By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Four nominees were named last week by the National Aeronautic Association for the 2011 Robert J. Collier Trophy, which honors the "greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America." The nominees are: Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, the Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy, the Gamera human-powered helicopter, and Pipistrel's Taurus G4 electric-powered airplane. "We are very proud of the nominations we received for the 2011 Collier Trophy," said NAA Chairman Walter J. Boyne. "Each of them -- in their own way -- mark significant progress in the advancement of aviation and aerospace on the planet, and we certainly welcome them to the Collier selection process."
Boeing's 787 is a clean-sheet design launched in 2004, with first delivery in September 2011. Composite materials are used for 50 percent of the structure, and it runs on all-new jet engines that contribute to its fuel efficiency. The Super Galaxy is an upgraded version of the C-5, with a digital avionics suite and more than 70 improvements to the airframe and systems, including new F138-GE-100 engines. The airplane set 41 world aeronautical records in one flight in 2009, when it carried a payload of 176,610 pounds to an altitude of more than 41,100 feet in 23 minutes, 59 seconds. The Gamera, designed and built by students at the University of Maryland, lifted off and hovered for 11.4 seconds in July 2011, setting a new world record for duration of a human-powered helicopter flight. The twin-fuselage Taurus G4 won NASA's $1.35 million prize last year in the Green Flight Challenge. The winner will be selected by a panel of 31 leaders from the aviation and aerospace industry, and the announcement will be made at an awards ceremony on March 13.