people in it, and easily get your 200 passenger-miles per gallon. Of course, chartering one, might cost more than the prize is worth...
    • by nizo (81281) * on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:40PM (#28903247) Homepage Journal

      I wonder if there are limits on the sizes of the passengers? I mean seriously winning this prize with little people would be way easier than the same number of 6' tall obese people. Though telling NASA "the key is to only transport little people" might not make them too happy.

      • by nizo (81281) * on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:41PM (#28903259) Homepage Journal

        Wait I just realized, if you are allowed to use passengers as fuel using obese people might be better after all.

        • by evanbd (210358)
          Careful, if you burn them halfway into the flight you only get half credit for them.
          • by nizo (81281) *

            What if I turn them into fuel right before landing? Though landing with more fuel than you took off with might weird the judges out a bit.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by keefus_a (567615)
          Yes, I can see it now. One hundred doctors and 100 obese patients, using the jet engine intake for their magical liposuction wands. Is fat combustible?

          Captain: I'm sorry. We don't have enough fuel for this much cargo.
          Doctor: Oh don't worry. We will by the time we get there.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Icaarus (1499831)

        Though telling NASA "the key is to only transport little people" ...

        They told the world that. Seriously look up "Promised the Moon". I seem to remember a key argument in the original program was "Women are smaller".

      • Can I populate a plane with pregnant women and count each seat as two passengers?
        • by gandhi_2 (1108023)
          Depends how quick you are, how hot they are, and how long the flight. You'd pretty much have to get started right after take....oh, I see. Um, disregard.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PotatoFarmer (1250696)
        I don't see any rules requiring a safe landing either. I wonder how large a trebuchet I could make for less than $1.5m...
        • by RobVB (1566105)
          I wonder how you're going to make a trebuchet fire a person 200 miles away. However, I'm sure you'll find other buyers than NASA if you succeed.
          • I wonder how you're going to make a trebuchet fire a person 200 miles away.

            Screw trebuchet, let's make a railgun. You take a guy, feed him a bunch of steel balls, load, and there he goes.

          • by centuren (106470)

            I wonder how you're going to make a trebuchet fire a person 200 miles away. However, I'm sure you'll find other buyers than NASA if you succeed.

            Or 400 people half a mile?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcrbids (148650)

        I wonder if there are limits on the sizes of the passengers?

        The FAA has determined that the "average" passenger weighs 170 lbs for the purposes of advertising how many "passengers" a plane can carry. Thus, a Cessna 172, with 4 seats, but with a fully fueled capacity of about 650 pounds. is a "3 passenger plane" when fully fueled. You can, of course, decide not to fill your tanks all the way, or you fly overloaded.

        I agree with another poster, however... 1.5 million dollars is hardly worth getting out of bed

        • by rcw-home (122017) on Friday July 31, 2009 @07:54PM (#28904013)

          I'm going to guess, however, that if it actually IS done, that it will be some variation of a Rutan Long-EZ, since they are widely known/touted as "the plane" for high-efficiency experimental-class aircraft.

          Wikipedia says that a Long-EZ will do 1600 miles on 52 gallons of fuel. That's 61.5 passenger miles per gallon. It also typically cruises at 184mph - parasitic drag will be 3.39 times less at 100mph, but induced drag will be 3.39 times greater. I am unable to find a chart of both for a Long-EZ (here is a generic one [aviation-history.com]), but 100mph probably isn't that far off from the minimum drag speed.

          I suspect it'll be some variation of a motorglider - probably one that seats at least two. They have much higher aspect ratio wings, much lower sink rates, and would probably have much lower drag at 100mph.

          The Voyager around-the-world aircraft (another Rutan creation) did only 41 passenger miles per gallon (averaged across the entire flight), but they were hauling 9000 lbs of fuel towards the start (53 passengers worth). I suspect it could win the challenge right now - but it'd make a lot more sense to build a different one than to unhook it from the Smithsonian ceiling.

