Seven aviation and aerospace endeavors are in the running for the 2014 Robert J. Collier Trophy, awarded annually by the National Aeronautic Association "for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America." The winner will be announced on March 11 at the nonprofit NAA’s Springs Awards dinner.
Alan Eustace and the StratEx team. Short for "stratospheric explorer," the StratEx team’s objective was to develop a self-contained system that would permit manned exploration of the stratosphere at altitudes of more than 100,000 feet, says the StratEx website. Last October, Eustace, a 57-year-old Google executive, ascended beneath a helium-filled balloon from a New Mexico airport and cut himself loose to accomplish a jump that established a new world’s altitude record for the mission to test the system.
The Embraer Legacy 500. Now that this state-of-the-art midsized jet with advanced technology and avionics has been certified, it has "redefined" the midsized class of bizjet, says the manufacturer, touting its capability to fly eight passengers coast-to-coast in the United States at Mach .80, its innovative ergonomic features, and a cabin size that makes the aircraft the largest in its class.
The F-16 Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance Team. The NASA-developed Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System is now being integrated into the flight control systems of the Air Force’s F-16s after the software underwent extensive testing. The system is expected to “significantly reduce the incidence of controlled flight into terrain aircraft accidents,” a leading cause of fatalities in aircraft, NASA said.
The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee. This industry-government committee works to improve general aviation safety through "data-driven risk reduction efforts that focus on education, training and enabling new equipment in general aviation aircraft."
The Gulfstream G650. This aircraft, based on a "clean sheet design," features "a highly efficient airfoil that delivers speed and an incredibly smooth ride" for up to 18 passengers, or a maximum range of 7,000 nautical miles, and a maximum takeoff weight of 99,600 pounds.
Orion Exploration Flight Test-1. NASA built its Orion spacecraft "to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities." On Dec. 5, 2014, a Delta IV heavy rocket carried Orion from Cape Canaveral on a flight test consisting of “a two-orbit, four-hour flight that tested many of the systems most critical to safety,” NASA said.
The Orion UAS Team. This is the Aurora Flight Sciences "game changing" long-endurance unmanned aircraft system capable of “extreme persistence” in its capacity to fly for five days at 20,000 feet with a 1,000-pound payload in support of military applications that can include multiple simultaneous intelligence missions. With its strike and long-range capabilities, the UAS can minimize "personnel in harm’s way," says Manassas, Virginia-based Aurora Flight Sciences.
The 2013 Collier Trophy was awarded to Northrop Grumman, the Navy, and the X-47B industry team for "the first unmanned, autonomous air system operating from an aircraft carrier."
The NAA Spring Awards Dinner will be March 11 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia. The formal presentation of the Collier Trophy will take place at a later date at the Collier Dinner in Arlington, the NAA said.