Goals for a National Partnership in
Aeronautics Research and Technology

II. U.S. Aeronautics Goals

The aeronautics industry represents the strength of America. High-technology manufacturing and products support hundreds of thousands of jobs and thousands of companies. Superior, next-generation U.S. aircraft, engines, avionics, and air transportation system equipment can lead the way to renewed industrial competitiveness for the 21st century, supporting an industrial base critical for our economy and security.

The vision for our partnership is world leadership in aircraft, engines, avionics, and air transportation system equipment for a sustainable, global aviation system.

To achieve this vision, we will focus on three key goals:

In accomplishing these goals, we will pursue the development of high-payoff component technologies, validation and integration of high-risk technologies, as well as the exploration of new concepts to achieve more revolutionary gains.

Maintain the Superiority of U.S. Aircraft and Engines

A prerequisite for superior aircraft is technological superiority in aeronautics. The United States must continue to develop the product and process technologies required for timely, superior subsonic and high-speed civil and military aircraft. Pursuit of technologies that support major improvements in aircraft capabilities can provide a critical edge to maintaining U.S. military aircraft superiority, U.S. civil aircraft competitiveness and improving the affordability of aviation. Without significant investment in these technologies, the United States risks losing the long-term leadership required to maintain a competitive industry.

Maintaining a position of technological leadership requires substantial long-term investment commitment. The significant basic technological commonalty between military and civil aviation products and services must be exploited to increase the productivity and efficiency of our research and technology development activities. This requires government and industry, working together, to actively seek technological goals that are common to both civil and military applications, and to plan responsive technology development programs from the outset. Government must take an active role in bringing together manufacturers, suppliers, and users for early examination and definition of common requirements. DoD, FAA, and NASA must expand their focus on encouraging this early consideration of dual-use applications in technology development programs.

An issue in aeronautics technology development is the extent to which technologies are "validated" as ready for prudent incorporation into an industry product development program. Past military development programs have provided a reasonable degree of validation for technologies applicable to civil products. However, the decline in military development programs, as well as the appearance of some technologies that are largely unique to either sector, has exacerbated this validation issue. It is critical that technology validation efforts be an integral part of our national partnership. To be effective, validation requires programs and facilities capable of providing full-scale data or data that can be confidently extrapolated to full-scale. It is also critical that full use be made of the Department of Defense's (DoD) technology demonstration efforts for cooperative dual–use technology validation efforts. In the civil sector, it is essential to validate implementation costs and economic benefits of new technologies.

Other factors are also becoming increasingly important. In particular, manufacturers must manage R&D cycle time, as well as the interdependence of technology with design, development, manufacturing, and maintenance processes, in order to meet customer demands regarding life-cycle costs, fleet commonalty and product timeliness.

Subsonic Aircraft

For the foreseeable future, domestic and international air transportation needs will be met primarily by large subsonic transport aircraft. Although subsonic transports are relatively mature by the traditional performance measures of speed and altitude, significant increases in the combination of range and payload as well as major improvements in environmental compatibility, efficiency, reliability, and poor weather operability can be achieved. A reduction in aircraft direct operating costs of 25 percent or more is possible with aggressive pursuit of foreseeable technology advances that will improve the lift-to-drag ratio, increase jet engine efficiency, and reduce aircraft weight. Advanced technology, such as advanced wing designs and high-lift systems, integrated design methodologies, improved propulsion systems, integrated flight and propulsion controls, intelligent systems, and lightweight affordable materials, can enable success.

Given the predicted growth in air transportation, the potential exists for significant market niches for other fixed or rotary wing subsonic vehicles. Technological advances can enable commercial development if market pull creates the necessary conditions for success. For example, civil tiltrotor aircraft offer the promise of expanded airport capacity and increased point-to-point short-haul transportation service. Another example is in the general aviation sector, where the U.S. has been in a long, sustained decline in the number of vehicles produced and overall market share. The potential exists, with new technology, to develop safer, more efficient, easier-to-fly aircraft for both business and personal transportation.

The military needs more affordable subsonic aircraft, which means increased capability at reduced cost and size. Greater range and payload capability, reduced signatures, and increased survivability in military rotorcraft, patrol aircraft, and transports offer substantial increases in military capability at reduced cost. These benefits are achievable through technological advances that include more affordable, higher performance turbine engines, light weight structures, integrated flight/thrust-vectoring propulsion control systems, and reduced signatures. Such advances also offer the potential of a fighter-size short-take-off-and-vertical-landing aircraft with greater range/payload capability.

