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NASA Offers $1.5 Million For 200MPG Aircraft

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the cheaper-than-doing-it-yourself dept.

146

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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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903017)

ladies, get your pussies [youtube.com] ready!

Newton (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903043)

Newton's laws of motion are now null and void, What do I win again?

Re:Newton (2, Informative)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904215)

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

Wow (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903051)

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:Wow (2, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903495)

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 been developed to be efficient for decades - the DeHavilland Mosquito had a range of 4,000 miles on 500 lbs of fuel in 1941, and some of the more modern composite-fibre aircraft and modern engines have fuel efficiencies vastly superior to that.

Re:Wow (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903901)

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 ;)

Re:Wow (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903949)

Lift. [nasa.gov]

Re:Wow (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904089)

So what? Lift doesn't come for free.

Re:Wow (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904123)

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:Wow (2, Informative)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904157)

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".

Re:Wow (1)

Alsn (911813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904273)

That energy doesn't have to come from an engine like a lot of other posters have suggested. Gliders and other efficient solutions can be found(which, supposedly, is the entire point of the contest). Just take a look at any bird of prey the next time you see one, they don't flap their wings because they don't need to.

Re:Wow (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904769)

Just take a look at any bird of prey the next time you see one, they don't flap their wings because they don't need to.

How do they get off the ground? A catapult? ;) Same with a glider... gotta expend some energy to get up there. My car can get infinite MPG, too - if I start it at the top of a mountain.

Anyway, sure, things like thermal updrafts, etc can help gain altitude if the aircraft is light enough - but they aren't particularly reliable if your goal is transportation rather than recreation. A glider's velocity needed for lift is caused by a slow, efficient descent, mostly from the potential energy given to it by a plane with an engine. I assume part of the requirement is that it take off under its own power. Though, it will be interesting to see what alternative fuel sources, hybrid/solar technology, etc people can come up with!

 

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28904733)

There's also that whole "pushing against a less dense object" compared to a car pushing against the ground.

Re:Wow (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904325)

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, but if you aren't, then I would be interested if you could point out some links for me.

Thanks in advance.

Re:Wow (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904897)

This [gizmag.com] is the sort of thing the guy was referring to.

Re:Wow (2, Informative)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904571)

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/about_mcts/index.asp [ridemcts.com]
http://askville.amazon.com/miles-gallon-jet-fuel-boeing-737-carrying-250-passengers-500-mph-30000-feet-cost-gal/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=10537954 [amazon.com]

Re:Wow (3, Informative)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wow (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904095)

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.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28904105)

Well, supposing a Grand AM (29 mpg highway [fueleconomy.gov] ) can keep up 5mpg at 100mph, it's been done [rhapsody.com] . (Incidentally, that song is based on a genuine news item. More info. [skeptictank.org] )

Re:Wow (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28905411)

Sure, it's been done before. But you'll be hunted down by assassins from GM.

1.5 million... yay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903067)

Why even offer the money? Just announce the contest and dangle some valuable space-time to the winner. 1.5 million is a new toilet.

It is called high speed train (2, Interesting)

pesho (843750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903077)

Where can I collect my reward?

Re:It is called high speed train (4, Funny)

JesseL (107722) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903111)

When your train flies.

Re:It is called high speed train (3, Insightful)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903269)

Maglev?

Re:It is called high speed train (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903581)

and now for a maglev that uses the earth's magnetic field, rather than a (mostly) fixed-path track.

Re:It is called high speed train (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904135)

Maglev maglev tracks?

Re:It is called high speed train (2, Funny)

OnlyPostsWhilstDrunk (1605753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904355)

Only if it can be turtles all the way down from there

Trains lack flexibility (2, Informative)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903479)

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 have.

Re:Trains lack flexibility (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903619)

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.

Re:Trains lack flexibility (3, Funny)

nutshell42 (557890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904225)

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.

Re:Trains lack flexibility (1)

pesho (843750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904779)

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 outside the city, you need to show up early so you can get through security and than when you land again you need time to travel from the airport to your destination.

Trains on the other hand most often than not go to the center of the cities, and in big cities have more than one stop. You don't need to get through security, so you can be on the station couple of minutes before the train leaves. Even on longer distances (up to 1000 miles) for many people it would make more sense to take a night train and sleep than loose a day going to and from the airport.

I am not arguing to replace the air travel with trains. It just doesn't make sense to fly from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Phoenix or Las Vegas, when from point to point a high speed train will get you as fast as a plain. On the east coast taking the train will make even more sense.

On the other hand traveling coast to coast, or to the middle of the country, air travel is the better choice.

Re:It is called high speed train (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903481)

When you fuck me in the ass with your thick juicy man-stick.

$1.5M? Peanuts. (3, Insightful)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903079)

NASA seems to have forgotten how much aircraft cost.

Re:$1.5M? Peanuts. (4, Informative)

Delwin (599872) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903149)

They're looking for amateurs and university projects not Boeing or Northrup to take this one up.

