EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — At this week’s AirVenture, officials with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) introduced a new Founder’s Innovation Prize competition designed to encourage innovation to enhance safety in amateur-built aircraft.
It will use the best ideas from EAA members and chapters, with cash prizes for the best emerging technology.The competition was announced at the annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in during a forum that included Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Charlie Precourt, chairman of the EAA Safety Committee, and Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety.
The annual prize will have a specific safety focus each year, with the upcoming year’s goal emphasizing the design and development of a low-cost solution that recognizes imminent loss of control (LOC) in aircraft and provides an innovative way of increasing situational awareness or automation to the pilot.
“This is about bringing together the best thinking among all our members to improve safety for all of us,” Elliott said. “We challenge EAA members and chapters to use the ‘hand, mind, and heart’ credo of EAA’s founder, Paul Poberezny, to continually move the safety standard higher and again show how the ingenuity of the homebuilt aircraft community can efficiently make flying better and safer for all of us.”
The competition’s judging criteria and timeline is also innovative, according to EAA officials.
Entrants must focus on cost, ease of installation, simplicity, wide applicability, and effectiveness in reducing loss-of-control occurrences. Entries will be accepted beginning Oct. 1, 2015.
The top five entries will be invited to a Theater in the Woods presentation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016, where judges will review and critique the five innovations in a live, “Shark Tank”-style program. The judging panel will be led by chief judge and legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan.
The designer of the winning idea will receive a $25,000 cash prize, with second-place receiving $10,000 and third place $5,000.
“This is not a one-year concept,” Elliott said. “This will be a yearly, ongoing competition that encourages safety innovation for amateur-built aircraft and general aviation. We advance the amateur-built community and all of general aviation by learning from one another and inspiring ideas to move forward.”