July 18, 2008 — Charles Lindbergh won the $25,000 Orteig Prize in the Spirit of St. Louis for the first nonstop aircraft flight between New York and Paris. Paul MacCready won the $100,000 Kremer Prize for the Gossamer Condor as the first human-powered airplane to fly, climb and turn. And SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, becoming the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within 14 days. There is no doubt that prize money entices innovation. And that’s the reason why the U.S. Department of Transportation announced on July 10 it would finance its own green fuel contest. The DOT and Federal Aviation Association have granted $500,000 to the X Prize Foundation to create a contest they hope will award $10 million or more to the creator of an alternative jet fuel. Specific requirements for winning entrants will be developed over the next 14 months.
The competition is expected to begin in 2011 with a winner to be selected in 2016. The X Prize Foundation will award the money, which will originate from a private sponsor that has not yet been selected.
The race to refuel American aviation is on and our hope is that the X PRIZE will jump-start investment and spur innovation,” Mary Peters, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, said in a statement. "It will be a competition that everyone wins, because a breakthrough in alternative jet fuels is a potential game-changer that could bring lower airline fuel costs, greater U.S. energy independence, and cleaner air."
Senior director of prize development at the X Prize Foundation, Jason Morgan, believes in the competitive approach. "With all the discussion about global warming, the increasing cost of oil, and the increasing congestion everyone’s feeling at the airport, we need to do something dramatic about it and we think it’s the contest model."
Development of an aviation alternative technologies and fuels prize is a key element of the FAA’s Next Generation air traffic modernization program and the FAA’s strategy to move aviation toward “carbon neutral” growth. Known as “NextGen,” the program is a broad U.S. airspace system transformation plan established to double the capacity of the U.S. aviation system by the year 2025 while renewable, non-fossil aviation fuels will offset the greenhouse emissions associated with the increased air traffic.
Source: EAA Young Eagles
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