National Academies Press: OpenBook

Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril (2003)

Chapter:Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions

« Previous: Appendix A: Statement of Task and Study Approach
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions." Transportation Research Board and National Research Council. 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10815.
×

B
Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions

In response to the statement of task for Phase 1 of this study, the Committee on Aeronautics Research and Technology for Vision 2050 assessed the future visions and goals for U.S. civil aviation as expressed in five source documents (see Appendix A). To gain additional insight into U.S. visions and goals, the committee also included in its assessment a comparable vision for civil aeronautics in Europe, European Aeronautics: A Vision for 2020—Meeting Society’s Needs and Winning Global Leadership, which was produced by the Group of Personalities and released in 2001 (available online at <http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/growth/aeronautics2020/en/>).

NASA’S NEW GOALS

After the committee began its work, NASA adopted new goals and objectives for its aeronautical research program. These changes were part of a reformulation of NASA’s agency-wide vision, mission, and objectives, which are now as follows:

  • NASA’s vision

    • to improve life here

    • to extend life to there

    • to find life beyond

  • The NASA mission

    • to understand and protect our home planet

    • to explore the universe and search for life

    • to inspire the next generation of explorers … as only NASA can

  • Role of the Aerospace Technology Enterprise

    • to pioneer and validate high-payoff technologies: to improve the quality of life, to enable exploration and discovery, and to extend the benefits of innovation throughout our society

Based on the above, NASA’s Aerospace Technology Enterprise established Aeronautics Technology Strategic Theme Objectives, which are listed in the second column of Table B-1. NASA’s old goals and objectives are listed in the first column.

In making these changes, NASA has replaced time-phased, quantitative goals (e.g., “double the aviation system capacity within 10 years, and triple it within 25 years”) with open-ended, qualitative goals (e.g., “enable more people and goods to travel faster and farther, anywhere, anytime, with fewer delays.”). For some technologies quantifiable goals are difficult to define, and limiting research to areas with easily quantifiable goals would reduce the scope of NASA’s research to a subset of the overall problem. On the other hand, quantifiable goals could be readily established in many areas, and even as NASA moves away from quantitative research goals, the report of the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry (2002) concludes that “the Administration and Congress should adopt … aerospace technology demonstration goals for 2010 as a national priority.” In the area of air transportation, the specific goals endorsed by the Aerospace Commission are as follows:

  • Demonstrate an automated and integrated air transportation capability that would triple capacity by 2025.

  • Reduce aviation fatal accident rate by 90 percent.

  • Reduce transit time between any two points on earth by 50 percent.

  • Reduce aviation noise and emissions by 90 percent.

The first three goals are equivalent to NASA’s now obsolete 25-year goals for improving system capacity, safety, and mobility. The emission goal does not specify what emissions should be reduced. In any case, a 90 percent reduction is more ambitious that NASA’s previous 25-year goals, which were to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions." Transportation Research Board and National Research Council. 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10815.
×

TABLE B-1 Comparison of Future Goals and Visions for Civil Aeronautics

NASA Goals and Objectives

 

Next Generation Air Transportation System

 

Superseded

Current

National R&D Plan

2050 Vision

NASA Aeronautics Blueprint

European Aeronautics: A Vision for 2020

Safety

  • Accident rate reduced 90% in 25 years

Safety and Security

  • Protect air travelers and the public: Decrease the aircraft accident rate and mitigate the consequences of accidents

  • Efficiently decrease aviation system vulnerability to threats

  • Mitigate consequences of hostile acts

Safety and security

  • Risk management

  • Prevention of accidents and incidents

  • Reduction of injuries when accidents occur

  • Reduction of casualties, system disruption, and damage when incidents occur

Safety and security

  • No fatalities or injuries

  • Human-centered systems to compensate for human error

  • Education and training for operators and users (lifetime learning)

  • Accident prevention

  • Reduction of injuries when accidents occur

  • Prevention of incidents: reduction of casualties when incidents occur without disrupting normal operations