          • by rcw-home (122017) on Friday July 31, 2009 @08:03PM (#28904125)
            Sorry, I just read about the hangar requirements (among other things, a max wingspan of 44 feet). This obviously disqualifies Voyager and many other motorgliders. Probably the winner (as scored by their 1/((1/mph) + (2/Passenger-MPGe)) formula) will look like a cross between the two types of planes.
    • by treeves (963993)
      Could you really cram twice as many (living) passengers on an A-380 as it's designed for, easily?
      • One airline has proposed ripping out the seats and having passengers to stand during short flights.

        Also it seems to me like on short flights the luggage compartment of an airbus might be underutilized. First class would be the lucky few who get to lie down.

    • by sabre86 (730704) on Friday July 31, 2009 @07:08PM (#28903559)
      Sadly, an Airbus A-380 isn't going to fit in the size requirements. The plane has to fit into CAFE's hanger. Here's the floor plan [imageshack.us].

      The requirements in the rules [cafefoundation.org], Appendix B, are:

      Vehicle height: less than or equal to 13 feet
      Vehicle length: less than or equal to 23 feet from main landing gear to tip of tail
      Landing gear footprint must fit onto CAFE Scales (See CFTC floor plan, below)
      Gross weight: less than or equal to 6500 pounds on main landing gear and less than or equal to 2000 lb on nose or tail wheel
      Wingspan (as projected onto a level surface), if less than or equal to 44 feet, must be capable of being shortened to less than or equal to 44 feet by wing-folding or tip removal that can be easily accomplished in 20 minutes or less by no more than 4 adult persons of average size and strength. This is necessary to fit typical tie-downs, hangar rows and the width of the CAFE Flight Test Center's hangar. Any small additional projected span of winglets, tip tanks or other wing tip device, as vertically projected onto a level surface, will be included as wingspan.

      --sabre86

    • by drsquare (530038)

      Actually efficiency goes up with the length of the journey.

  • Diesel (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Such technologies and innovations include, but are not limited to, bio-fueled propulsion...

    Take a Diamond aircraft and put old Wesson oil in it and Wammo! $1.5 million?! [diamond-air.at]

    Their aircraft seam perfect for using bio-fuels. Sure, you'll have to tweak it a bit. No problem.

  • Misunderstanding? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Not 200 Miles Per Gallon. 200 passenger miles per gallon.

  • Where's my blimp. And please point me to the nearest jetstream.
  • If this is achieved for a personal aircraft, I'd be very much on board with this. My only beef is the addition of things like parachutes and air bags. I don't really care too much for those features, as I might be able to get TKS de-icing systems installed for similar weight for those IFR flights in the great white north. Or if I don't have a TKS system, maybe a little extra payload capacity so I can actually fit 4 passengers and fuel without going over gross weight.

  • by Anonymous Freak (16973) <prius.driver@noSpAm.mac.com> on Friday July 31, 2009 @07:07PM (#28903543) Journal

    Moving four passengers the 200 miles at 100 MPH on four gallons of gas would pull it off. That would be a 'raw' MPG of 50 MPG. Or, in airplane parliance, that two hour trip would consume at an average rate of 2 gph (Gallons per Hour, the normal measurement used in the aviation industry.) A two-place airplane would need to consume half as much fuel to qualify.

    A Cessna 172, with four passengers, consumes somewhere between 7-10 gallons per hour. So this would be a serious improvement. There are some 'light sport' aircraft that draw near 4 GPH, but those are two-place.

    Either way, still way better than requiring a raw 200 miles per gallon.

  • It was a sailplane. Behind the pilot it had a pusher propeller on a pod with folding props. You could sail all day, just starting the engine when the updrafts were bad and you needed to gain altitude again.

    I think the article was titled something like "Fly all day on a gallon of gas."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Deadstick (535032)

      Motorgliders have been around longer than that, but they are just as much "sporting goods" as a pure sailplane is. The auxiliary engine doesn't give you the freedom to travel long distances at will. It does two things: it saves you the $30-$60 it costs to get airborne behind a towplane, and it means that if you run out of thermals you can make it to an airport instead of landing in a farm field and calling someone to bring the trailer. If the weather isn't soarable, you aren't taking any trips.

      rj

  • to...

    Seriously, use it to stimulate PRIVATE innovation and investment, instead of trying to manually command-and-control the economy. The government can't do, or direct people to do, things with half the efficiency that entrepreneurs can.