Re:$1.5M? Peanuts. (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903299)

Yeah, leave the professionals out of this.

Re:$1.5M? Peanuts. (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903571)

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.

Re:$1.5M? Peanuts. (1)

Vu1turEMaN (1270774) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903771)

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

Re:$1.5M? Peanuts. (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904195)

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 group PlanetSpace lost out to the smaller and more nimble SpaceX and Orbital Sciences (after Rocketplane/Kistler crapped out). Its a contract instead of prize (no up front money), its a larger scale so you're dealing with 1000+ employee companies instead of small teams, but you still have a more level playing field where the smaller companies can compete with the old players, often to the benefit of the taxpayer and with more innovation.

Re:$1.5M? Peanuts. (1)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903621)

I think they are looking for a government rebate much like "Cash for Clunkers".

Turn in those old gas guzzling 747's.
Get the new propeller driven Hindenburg, designed by high school kids and get $45 million back from the government

Re:$1.5M? Peanuts. (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904143)

I think this may not be aimed at the 747 market. There is a fair push for small, light planes, which only carry a few passengers, and can be flown weekends by a person with an average income. This is probably going to be something a bit bigger than that, but it's easy to think regional-to-regional airports. There are a lot more of them there are airports that can handle a 747, and if you could make a plane that could fly from/to those cheaply it would be well worth it.

That's it? A measley 1.5 M? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:That's it? A measley 1.5 M? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903409)

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

Re:That's it? A measley 1.5 M? (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28905227)

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] ...

A-380 halfway there (4, Interesting)

GGardner (97375) | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

Re:A-380 halfway there (3, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903247)

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.

Re:A-380 halfway there (3, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903259)

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

Re:A-380 halfway there (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903533)

Careful, if you burn them halfway into the flight you only get half credit for them.

Re:A-380 halfway there (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903547)

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.

300 lbs == 10 gal. gasoline (1)

Katchu (1036242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904345)

I've heard it stated that the fat of a 300 pound person is equivalent to 10 gallons of gasoline (petrol). Liposuction, biofuel, weight loss.

Re:A-380 halfway there (2, Funny)

keefus_a (567615) | more than 5 years ago | (#28905391)

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:A-380 halfway there (2, Interesting)

Icaarus (1499831) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903349)

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".

Re:A-380 halfway there (1)

Asclepius99 (1527727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903413)

Can I populate a plane with pregnant women and count each seat as two passengers?

Re:A-380 halfway there (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904031)

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:A-380 halfway there (2, Funny)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903427)

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...

Re:A-380 halfway there (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903527)

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.

Re:A-380 halfway there (1)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903867)

If you only get it to fire 90 miles and locate it in Florida we can restart the cold war.

Or then again you could install it in Cuba and everyone could leave.
Whatever it works for me.

Re:A-380 halfway there (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904627)

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.

Re:A-380 halfway there (2, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903445)

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 for when talking aircraft. 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.org] . That, and they look vaguely like the off-spring of the Starship Enterprise and an X-Wing fighter.

Re:A-380 halfway there (3, Insightful)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:A-380 halfway there (3, Interesting)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:A-380 halfway there (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903411)

Could you really cram twice as many (living) passengers on an A-380 as it's designed for, easily?

Re:A-380 halfway there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903457)

One word: Blender.

Re:A-380 halfway there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28904313)

One word: living.

Re:A-380 halfway there (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903597)

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.

Re:A-380 halfway there (3, Informative)

sabre86 (730704) | more than 5 years ago | (#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

Re:A-380 halfway there (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904521)

Actually efficiency goes up with the length of the journey.

NASA appeals to Suckers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903159)

Surely a company that could build such a miraculous machine would make a lot more on its own.

Re:NASA appeals to Suckers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903397)

Not miraculous. 200 _passenger_ miles per gallon.

Diesel (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903169)

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? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903189)

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

Re:Misunderstanding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903225)

what is the difference? i really don't know

Re:Misunderstanding? (2, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903289)

If you only have one passenger and are going 200 miles on one gallon, probably nothing.

Re:Misunderstanding? (2, Informative)

The Darkness (33231) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903391)

You're allowed to spend a gallon per passenger for every 200 miles traveled. So if you have 10 passengers you can spend 10 gallons to go 200 miles.

10(passengers)*200(miles)/10(gallons)=200 Passenger Miles/Gallon.

10(passengers)*400(miles)/20(gallons)=200 Passenger Miles/Gallon.

And so on.

Blimp (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903383)

Where's my blimp. And please point me to the nearest jetstream.

Personal aircraft? (1)

cheier (790875) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903491)

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.

Metric? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903505)

Is the competition primarily for the US (civilian), Liberia and Myanmar?
What is this gallon/mpg cruft??

