Tuesday, 4 October 2011

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1.  Electric plane wins $1.35 million

NASA says it has awarded the largest prize in aviation history, $1.35 million, to Team Pipistrel-USA.com for pushing the envelope on electric-powered flying.
To win the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, the Pennsylvania-based team's Taurus G4 electric airplane flew a 200-mile course from Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, Calif., in less than two hours. That's one of the requirements for the prize. Another is that the plane had to use less than the equivalent of a gallon of gas per person. The Pipistrel Taurus G4 exceeded that efficiency standard, flying the course on just a little more than a half-gallon of fuel equivalent per passenger.
What's even more amazing is that the runner-up did nearly as well. That earned a $120,000 second-place purse for California-based Team e-Genius and its electric-powered plane.
"Two years ago, the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction," Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team Pipistrel-USA.com, said in today's award announcement. "Now we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation."
Eric Raymond, e-Genius' team leader, was diplomatic in his remarks. "I'm proud that Pipistrel won," he said. "They've been a leader in getting these things into production, and the team really deserves it and worked hard to win this prize."

The e-Genius electric plane takes flight during the CAFE Green Flight Challenge.
NASA's acting chief technologist, Joe Parrish, said the winner proved that "ultra-efficient aviation is within our grasp."
The challenge was one of several that NASA has backed over the past six years to encourage the development of technologies that could improve the way spaceflight and aeronautics is done. (Remember that the first "A" in NASA stands for aeronautics.) In a way, this particular prize goes full circle: NASA's Centennial Challenges were inspired by the $10 million Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight, which in turn was inspired by the $25,000 Orteig Prize for nonstop trans-Atlantic aviation.
Charles Lindbergh won the Orteig Prize in 1927, and his grandson, Erik Lindbergh, was on hand at the Green Flight Challenge to pass along a prize of his own: the Lindbergh Prize for Quietest Aircraft. Team eGenius won that $10,000 award, which was donated by Jean Schulz, the widow of "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles M. Schulz.
NASA provides the purse for the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, with sponsorship support from Google and management by the CAFE Foundation (CAFE stands for Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency). Fourteen teams registered for the competition and collectively spent more than $4 million over the past two-plus years in pursuit of the purse. Most of the teams relied on electric engines, but the entries also included some planes powered by gasoline or biofuels.
Three planes made it to last week's finals: the Pipistrel and eGenius planes as well as a gasoline-powered plane fielded by the Florida-based Phoenix Air team. Among the factors that gave the Pipistrel Taurus G4 a boost were its dual-fuselage design, which allowed for a 75-foot wingspan with ultra-light construction, a super-efficient powertrain for its 6.5-foot-wide propeller and 450 pounds of lithium-polymer batteries. (EAA News delves into the details, and NASA has a Flickr photo gallery chronicling the competition.)

NASA hopes that the Green Flight Challenge will lead to even more ambitious aerial feats of fuel efficiency. Parabolic Arc's Doug Messier quotes Pipistrel's Langelaan as saying that his company is willing to contribute $100,000 toward a new prize for the first electric aircraft to break the speed of sound. How long would that take? Langelaan estimates five years.

2.  Airline Attack Suspect in Court: 'Anwar Is Alive'

A Nigerian man accused of trying to bring down an international jetliner with a bomb in his underwear told a federal court Tuesday that a radical Islamic cleric killed by the U.S. military is alive and called the United States a cancer.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 24, made the statement as jury selection began for his federal terror trial in Detroit, where he is acting as his own attorney.

"Anwar is alive," Abdulmutallab told the court before questioning of potential jurors got under way. "The mujahadeen will wipe out the U.S. — the cancer U.S."

The government says Abdulmutallab, a well-educated Nigerian from an upper-class family, was directed in the attack by American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed Friday by a joint CIA-U.S. military air strike in Yemen.

FILE - This December 2009 file photo released... View Full Caption

Abdulmutallab said he wanted to become a martyr on Christmas 2009, when he boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in Amsterdam, according to the government.

The failed attack was the first act of terrorism in the U.S. during the Obama administration, and it could have implications in the debate over whether terrorism suspects should be tried in civilian or military courts.

The episode also revealed the rise of a dangerous al-Qaida affiliate and al-Awlaki's growing influence.

Abdulmutallab, who has pleaded not guilty, faces eight charges, including conspiracy to commit terrorism and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. The government says he wanted to blow up the plane by detonating chemicals in his underwear, just seven minutes before the jet carrying 279 passengers and a crew of 11 was to land at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

But the bomb didn't work. Passengers assisted by crew members saw flames and pounced on Abdulmutallab.

The government says he willingly explained the plot twice, first to U.S. border officers who took him off the plane and then in more detail to FBI agents who interviewed him at a hospital for 50 minutes, following treatment for serious burns to his groin.

3.  American Airlines Shares Fall 33%

Eight years ago, a last-minute round of concessions from its labor unions saved American Airlines parent AMR Corp. from bankruptcy proceedings, even as many rivals of the then-biggest U.S. carrier sank into Chapter 11.

Today, AMR's escape looks increasingly like bad luck. While other big network airlines emerged from bankruptcy court stronger and nimbler, American appears caught in the middle, losing market share to its peers while struggling against discounters with much-lower costs structures.

On Monday, the company's shares plunged 33% on renewed fears that the nation's third-largest airline by traffic ultimately may be forced to seek bankruptcy protection.

USA Aviation NEWS

Wall Street Journal
By SUSAN CAREY Eight years ago, a last-minute round of concessions from its labor unions saved American Airlines parent AMR Corp. from bankruptcy proceedings, even as many rivals of the then-biggest US carrier sank into Chapter 11. ...
New York - Rumours that American Airlines parent AMR Corp will file for bankruptcy protection sent the company's stocks plummeting on Monday. The company said there was no concrete news behind the rumours, but also said that a court-guided ...
(NYSE: AMR), the parent company of American Airlines , closed at $1.98 on Monday, a 33 percent drop. While shares of airline stocks were volatile Monday because of fears that economic problems could hurt travel, persistent talk by analysts that AMR ...
American Airlines parent AMR found itself the subject of bankruptcy speculation Monday, with some suggesting a prepackaged trip through Chapter 11 could make the carrier more competitive, as airline stocks cratered in the wake of a dismal forecast from ...

Aviation NEWS By
Neha Jain
Aviation NEWS Reporter



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