    • Seriously, use it to stimulate PRIVATE innovation and investment, instead of trying to manually command-and-control the economy. The government can't do, or direct people to do, things with half the efficiency that entrepreneurs can.

      Ideally, yes. Unfortunately, the problem from a political standpoint is that because the money goes to whoever does the best job instead of whoever lives in a particular congressional district, this is a really difficult thing to do -- that's why this prize is only $1.5 million, which is basically a rounding error when it comes to federal budgets. For example, recently NASA wanted to use $150 million of its stimulus funding to stimulate commercial spaceflight. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Al) put up a fuss and

  • A glider (called a sailplanein the US) gets a lot of miles for the few gallons used by the tow plane to get it airborne , provided there are the right wind/thermal/mountain conditions. I remember a few decades ago there was a gliding competition in The South Island, and one of the entrants was a former NASA employee. Forty years ago last week he came within 30 seconds of trying to glide where there is no atmosphere...

  • What I remember from my days in aerospace engineering classes at Univ. of MO - Rolla ("Where the men are men, the women are scarce and the sheep are nervous."), the factors involved are: lift vs gravity, thrust vs drag.

    Ultra-light weight
    Plug-in Serial electric hybrid
    Choose engine optimized for efficiency/weight
    Perhaps jet turbine?
    Choose light-weight batteries
    Solar panels on wings (lightweight ones!)
    Super-low coefficient of drag
    Advanced wing design
    Ad

  • This aircraft will have to be a flying wing.

    If eestor is for real, then make the aircraft electric, and use power from the ground.
  • Do the math (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ishmaelflood (643277) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:24PM (#28904743)

    L/D for a really good plane 50:1

    plane weighs roughly 4 times as much as the passengers (proabbly lowball)

    passenger weighs 80 kg

    speed=100 miph=160 kph=50 m/s

    so constant power required=1/50*(4*80)*10*50=3200W

    Best engine efficiency ~40%, best prop ~80%, calorific content of fuel is 38 MJ/kg= .8*4*38 MJ/gallon, so fuel consumption is 3200/(.32*3.2*38*10^6) gallons per second. So in 2 hours there are 7200 seconds, so ttoal fuel used is 3200/(.32*3.2*38*10^6)*7200

    So, that is 0.6 gallons for 200 miles for one passenger

    Conclusion, probably do-able, it'll cost way more than 1.5 million

    • I forgot to add that the rules are almost certainly fudged to encourage alternative technologies.

      The wingspan limit makes achieving a 50:1 L/D very difficult - I'm not an aerodynamicist. However once the L/D drops to 30:1 then its game over man.

  • For what voyage does it make sense to take a plane which only goes 100mph? There's remote locations where you can take a plane point-to-point but not a land vehicle, but not really all that many.

  • Trebuchet.

    Seriously though, who wants to fly 100 mph, except for short hops?

    They should have a different contest, for a 10% increase over the state-of-the-art (whatever it is) for various classes of commercial craft. Of course, since companies like Boeing and Airbus are probably doing everything they can to get better fuel economy without compromising safety, and since a lot more than $1.5 million is being spent by those companies, I don't see a whole lot of benefit in such a contest.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Seriously though, who wants to fly 100 mph, except for short hops?

      If the comforts were up to par, I would be happy to.

      It's only BECAUSE flights are so short that they can get away with squeezing people into so little space. That's why a trip that is 4X longer on a train, can be much less stressful than flying.

      And let's not forget cargo...

  • Whats the big deal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dpeltzm1 (706854) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:02PM (#28905415)
    This; http://machinedesign.com/article/throw-out-the-textbooks-diesel-airplanes-are-here-0619 [machinedesign.com] is a production airplane already getting 133 passenger miles per gallon per the contest conditions. its a 4 seater in current configuration but has a 950 lb load rating with full fuel. so if we assume 170 lbs per passenger 6 passengers would put you 70 lbs over max. lose 10 gallons of fuel and your back to overall weight. this would give you 200 passenger MPG of course two would have to ride in the luggage bay but you would still be within the planes limits. feel free to correct me if my math is off but if not and you decide to go do it and win, well 10 grand as a finders fee would be nice!!!

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