An aircraft at the General Aviation Technology Challenge. (NASA)
Today, the NASA Innovative Partnerships Program and the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation officially announced the Green Flight Challenge. The flight efficiency competition is for aircraft that can average at least 100 mph on a 200-mile flight, while achieving greater than 200 passenger miles per gallon.

The competition is scheduled for July 2011 at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, CA. Several universities and aircraft builders have expressed interest in entering, and innovative electrical, solar, bio-fuel, or hybrid propulsion technologies are anticipated

The grand prize is $1.5 million. To win, teams must use cutting-edge technologies in mechanical and electrical engineering, structures, aerodynamics, and thermodynamics. The challenge is expected to help advance all three of the major climate mitigation initiatives: efficiency, conservation, and zero-carbon energy sources. These technologies will support advances in aviation and may have broader applications in transportation and energy storage.

NASA is providing the prize money as part of the Centennial Challenges  program. The Green Flight Challenge originated in 2007 as the Personal Air Vehicle Challenge, and in 2008 it was called the General Aviation Technology Challenge. In those challenges the teams demonstrated light aircraft that incorporated improvements to maximize fuel efficiency, reduce noise, and improve safety.