Safety and security

  • Decentralized air transportation system to improve safety in case of system failure, human error, or terrorist attack

Safety and security

  • Improved situational awareness in all weather

  • Aircraft health monitoring systems, self-healing systems, and adaptive fault-tolerant controls to respond to system failures and human error

  • Aircraft hardening to withstand explosions

  • Improved monitoring of projected flight paths to prevent aircraft collisions and detect unauthorized diversions

  • Prevention of malicious or ill-advised pilot actions from causing an accident

  • Automated passenger identification and threat assessment

Safety

  • Reduce accident rate by 80%

  • Aircraft systems that lighten the burdens on the crew, help them make correct decisions, and reduce the impact of human error

  • Higher standards of training

  • Monitoring systems that react to technical problems a they occur

Mobility

  • Reduce intercity door-to-door transportation time by 67% in 25 years

  • Reduce long-haul transcontinental travel time by 50% in 25 years

Capacity

  • Triple the capacity of the air transportation system in 25 years

Technology innovation

  • Revolutionary technologies to enable fundamentally new system capabilities

Engineering innovation

  • Advanced tools, processes and cultureto enable rapid, high-confidence, and cost-efficient design of revolutionary systems

Mobility

  • Enable more people and goods to travel faster and farther, anywhere, anytime, with fewer delays

New aerospace missions

  • Pioneer novel aerospace concepts to support earth and space science missions

National Airspace System

  • Improve system capacity, capabilities, cost-effectiveness, and services

  • Architecture definition and evolution

  • Architecture implementation

  • Improving air traffic operations

  • Involving air traffic controllers in developing new systems and associated training

  • Human factors research for controller operations, system maintenance, and improved weather services

  • Developing break-through technologies to meet growing demand

Efficiency

  • Integrated

  • Intermodal

Advanced technology

  • Improved transportation system definition tools and vehicle design tools and methods

  • Optimized vehicle and system operations

  • New classes of superefficient, intelligent, reliable, and environmentally friendly vehicles

Efficiency

  • Automated management of the airports and airspace for all types of aircraft, day and night, in all weather conditions

  • Cultural and institutional changes

  • Radically new air transportation management systems

  • System definition tools

National Airspace System

  • Weather

  • Reduced impact of low visibility

  • Better observation and prediction of adverse weather and vortices

  • Traffic optimization

  • Automated, distributed air traffic management

  • High-capacity airports

  • Integrated arrival, departure, and surface decision-support tools

  • Synthetic vision systems for aircraft

  • Airport design and operation models

  • Smart nontowered airports

  • CNS

  • Satellite-based CNS systems

  • Active and passive precision navigation/surveillance systems

Revolutionary vehicles

  • Global range

  • Supersonic speed

  • Vertical lift and extremely short takeoff and landing

  • Long-duration uninhabited aircraft

  • Nanotechnology, variable aerodynamic shapes, and advanced propulsion and power systems

Educated workforce

  • Motivating the next generation to work in aviation

  • Lifetime learning for the existing workforce

  • Multidisciplinary research using virtual laboratories

Air transportation system

  • System capacity increase 200% in all weather condition

  • Sophisticated ground-and satellite-based CNS systems

  • Free Flight

  • Airports freed of noise-related operating restrictions

  • Air transportation integrated into an efficient multimodal transportation system

  • Integrated ATM system that is so effective it become the de facto world standard

Educational policies to provide skilled aeronautics workforce

Aircraft design and production

  • Integrated design, manufacturing, and maintenance systems

  • Large-capacity aircraft (~1,200 passengers)

  • Supersonic speed

  • Innovative vertical takeoff and landing

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions." Transportation Research Board and National Research Council. 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10815.
×

NASA Goals and Objectives

 

Next Generation Air Transportation System

 

Superseded

Current

National R&D Plan

2050 Vision

NASA Aeronautics Blueprint

European Aeronautics: A Vision for 2020

Noise

  • Perceived noise of new aircraft reduced 75% in 25 years

Emissions

  • NOx of new aircraft reduced 80% in 25 years

  • CO2 of new aircraft reduced 50% in 25 years

Environment

  • Protect local environmental quality and the global climate by reducing aircraft noise and emissions

