NASA has awarded research contracts worth a total of $12 million to two industry teams to study how the introduction of new aircraft types may affect air traffic management efficiency, aviation safety and the environment in the future.
In June, NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate selected teams led by Raytheon Company of Waltham, Mass., and Sensis Corp. of East Syracuse, N.Y., to receive separate 18-month study contracts valued at $6 million each. The research topic is "Integration of Advanced Concepts and Vehicles into the Next Generation Air Transportation System." "Through these studies we can begin to understand how to design an air traffic management system that can accommodate the aircraft of the future," said Karlin Toner, director of NASA's Airspace Systems Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The teams will use modeling and simulation to examine the potential impacts of seven particular classes of air vehicles on the nation's airspace. The vehicles classes are: very light jets, super heavy transports, uncrewed aircraft, supersonic transports, cruise efficient short takeoff and landing aircraft, rotorcraft and business class aircraft. Some of these vehicles already are being introduced, and are posing challenges to operators and users of the airspace system. The studies are intended to identify gaps in knowledge and to provide NASA and its partners with recommendations for future research and analysis. NASA is collaborating with other U.S. government agencies and industries on the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The initiative aims to apply satellite-based navigation, surveillance and networking technologies to help meet future air traffic demands. The Raytheon Company team includes Northup Grumman in El Segundo, Calif.; Gulfstream Aerospace in Long Beach, Calif.; Intelligent Automation Inc. in Mendota Heights, Minn.; Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Va.; University of California, Berkeley; George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.; University of Illinois, Urbana; University of Maryland, College Park; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. The Sensis Corporation team members include Georgia Tech, Atlanta; CSSI Inc. of Washington; ATAC Corporation in Sunnyvale, Calif.; L-3 Communications in Billerica, Mass.; Honeywell Labs in Minneapolis; and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.