CAFE Foundation’s Aviation Green Prize


NASA’s Centennial Challenge for aviation operated by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation (CAFE Foundation) is seeking an eco-friendly, 100-mpg, 100-mph aircraft and its designer(s), to which it plans to offer a big green pile of money ($600,000 in 2009). But before that it’s seeking comments on the yet unofficial rules draft (PDF) before Oct. 3. As currently written, tossing your hat into the ring won’t come cheap. The CAFE program will require a minimum $4000 registration fee that rises to $6000 for late applicants. According to the Challenge’s guidelines, “the maximum purse will be awarded to the one team whose vehicle demonstrates the fastest average speed greater than or equal to 100 mph” during a timed flight over a 200-statute-mile closed race course “while also exceeding 100 mpg.” If no one wins, things get more interesting in 2010.

If no team in 2009 meets those requirements, smaller sums up to $65,000 will be determined for Honorable Achievement. The rest of the prize money will roll over (and be added to) 2010’s purse of $500,000. The Challenge intends to encourage the development of myriad new technologies including breakthroughs in batteries, motors, fuel cells, ultra-capacitors, and quiet propulsion, as well as the affordability of small aircraft.