I can do it, but I'm broke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903517)

I need 13 grand, a Citroen visa engine, some twelve planks of 1/8 inch birch plywood, 6 feet of 4140 steel tube 1/2 inch diameter, a tig welder, six yards of fiberglass and two quarts of Huntsman Vantico 52 a/b epoxy resin, 1 quart of PR1410 a 1/2, sixty AN3 bolts with nylock nuts, and we are in business

Re:I can do it, but I'm broke (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28905079)

A prop and wheels would also be nice

"Passenger miles" the catch. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903543)

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.

Nasa Admins are really the BOZOS of government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903551)

NASA is being run by bozos for about 40 years now. The scientists and engineers are great, but the administrators who make these decisions are complete morons.

Re:Nasa Admins are really the BOZOS of government (2, Insightful)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903981)

I agree that the NASA administration has had problems, but what's your problem with this competition? If someone wins the competition, I'd say that's 1.5 million *very* well spent. Especially compared to NASA's overall budget.

Also- a lot of NASA's problems are due to how its budget is handled by congress. Space development is a thing of long term projects to make serious headway- but that's exactly what they never have the luxury of, since the budget fluctuates enormously.

That would be quite a feet saving feat (0)

jeremy128 (976915) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903705)

I would be impressed with a 200 MPG car, let alone an aircraft. It would need to have an incredible lift to drag ratio. Still, I like the idea of the thing being worked on.

Burt Rutan (1)

Rainbird98 (186939) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903967)

This should be a piece of cake for Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites!

They had one of these in the 80s (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903969)

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:They had one of these in the 80s (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28904187)

And it went 100 mph?

That's the whole problem, you see. Anyone can strap an engine and fuel tank into a modified sailplane and cruise at sailplane speeds with insane fuel economy, but you lose that to drag when you fly at practical speeds.

Re:They had one of these in the 80s (2, Informative)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904801)

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

This the kind of use stimulus funds should be put (2, Insightful)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904077)

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.

So what? (1)

newsat11 (1609743) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904093)

Innovation to be motivated by personal gain, news at 11!

18 billion dollars a year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28904279)

Shut down NASA, now. What a total waste of taxpayer dollars.

Glider (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904471)

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...

the concept (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904529)

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
Advanced propeller design

No A/C or pressurization or retractable gear will also drop a lot of weight, but you'll have to be careful in designing your wheel fairings to reduce drag as much as possible. That's a first-year class to play with the wind tunnel, though. Fun times. No pressurization will limit your ceiling, but oh well, we're going for efficiency here! No retractable gear will lower your max speed, but again, we gotta drop the weight for the sake of efficiency. (I'd like to see some #'s about the efficiency tradeoffs of going with lower coefficient of drag with retractable gear vs less weight due to fixed gear. My gut tells me the weight is more important, but my gut could easily be wrong.)

This would be a very fun project. I wonder if Rutan is going to participate.

Re:the concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28904657)

you need to take second year aero too ... props and fans are variable pitch. There's no efficiency to be gained from a seriel electric hybrid, you adjust the prop or fan to match the peak efficiency of the engine. "Light weight batteries" is bullshit. What you need is power density, not "light weight", which is where batteries are utter shit. Solar panels on the wings only work if you use an inordinately low wing loading, which means that you pick up a lot of surface drag. All of the plastic airplanes have ultra low coefficients of drag. I aht eto tell you this, but the NACA designs were already close to optimum on wing design for their design parameters. So, what sort of "advanced wing design" are you talking about? magic or something. Look up the AA-1 Yankee if you think laminar flow wings are where it's at. What sort of "advanced propeller design" are you envisioning? Propellers are wings. You can optimize for a range of parameters, but there's no magic there. Again, wings are pretty close. There's room for small incremental improvements, but if you think ducted fans are magic, I reccomend you look at, say, GE's CFM series or Rolls' similar turbofans. There you're pushing theoretical aerodyanmic efficiencies for the design range once you realize that it's a system.

Oh, and you casually blow off presurization, but there's a lot more to gain from climbing then you think. Once again, you've got to pick parameters, but, to summarize, you don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

Flying Wing (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904615)

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 (2, Interesting)

ishmaelflood (643277) | more than 5 years ago | (#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

Re:Do the math (1)

ishmaelflood (643277) | more than 5 years ago | (#28905223)

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.

Not of any practical use (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904877)

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.

One word (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904953)

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.

Follow the Hotrod Example (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28905119)

Put big wheels on the back and a small wheels on the front so it's always rolling downhill. Great for fuel economy!

It has to FLY? (1)

WidgetGuy (1233314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28905213)

Damn! The headline didn't say anything about the aircraft having to actually fly. Otherwise, I have a killer prototype. No, really. It's already killed several passengers. Hmmm... Maybe that could be deducted from the "passenger miles per gallon" requirement? Yeah, that's the ticket. I might yet be in the running!

In the meantime, let me tell you about my other world-beating invention: pastry with NO calories. Until you eat it.

Oh, man, am I glad it's Friday.
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