Noise

  • Reduce noise by 5 to 10 dB by 2007 and up to 20 dB by 2022

Emissions

  • Local effects: Reduce emissions of NOx by 70% by 2005 and 80% by 2022

  • Global effects: reduce emissions of CO2 by 25% by 2007 and 50% by 2022

Compatibility with the environment

  • Noise

  • Land-management techniques

  • Noxious emissions and green-house gases

  • Energy-efficient air transportation system

  • Non-carbon-based fuels

Compatibility with the environment

Noise

  • Reduce noise restrictions on aircraft operations

  • Eliminate the need to soundproof homes near airports

  • Computational simulation of airflow in the engine and exhaust

  • Low-speed fans and nozzles

  • Low-noise airframe designs (e.g., morphing structures)

Emissions

  • Reductions in NOx to improve local air quality

  • Reductions in CO2 to reduce global effects

Noise

  • Elimination of noise as a nuisance outside airport boundaries through reduction of perceived noise by 50%, better land planning and use, and systematic use of noise reduction procedures

Emissions

  • CO2 and NOx emissions per passenger kilometer reduced by 50% and 80%, respectively, for new aircraft

  • Lower fuel use through drag reduction (using conventional and novel shapes), fuel additives, and better airframe/engine integration

 

Quality and affordability of air transportation

  • Choice of routes and schedules

  • 99% on-time departures and arrivals in all weather

  • Quick airport check-in

  • Comfortable aircraft accommodations

  • Reduced costs for operators, passengers, and freight

 

Primacy of the European aeronautics industry

  • New framework for companies to work together

  • Synergies between civil and military research

  • New standards of quality and effectiveness

  • Time to market cut in half

Commercialize technology

 

Support nationalsecurity:

  • Leverage NASA aeronautics technology investments in partnership with the Department of Defense to support national defense

 

 

Independent of foreign sources of energy

Independent of foreign sources of energy

 

NOTE: CNS, communications, navigation, and surveillance; ATM, air traffic management.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions." Transportation Research Board and National Research Council. 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10815.
×

carbon dioxide by 80 percent and 50 percent, respectively. In order to serve as a reliable guide for research and policy changes, goals for emissions should clearly state whether the goals are for average emissions or “characteristic emission” levels, which are about 15 percent higher than the level of NOx measured during the landing-takeoff cycle specified by the International Civil Aviation Organization. Goals should also be established for cruise operations (to limit climate effects) and landing and takeoff cycles (to limit effects on local and regional air quality). Another possibility would be to establish emissions goals that take into account the operational efficiencies of individual airlines, requiring them to meet goals in terms of emissions per revenue-passenger-mile, for example.

ASSESSING THE GOALS AND VISIONS

The committee identified compatibilities and incompatibilities in the visions and goals above, as they relate to civil aeronautics. The results are summarized in Table B-1 and discussed below. Although the above documents encompass a variety of time periods, starting as early as the late 1990s and extending as far as 2050, the committee concluded that all of the documents consistently emphasize three main thrusts:

  • safety and security

  • capacity of the air transportation system

  • environmental compatibility (noise and emissions)

The visions point to a comprehensive approach to safety and security that includes both prevention of accidents and incidents and mitigation of consequences (in terms of injuries, damage to equipment, and disruption of the air transportation system). Not unexpectedly, the most recent visions—NASA’s Aeronautics Blueprint and the current agency goals and visions—place much more emphasis on security than the visions created before September 11, 2001. As funding for transportation security increases, the magnitude of related technology development efforts is also likely to increase. As with the other major thrusts, long-term plans for developing technology to improve security should be based on a systematic approach that assesses the specific problems that need to be addressed and targets technologies accordingly. For example, security systems should be designed to predict and adapt to future threats to ensure that we are not in a constant state of preparing to “fight the last war.” This requirement is not included in the current U.S. visions.

