quinta-feira, 1 de janeiro de 2009

Aeronautics and Transportation - NASA 51 Highest Priorities

Air transportation system is vital to the economic well-being and security of nations. To support continued U.S. leadership in aviation, Congress and NASA requested that the National Research Council undertake a decadal survey of civil aeronautics research and technology (R&T) priorities that would help NASA fulfill its responsibility to preserve U.S. leadership in aeronautics technology.

The United States is a leader in global aeronautics, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) has a critical role to play in preserving that position of leadership. NASA researchfacilities and expertise support research by other parts of the federal government and industry, and theresults of research conducted and/or sponsored by NASA are embodied in key elements of the U.S. airtransportation system, military aviation, and the space program. Maintaining a position of leadership inany field requires staying ahead of the competition by being the first to recognize and bridge each newgap into the future. This is generally a challenging task; were it not so, others would have overtaken theleader to set a faster pace. NASA aeronautics research can maintain a leadership position and carry onthis tradition as long as its research is properly prioritized and research tasks are executed with enoughdepth and vigor to produce meaningful results in a timely fashion.


The Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics (NRC, 2006) presents a set of strategic objectives that thenext decade of research and technology development should strive to achieve. It also provides a set ofthe highest-priority R&T challenges- characterized by five common themes - and an analysis of keybarriers that must be overcome to reach the strategic objectives. The purpose of the Decadal Survey isto develop a foundation for the future - a decadal strategy for the federal government’s involvement incivil aeronautics, with a particular emphasis on NASA’s research portfolio.

The Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics also includes guidance on how federal resources allocated for aeronautics research should be distributed between in-house and external organizations, how aeronauticsresearch can take advantage of advances in crosscutting technology funded by federal agenciesand private industry, and how far along the development and technology readiness path federal agenciesshould advance key aeronautics technologies. It also provides a set of overall findings and recommendationsto provide a cumulative, integrated view of civil aeronautics R&T challenges and priorities.

The Decadal Survey focuses on five areas that encompass the R&T of greatest relevance to civil aeronautics:

• Area A: Aerodynamics and aeroacoustics.

• Area B: Propulsion and power.

• Area C: Materials and structures.

• Area D: Dynamics, navigation, and control, and avionics.

• Area E: Intelligent and autonomous systems, operations and decision making, human integrated systems, and networking and communications.

The Decadal Survey then identifies and prioritizes within each area a set of key R&T challenges according to their ability to accomplish strategic objectives for U.S. aeronautics research. At the time the study was conducted, the federal government had yet to define what those strategic objectives shouldbe. Therefore, in order to conduct the ranking, the authors of the Decadal Survey identified and definedsix strategic objectives that, in their estimation, should motivate and guide the next decade of civil aeronautics research in the United States, pending the release of a national research and development(R&D) plan for aeronautics.

The six strategic objectives from the Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics are as follows (NRC, 2006, p. 1):

In the same way, the research plans for the Next Generation

Air Transportation System (NGATS)

Air Traffic Management(ATM)-Airportal and ATM-Airspace

Projects were prepared before the Next Generation Air Transportation System Joint

Planning and Development Office (JPDO) had formally established R&D requirements.

As a result the Airportal and Airspace Projects are a good-faith effort to meet expected JPDO requirements in both content and timing, pending release of an R&D:
• Increase capacity.
• Improve safety and reliability.
• Increase efficiency and performance.
• Reduce energy consumption and environmental impact.
• Take advantage of synergies with national and homeland security.
• Support the space program.

A quality function deployment (QFD) process was used to identify and rank-order a total of 89 R&T challenges in relation to their potential to achieve the above strategic objectives. The Decadal Survey recommends that NASA use the 51 highest-priority challenges as the foundation for the futureof NASA’s civil aeronautics research program during the next decade (see Table 1-1).

The Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics identifies several R&T challenges that are a high national priority, but they are not a high priority for NASA. This was the case if the challenge was poorly aligned with NASA’s mission, if other organizations were likely to overcome the challenge, if NASA lacked the supporting infrastructure to investigate a particular challenge, and/or if the level of risk associatedwith the challenge was inappropriate for NASA research. The following challenges from the Decadal Survey fall into this category (i.e., high national priority, but not a high NASA priority):

• B11. Alternative fuels and additives for propulsion that could broaden fuel sources and/or lessenenvironmentalimpact
• B13. Improved propulsion system tolerance to weather, inlet distortion, wake ingestion, birdstrike, and foreign object damage
• C11. Novel coatings
• C13. Advanced airframe alloys
• D11. Secure network-centric avionics architectures and systems to provide low-cost, efficient,fault-tolerant,onboard communications systems for data link and data transfer
• D13. More efficient certification processes for complex systems
• E11. Automated systems and dynamic strategies to facilitate allocation of airspace and airportresources
• E13. Feasibility of deploying an affordable broad-area, precision navigation capability compatiblewith international standards
• E17. Change management techniques applicable to the U.S air transportation systemGiven the statement of task for this study, this report does not address NASA research as it relatesto the above challenges or other challenges that are not included in

The Decadal Survey also makes eight recommendations that summarize action necessaryto properly prioritize civil aeronautics R&T and achieve the relevant strategic objectives.requirements document by the JPDO. Likewise, the committee’s assessments necessarily reflect the status of those projects atthat point in their evolution. QFD is a group decision-making methodology often used in product design.

The Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics assumes that risk is too low for NASA if it is so low that industry can easilycomplete the research, and the risk is too high if the scientific and technical hurdles are so high that there is very little chanceof success.

The numbering of the challenges here and throughout this report is in accordance with the numbering scheme in the DecadalSurvey of Civil Aeronautics (NRC, 2006).

There are - among NASA, the academic community, and the civilian aerospace industry - enoughskilled research personnel to adequately support the current aeronautics research programs at NASAand nationwide, at least for the next decade or so. NASA may experience some localized problems atsome centers, but the requisite intellectual capacity exists at other centers and/or in organizations outside NASA. Thus, NASA should be able to achieve its research goals, for example, by using NASA ResearchAnnouncements or other procurement mechanisms; through the use of higher, locally competitive salariesin selected disciplines at some centers; and/or by creatinga virtual workforce that integrates stafffrom multiple centers with the skills necessary to address a particular research task. The content of the NASA aeronautics program, which has a large portfolio of tool development but little or no opportunitiesfor flight tests, may in some cases hamper the ability to recruit new staff as compared with the spaceexploration program. In addition, there will likely be increased requirements for specialized or newskill sets. Workforce problems and inefficiencies can also arise from fluctuations in national aerospaceengineering employment and from uneven funding in particular areas of endeavor.


NRC (National Research Council). 2006. Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics:

Foundation for the Future. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

NRC. 2007. Building a Better NASA Workforce: Meeting the Workforce Needs for the National Vision for Space Exploration. Washington,D.C.: The National Academies Press.

NSTC (National Science and Technology Council). 2006. National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy. Washington, D.C.: Officeof Science and Technology Policy.

NSTC. 2007. National Plan for Aeronautics Research and Development and Related Infrastructure. Washington, D.C.: Office of Science andTechnology Policy.

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