Erik Lindbergh, as part of his Lindbergh Foundation, has instituted a suite of prizes to recognize and , “Accelerate development of practical electric flight, and stimulate meaningful advances in the emerging electric aircraft industry.”
Having presented four prizes at last year’s Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture, Lindbergh followed up at Aero-Friedrichshafen 2011 as part of the Berblinger Competition – which drew 24 entrants and eight aircraft that actually completed the Friedrichshafen-Ulm-Friedrichshafen out-and-return course.
With sponsors including Sergei Sikorsky, son of Igor Sikorsky, a competitor for the original Orteig Prize that prompted Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 New York to Paris flight; His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, who backs LEAP; and Messe-Friedrichshafen, hosts to the Aero 2011 and to the First Families of Flight gathering, LEAP garners a great deal of recognition for its prize winners.
LEAP gave three awards at Aero 2011. In the best electric airplane category, the judges chose three finalists:
• The Hugues Duval Electric Cri-Cri with power by Electravia
• The Pipistrel Taurus Electro
• The Sunseeker II solar airplane by Eric Raymond
with the Pipistrel Taurus Electro earning top honors for its “professionally engineered ‘plug and play’ electric power system which is available for commercial sale to other airplane makers, and because it includes a completely integrated ‘solar trailer’ that allows the airplane to operate independently of the commercial power grid. The integration and safety features are excellent and can serve as a model for industry standards for electric aircraft.”
Among many new developments, two electric propulsion systems reached finalist status. Judges “gave strong consideration to the commercialization and scalability potential of the systems reviewed.”From:
• The LZ Design FES (front engine sustainer) system
• The Rapid 200 Fuel Cell propulsion system from Polytechnic Torino
Judges gave the nod to The LZ Design FES system for its commercial availability and its folding propeller, “A novel design that enhances flying safety with ‘one button’ instant power and very low drag when in the stowed position.”
The LEAP Aero 2011 Outstanding Achievement Award was, “Granted for significant achievement in the field of electric flight for a single event or cumulative effort in any of the following areas: engineering, design, public outreach, regulatory, or education.”
Bertrand Piccard, Andre Borschberg and the Solar Impulse Team won, the judges explained, because, “We believe that the flights of Solar Impulse compare with Charles Lindbergh’s flights in the Spirit of St. Louis, and the flights of SpaceshipOne, in that each shifted public perception of the potential of their respective industries. These efforts had their own extraordinary challenges and evolved in different ways, but they each took a nascent industry and moved it into mainstream consciousness. This is a critical step toward reaching a tipping point that will move the aviation industry into the future. From a spectacular original vision to assembling a world class team to the execution of the test flight program to the educational outreach, Solar Impulse has helped to bring the electric aircraft industry to its tipping point.”
Congratulations to all the participants for their ongoing efforts in creating new milestones in green aviation history. We are recipients of the future that they are helping create.