Our partnership must focus on the identification of technological goals and the execution of programs that will enable these improvements in subsonic aircraft. Full advantage must be taken of the synergy between military and civil applications, particularly in the formulation of common technological goals.

High-Speed Aircraft

Projected growth in the long-range commercial market presents a strategic opportunity for U.S. industry to retain its preeminent position in the aeronautics marketplace through successful development and production of a high-speed (Mach 2 -2.5) civil transport (HSCT) aircraft. Market studies estimate that an average of 600,000 passengers per day flying over long, predominantly trans-oceanic routes could support 500 to 1000 HSCT aircraft between 2005 and 2015. Such a vehicle could revolutionize air transportation in the next century by reducing global transportation times significantly, and allowing an even greater level of global economic and cultural integration.

The capability for sustained supersonic flight has existed for many years. But, as the difficulties faced by the Concorde transport have demonstrated, successful high-speed civil aircraft must also satisfy both market and environmental requirements. To date, the required technology to meet these requirements has not been available. Over the last several years, however, intensive government and industry research indicate that such technology is finally within our grasp. These technologies include light-weight, high performance engines, ultra-low emission combustors, light-weight airframe materials, advanced subsystems, and advanced aerodynamics.

Transonic and supersonic aircraft will continue to be the mainstay of military air combat power. Foreseeable technology advances that include high performance, more affordable engines, light-weight structures, and advanced subsystems offer large increases in the sustained cruise speed, range, responsiveness, and combat capability of these types of aircraft at reduced cost.

Again, our partnership must focus on the identification of technological goals and the execution of programs that will enable these improvements. In the case of a commercial high speed transport, the risk level associated with the necessary technology development required for commercial go-ahead exceeds industry's ability to independently pursue a timely R&T program. Therefore, specific efforts to develop the technical data base required for commercial development of an environmentally-compatible high speed civil transport is a key element.

Design and Manufacturing

The future of American aeronautics lies not just in the development of new aircraft, but in the improvement of design and manufacturing processes. Decreasing the time and cost required to design and manufacture aircraft can increase the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and the affordability of air transportation and national security. Aircraft are extremely complex, and the cost to develop a new one can be several billion dollars. U.S. manufacturers are squeezed by demands for more efficient and affordable aircraft while having to compete against subsidized foreign competitors.

Traditionally, government has contributed to private sector efforts by supporting generic test facilities and methodologies applicable to aircraft design and development. Provision of these facilities and methodologies has lowered barriers to entry into, and increased competition in, the industry. Current developments in computing and communications, modeling, simulation and virtual reality, neural networks and intelligent systems, non-intrusive instrumentation, advanced flexible manufacturing, physics-based manufacturing modeling, and lean production concepts hold the promise for reductions—ranging from 30 to 50 percent—in the time and cost required to design, develop, and produce new aircraft.

Significant challenges exist in the development and integration of these technologies into aircraft design and manufacturing processes characterized by large scale, high cost, and infrequent new starts. Our partnership should focus on high leverage 'building blocks' that will contribute to greater integration of the civil and military design and manufacturing base, and that can complement industry efforts at overall process improvement to ensure payoff and timeliness.

The Aeronautics R&D Infrastructure

Aeronautics relies on a base of large-scale generic facilities and basic disciplinary research. The primary aeronautics-specific facilities consist of wind tunnel, simulator, computational, and flight test facilities. These facilities, together with basic aeronautical disciplinary research, such as boundary layer transition and turbulence research, characterization of composite materials, and computational physiological modeling for human factors, provides the R&D infrastructure for the U.S. aeronautics community. Sustaining U.S. capabilities in the development of superior aircraft requires continued investment in this R&D infrastructure. Traditionally, this investment has been spread over government R&D laboratories, industry, and universities. However, because of the large-scale, generic nature of aeronautical facilities and the very long payback period and generic nature of basic disciplinary research, the federal government has taken a lead role in the provision and funding of this R&D infrastructure.

Currently, the severe pressure in both the civil and military markets has led to a serious reduction in military and industry investment in research, development, test, and evaluation. In the long-term, continued reduction in these investments will significantly decrease the flow of technology and human resources available to aeronautics and the nation. This trend, together with the drive toward increasing the payoff of our nation's research investment by increasing the emphasis on validation and commercialization, makes it important to evaluate this nation's aeronautics research programs across government, industry, and academia, with the goal of ensuring adequate breadth and depth in critical technology areas and developing metrics to assess performance.

