Transportation Research Board Special Report 263
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Copyright 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance.
This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
The study was sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board. Committee for a Study of Public-Sector Requirements for a Small Aircraft Transportation System.
Future flight : a review of the small aircraft transportation concept /Committee for a Study of Public-Sector Requirements for a Small Aircraft Transportation System, Transportation Research Board, National Research Council.
p. cm.—(Special report / Transportation Research Board, National Research Council ; 263)
1. Local service airlines—United States. 2. Aeronautics, Commercial—United States—Planning. 3. Air travel—United States. I. Title. II. Special report (National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board) ; 263.
TL724 .N38 2002
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Engineering
Institute of Medicine
National Research Council
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
The Transportation Research Board is a division of the National Research Council, which serves the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation by stimulating and conducting research, facilitating the dissemination of information, and encouraging the implementation of research results. The Board’s varied activities annually engage more than 4,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation.
Committee for a Study of Public-Sector Requirements for a Small Aircraft Transportation System
H. Norman Abramson,
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas,
Donald W. Bahr,
GE Aircraft Engines (retired), Cincinnati, Ohio
California Department of Transportation (retired), Sacramento
Max E. Bleck,
Raytheon Corporation (retired), Benton, Kansas
Charles River Associates, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts
Walter S. Coleman,
Regional Airline Association (retired), McLean, Virginia
James W. Danaher,
National Transportation Safety Board (retired), Alexandria, Virginia
John J. Fearnsides,
George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
John D. Kasarda,
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Charles A. Lave,
University of California, Irvine
Nancy G. Leveson,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
Robert G. Loewy,
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
James G. O’Connor,
Pratt & Whitney Company (retired), Coventry, Connecticut
Herbert H. Richardson,
Texas A&M University System, College Station
Daniel T. Wormhoudt,
Environmental Science Associates, San Francisco, California
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF
Thomas R. Menzies, Jr., Study Director,
Transportation Research Board
Alan Angleman, Senior Program Officer,
Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
Michael Grubbs, Research Assistant,
Transportation Research Board
In August 1999, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) held a workshop at the request of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to examine its Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) concept. Individuals from the aviation, transportation infrastructure, public policy, research, and finance communities were invited to participate in the 2-day event, during which managers from NASA’s Office of Aerospace Technology described their ongoing efforts to advance the state of technology in general aviation and to further the development and use of advanced small aircraft as a means of personal transportation.
Workshop participants were tempered in their response to the SATS concept and NASA’s plans to pursue it. They asked many questions—about the transportation needs that such a system would meet, the practicality of trying to define and plan a transportation system far in advance, and the rationale for NASA’s involvement in transportation system planning. Nevertheless, most participants were impressed by the advanced technologies and capabilities described and urged NASA to sponsor a more comprehensive assessment of the SATS concept by TRB and the National Research Council (NRC). NASA agreed, funding this study during spring 2000. The study Statement of Task is presented in Box P-1 and discussed in more detail in Chapter 1.
Following usual NRC procedures, TRB assembled a committee with a range of expertise and a balance of perspectives on issues pertaining to the study topic. H. Norman Abramson, Executive Vice President Emeritus of the Southwest Research Institute, chaired the committee, which included 15 members with expertise in aircraft engineering and manufacturing, airport management and planning, air traffic control, aviation safety, economic development, demographics, transportation system planning, and travel demand analysis. Committee members served in the public interest without compensation.
The committee convened six times during a 16-month period. As noted in the Foreword, all of these meetings except the last occurred before the September 11, 2001, terrorist airline hijackings and attacks. The committee spent much of its time gathering and evaluating data relevant to the SATS concept, and these empirical findings underpin the study conclusions and recommendations. The committee did not, however, have sufficient time to examine the security implications of SATS in a similarly thorough manner in light of the concerns raised by the September terrorist attacks. The most it could do is offer its expert judgment of potential implications,
Statement of Task
This study will address the following two key questions:
In addressing these questions, the committee will:
The committee’s report will include findings regarding the SATS concept in terms of the need, potential benefits, feasibility issues, and effectiveness. It will then offer guidance regarding changes in public policies, laws, funding arrangements, and public education required for a Small Aircraft Transportation System to be realized.
which are provided in a brief Afterword. The committee believes that many of the security issues relevant to general aviation today would also apply to SATS. The Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies are now in the process of examining ways to reduce the potential for terrorism involving both commercial and general aviation. NRC is contributing to these efforts and has convened a special panel to identify how science and technology can aid in countering terrorism involving aviation and other transportation modes. The chairman of this committee is a member of that special panel.
Most of the early meetings of the TRB SATS study committee were open to the public. During the first meeting, NASA research managers briefed the committee on the SATS concept, relevant research under way, and plans for additional research and technology projects. NASA arranged for other experts to assist with the briefings, including John Bartle, University of Nebraska; George Donohue, George Mason University; Ken Wiegand and Keith McCrea, Virginia Department of Aviation; Andres Zellweger, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University; Jim Rowlette and Jeff Breunig, Federal Aviation Administration; and William Hammers, Optimal Solutions. Samuel L. Venneri, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Office of Aerospace Technology, gave the committee an overview of how the SATS concept and research program relate to the broader goals of aeronautics research and technology development at NASA.
