The U.S. space agency, NASA, has awarded its $1.3 million Green Flight Challenge aviation contest prize to team Pipistrel-USA.com of State College, Pennsylvania for its innovative and energy efficient electric aircraft.
The second place award of $120,000 went to team e-Genius of Ramona, California for its electric powered entry. NASA announced the winners Monday.
Its Green Flight Challenge marks the first time that full-scale electric aircraft have performed in competition. After preparing for more than two years, three teams from the original field of 14 reached the week-long final competition, which ended Sunday.
The winning plane had to fly at a speed of at least 160 kilometers per hour, travel 320 kilometers in less than two hours, and use less than 3.8 liters of fuel per passenger, or the equivalent in electricity. NASA says both the Pipistrel-USA.com and the e-Genius electric-powered airplanes flew the distance using a little more than half the fuel allowed.
NASA says it hopes the new technology developed for the Green Flight Challenge contest will inspire more innovations in electric-powered aircraft, and drive the aviation industry of the 21st century toward building quiet, emission-free aircraft.
Internet giant Google sponsored the Green Flight Challenge contest under an agreement with NASA’s Centennial Challenge program, which awarded the prize money.