The U.S. maintains a broad base of world class facilities for the full spectrum of R&D needs. However, newer European wind tunnels focused on aircraft development testing are generally superior to comparable U.S. facilities in overall capability. This has led to increasing utilization of European facilities for U.S. commercial aircraft development testing, creating facilities access and data security risks. The United States needs to maintain national facilities with adequate capability and capacity to satisfy both civil and military requirements.

Improve the Safety, Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness
of the Global Air Transportation System

In some instances, congested airports are undergoing expansion and modernization to meet the ever increasing level of air traffic. In the meantime, continued modernization of communications and navigation systems is playing a significant role in accommodating air travel growth. The adoption of common air traffic management system standards and procedures through collaborative efforts among the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), RTCA, Inc. and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is essential in this process.

Of particular interest to U.S. airlines, general aviation operators, and aircraft manufacturers is the adoption of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) as an element of an internationally accepted Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Industry estimates that airlines worldwide will save as much as $5 billion annually in fuel and other costs when this capability is fully implemented in conjunction with other evolutionary improvements in air traffic management capabilities.

Efforts to improve communications are focused on establishing a robust air-ground data link, in particular, an aeronautical telecommunications network that will be capable of cost-effectively transfer large quantities of information between aircraft and the ground systems that support them. A second initiative is exploiting satellite- based communications for civil aviation applications.

The greatest potential growth in air traffic, and hence in aircraft sales, exists in global regions that have limited air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure today. ATM systems utilizing GNSS and satellite-based data link capabilities are being developed and implemented in some of these regions. The movement toward these new capabilities is having a significant positive effect on aircraft market potential and the efficiency of flight operations while creating a lucrative market for new avionics equipment worldwide. These events illustrate the benefits of U.S. leadership in the development and implementation of a superior, affordable, global air transportation system.

System Capacity and Efficiency

Capacity in the global airspace system is not uniformly distributed and capacity problems vary widely among regions. In 1992 in the U.S., 23 primary airports each experienced more than 20,000 hours of flight delay. The cost to airlines and passengers exceeded $8 billion. By 2002, 33 airports are forecast to reach that level of delay. Improvements in terminal area ATM capabilities, airport expansions and, to a lesser degree, new airport construction will contribute to an alleviation of this problem.

Congestion at European airports, measured by flight delays in excess of 15 minutes, has risen sharply since the mid- 1980s. Currently, about one quarter of all flights are delayed by 15 minutes or more with significant costs to both passengers and airlines. If nothing is done, 11 of Europe's 27 primary airports will be capacity constrained by 1995, rising to 16 in 2000. At the same time, forecast traffic growth will cause airspace congestion. This problem has attracted political attention and the European Civil Aviation Conference has endorsed a plan to harmonize and restructure the disparate national air traffic control systems to improve capacity. However, Europe's main long-term problem remains its lack of sufficient runway capacity.

Capacity problems in Asia are the reverse of those in Europe. New airports are being built and major expansions are taking place at existing ones. However, airspace problems which need multinational coordination to resolve are prevalent. North Pacific routes are already saturated as are those over the South China Sea between the Hong Kong/Taiwan region and the Singapore/Australia region. Routes crossing the India/Pakistan border are inadequate for the traffic from Europe to the southern Asia/Pacific region. As Soviet airspace opens, more northerly tracks over the North Pacific will become available allowing the jet stream to be avoided and shortening flight distances.

Globally, airspace system capacity improvement must include a number of interrelated actions. More runway capacity must be developed where it is needed by better utilizing existing runways and/or by constructing new runways that are efficient in design, construction cost and maintenance requirements. Airports must be accessible for operators of all vehicle types. Full accessibility will insure that the dynamics of the marketplace determine the best aircraft for a particular service. Full accessibility becomes an increasingly difficult issue as totally new types of aircraft, such as high-speed civil transports and civil tiltrotors, enter service. The difficulty arises in sequencing aircraft of widely differing flight characteristics into safe and efficient arrival and departure streams at airports.