In conjunction with the committee’s second meeting, held in Williamsburg, Virginia, the committee visited the NASA Langley Aeronautics Research Center for detailed briefings and technology demonstrations by NASA researchers Mark Ballin, Tom Freeman, Charles Buntin, Paul Stough, Ken Goodrich, Michael Zernic, and Bill Willshire, as well as NASA’s SATS research partners at the Research Triangle Institute, Hampton Roads, Virginia. Between the first and second meetings, several committee members also visited the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Air Venture 2000 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, visiting the exhibits of many developers and suppliers of new and advanced general aviation aircraft and supporting systems.
During the Williamsburg meeting, the committee organized several panel discussions that shed light on a number of relevant issues, such as the relationship between demographics, economics, and travel demand; human factors and automation; pilot performance, training, and general aviation safety; air traffic control procedures and the capacity of the national airspace system; and airport use, expansion, and community noise concerns. These discussions provided much information and insights that were referred to repeatedly by the committee during its subsequent deliberations. The committee wishes to thank the following panel discussants for their important contributions to the study: Steven J. Brown, Associate Administrator for Air Traffic Services, Federal Aviation Administration; Brian M. Campbell, President, Campbell-Hill Aviation Group; Thomas Chappell, President and CEO, Chappell, Smith & Associates; C. Elaine McCoy, Professor and Chair, School of Aviation, Ohio University; Eric Nordling, Vice President for Market Planning, Atlantic Coast Airlines; Clinton V. Oster, Jr., Professor of Economics, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University; and John S. Strong, Professor of Economics and Finance, School of Business Administration, College of William and Mary.
During its third meeting, the committee met with representatives of several companies that are designing advanced small aircraft and their components. Vern Raburn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eclipse Aviation, described his company’s plans to design, certify, and manufacture a lower-cost twin-engine jet aircraft for use in general aviation. Bruce Hamilton, Director of Sales and Marketing, Safire Aircraft Company, discussed his company’s plans to do the same. George Rourk, Director, Business Development, and Ray Preston, Vice President of New Business
Development at Williams International Company, described compact and lightweight turbofan engines being developed to power a new generation of small jet aircraft. Michael Schrader, Director of Sales at The Lancair Company, discussed his company’s new, high-performance piston-engine airplanes, which have incorporated several advanced features and technologies, including integrated cockpit displays developed partly through public-private consortia sponsored by NASA. During this meeting, the committee also discussed potential uses for these technologies in applications other than passenger transport. Robert Lankston, Managing Director of the Supplemental Air Operations for Fedex Express, provided insights in this regard by describing his company’s use of small aircraft for express package delivery services. The committee thanks all of these participants for their important contributions to this study.
In addition, special appreciation is expressed to NASA’s Bruce Holmes, Manager of the General Aviation Program Office, and David Hahne, Integration Lead, SATS Planning Team. They were the committee’s main points of contact with NASA. They attended most of the committee’s meetings, provided detailed explanations and updates of the SATS program, and furnished numerous reports and planning documents at the request of the committee. Thanks are also due to other General Aviation Program Office staff for assistance with information requests and for planning numerous presentations and demonstrations for the committee.
Thomas R. Menzies, Jr., managed the study and drafted the final report under the guidance of the committee and the supervision of Stephen R. Godwin, Director of Studies and Information Services. Alan Angleman assisted with committee meetings, data collection, and the composition of initial draft report sections. Michael Grubbs also provided assistance with data collection and analysis.
The report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
Appreciation is expressed to the following individuals for their review of this report: Linden Blue, San Diego, California; Anthony J. Broderick, Catlett, Virginia; Jack E. Buffington, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Frank S. Koppelman, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois; Maria Muia, Indiana Department of Transportation, Indianapolis; Agam Sinha, MITRE Corporation, McLean, Virginia; and Charles F. Tiffany, Tucson, Arizona. Although these reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the committee’s findings and conclusions, nor did they see the final report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Richard M. Goody, Harvard University (emeritus), Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Lester A. Hoel, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Appointed by NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institu-
tional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
Suzanne Schneider, Associate Executive Director of TRB, managed the report review process. The report was edited and prepared for publication by Norman Solomon under the supervision of Nancy Ackerman, Director, Reports and Editorial Services. Alisa Decatur prepared the manuscript. Jocelyn Sands directed project support staff. Special thanks go to Amelia Mathis and Frances Holland for assistance with meeting arrangements and correspondence with the committee.
The study committee convened six times between June 2000 and October 2001. It met for the final time 5 weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist hijackings of four U.S. airliners. The tragic consequences of these hijackings and the subsequent restrictions imposed on aircraft operations in the commercial and general aviation sectors were therefore apparent to the committee. Many of the security restrictions were lifted before the committee completed its report, while some remained in effect. Although the longer-term implications of the terrorist threat to aviation remain unclear, the potential for aircraft to be misused will endure as a major public safety and national security concern.
Because the committee completed most of its deliberations and analyses before the attacks of September 11, it had limited opportunity to reflect on how new safety and security concerns might affect the Small Aircraft Transportation System concept and program. These reflections, which are offered in an Afterword, do not conflict with the main conclusions of this report; rather, they validate the committee’s overarching concern about the wisdom of trying to preconceive and promote a fully defined transportation system for the future. Events since September 11 demonstrate that needs and circumstances change over time—sometimes abruptly—and that we cannot have the foresight to predict such changes with specificity.