CAFE Symposium Explores Future Flight

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The fifth annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium convened over the weekend in Santa Rosa, Calif., bringing together about 30 presenters with an enthusiastic audience to discuss emerging technologies for personal aircraft. Topics included STOL aerodynamics, new sources of energy production, lithium battery developments, flight deck automation, suburbia-based air-taxi systems, high-efficiency motors, quiet propeller designs, and more. The Symposium also provided a forum to introduce the 13 aircraft that will compete in July for $1.65 million in prizes in the Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by NASA. "There was a lot of enthusiasm and networking," CAFE President Brian Seeley told AVweb this week. "We are building a new industry. 2011 will go down in history as the dawn of electric flight."

Among those competing in the Green Flight Challenge is Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, with a team flying the EcoEagle, a modified Stemme motorglider. (Click here to see AVweb's video about the airplane from Sun 'n Fun.) Other competitors include Yuneec Aircraft, Penn State University teamed with Pipistrel, and Greg Cole of Windward Performance. Several teams are building new designs from scratch, including the Synergy team from Montana, with a double-box-tailed five-place composite airplane. The competition will be held July 11 to 17 in Santa Rosa, Calif. Aircraft must fly 200 miles in less than two hours using the equivalent of less than 1 gallon of gas per occupant. The means of propulsion is not specified, and entrants will use standard gasoline, bio-fuels, electric batteries, and other technologies. More info about last weekend's symposium can be found at the CAFE web site and Facebook page; details about the July competition are posted here.