New technology is available that will significantly change the way airspace is managed. These technologies - which include satellite-based communications and navigation, data link communications, automatic dependent surveillance, and automation - are now being introduced into aeronautical products and services, airports, and air traffic management systems. The capabilities provided will increase capacity as well as the flexibility and efficiency with which airspace is managed. Air traffic management service providers and system users will have a more collaborative relationship. Before these benefits can be fully realized, however, significant challenges in the integration of space-based, ground-based and airborne systems must be resolved. Focusing our partnership on systems integration and on development of the associated standards and procedures for air traffic management will increase our ability to cost-effectively exploit these technologies thereby improving U.S. industry's position in the marketplace while improving the affordability of aviation worldwide.

Safety and Security

The continuous introduction of new safety technology, such as wind shear alerting systems, ground proximity warning systems, higher strength seats, seat fire-blocking layers, advanced simulation and training techniques, and cabin floor emergency escape lighting, has allowed significant growth in air traffic while maintaining an excellent safety record. Clearly, continued growth in aviation activity requires continued improvements in aviation safety. There are a number of areas where significant safety improvements may be possible in the near-term. For example, better understanding of wake vortex effects and avoidance procedures will increase operational safety.

An adequate understanding of human factors and the effective application of this knowledge is increasing important. Automation is an essential tool for further improving the safety and efficiency of flight operations. But automation is beneficial only where it interfaces effectively with human operators. A national program in aviation human factors is required to develop the knowledge base and application tools required.

Security considerations are also important, especially in international aviation. Unfortunately, the end of the Cold War has not eliminated threats to airline security. A recent study noted that between 1980 and 1990, 28,459 weapons were detected by airport screening devices worldwide. During the same period, 38 hijackings were believed to have been averted with the help of screening devices. Hence the threat posed by terrorism remains.

It is imperative that the United States continue to develop technology, procedures, and the appropriate standards to enhance aviation safety and security. The breadth of technologies and issues requires a broad partnership focused on the development, integration, validation, and certification of such technologies. Working in partnership increases the effectiveness of the development process, allowing technology insertion to occur more rapidly and more efficiently.

Ensure the Environmental Compatibility of Aviation

Remarkable strides have been made in reducing the adverse impacts of aircraft on the environment. Noise and harmful emissions have been diminished with the introduction of each new and derivative aircraft. Today's high- bypass ratio turbofan engines are quiet, efficient, and reliable. Past research investments in technologies to reduce engine noise and emissions are paying dividends today. But more needs to be done. Environmental issues are likely to impose the fundamental limitation on air transportation growth in the 21st century.

As noise associated with the rotating machinery of jet engines has been reduced, aerodynamic and airframe noise has become a larger share of the total noise produced by aircraft. We must therefore seek innovative solutions to reduce both exterior and cabin noise from all sources. This includes the systematic development and validation of additional technologies to reduce engine and airframe noise and the development of flight procedures to reduce community noise exposure.

Because of the significant public benefits from aircraft noise reduction, the U.S. has been aggressive in technology development and application. A U.S. regulation is now in effect to expedite the phaseout of operations of the noisiest aircraft, (called Stage 2) by the year 2000. With the full phase-in of the quieter aircraft (Stage 3), the number of people strongly affected by noise will fall from about 2.7 million to 400,000. After the year 2000, the number of people significantly impacted by noise will slowly start to rise due to the increasing number of flights needed to meet the demand for transportation. The increase in noise impact will be a consequence of the fact that noise impact is a function of both the noise level of each event and the total number of events. Clearly, as the worldwide demand for quieter aircraft intensifies, an aircraft's market share will be strongly influenced by the noise it generates.

Social and political pressures are growing to increase the stringency of aircraft engine emission standards. At present there is insufficient scientific evidence to support such measures or rational, cost-effective actions. Clearly, atmospheric modeling and research must continue in order to inform the policy-making process. Significant increases in energy efficiency and decreases in the emission of noxious chemicals have been realized over the past 30 years. Current challenges vary between general aviation, subsonic transports, and potential second-generation supersonic transports, but the research and technology goal across the board is to increase energy efficiency while decreasing noxious and ozone-depleting chemicals. Our partnership will continue to improve engine technology, such as very high pressure ratio engines and new combustors, to ensure long-term improvement in the environmental compatibility of aviation. In the case of second-generation supersonic transports, enabling technology for environmentally-clean engines that do not impact the earth's ozone layer is a principal requirement for successful development.

The U.S. must maintain leadership in these technologies to ensure the environmental compatibility of aviation and long-term competitiveness. Therefore, our partnership will pursue the development and application of noise and emission reduction technology.

Go to III. A New Aeronautics Partnership
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