The visions point to the need for a similarly comprehensive approach when it comes to the capacity of the air transportation system. Research and technology efforts are called for to realize improvements in four areas: (1) the performance of each of the primary elements of the air transportation system: aircraft, air traffic management systems, and airports; (2) the integration of the air transportation system with other modes of transportation; (3) supporting systems such as communications, navigation, and surveillance systems and weather observation and prediction systems; and (4) the design and development processes used to create new technologies and products.

Some of the documents quantify their goals for reducing the noise of new aircraft. NASA’s Blueprint and the European aeronautics vision, however, specify the ultimate goal in terms of operational impact: Aircraft noise should be reduced to the point where it is no longer a nuisance outside airport boundaries and airports are freed from operational restrictions related to noise. In terms of emissions, most of the visions deal only with NOx and CO2. The National Research and Development Plan takes a more open-ended view—it covers all emissions that affect local air quality, global climate, or atmospheric ozone. This broader view is important to ensure that future aeronautics research adequately considers both new understandings about the threat of other emissions and the complex interrelationships among various strategies for dealing with environmental problems. For example, high-altitude emissions of water vapor may be a particularly important environmental consideration for new supersonic aircraft, and some approaches for reducing NOx may increase emissions of particulates.

The European aeronautics vision includes two areas that are not highlighted in any of the U.S. visions:

  • quality and affordability of air transportation

  • global primacy of the aeronautics industry

By including quality and affordability issues, the European vision acknowledges the importance of structuring research and development programs so that they are focused on providing air transportation services that users want to buy and are able to afford. The original 1997 version of NASA’s goals spoke of reducing the cost of air travel by 50 percent within 20 years. However, this goal fell into disfavor with Congress, which seemed to view the meeting of customer demands as an industry responsibility that was inappropriate as a topic of NASA research. Congress reduced NASA’s aeronautics budget to eliminate research related to this goal, so NASA eliminated the goal.

The European vision foresees the following future:

In 2020, European aeronautics is the world’s number one. Its companies … are winning more than 50% shares of world markets for aircraft, engines, and equipment…. The public sector plays an invaluable role in this success story…. Crucially, they are coordinating a highly effective European framework for research cooperation, while funding programmes that put the industry on more equal terms with its main rivals (Group of Personalities, 2001).

The future of the U.S. air transportation system is not necessarily tied to the future of the U.S. aeronautics manufacturing industry. Advanced aircraft and air traffic manage-

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions." Transportation Research Board and National Research Council. 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10815.
×

ment systems could be procured from foreign suppliers if U.S. manufacturers fail to remain competitive. However, the supremacy of the U.S. aeronautics industry provides important national security and economic benefits. A U.S. aeronautics vision and research program that does not explicitly consider the importance of U.S. leadership in aeronautics could make it easier for the Europeans to achieve their vision of global leadership and market dominance.

One of the ways that the European vision foresees achieving global primacy is through greater cooperation and harmony among various elements of the aeronautics community throughout the European Union. Similarly, improved coordination and cooperation in this country would benefit the United States. Close cooperation is needed between NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), for example, to establish requirements for NASA research that are relevant to the air traffic management systems the FAA is likely to procure in the future. The FAA’s ability to support long-term systems analysis and requirements definition is limited, however, because so much effort is expended to solve more immediate problems and keep the air transportation system operating.

Commercialization of technology only shows up in NASA’s goals and objectives. This is an important goal for a research agency like NASA, because the value of its aeronautics research is closely linked to its ability to transfer research results to other organizations that are directly involved in the development or production of aircraft, air traffic management systems, and other aviation products.

Two of the visions include independence from foreign sources of energy. The committee questions the wisdom of giving much consideration to this goal when formulating a national aeronautics research program because it does not believe that freeing one segment of the economy, such as air transportation, from foreign sources of energy would produce significant benefits if the economy as a whole remained dependent on foreign energy. Before diverting significant resources to research intended to free air transportation from foreign energy, the federal government should conduct a comprehensive, economy-wide assessment of various options for reducing U.S. dependence on foreign energy. Such a study might well conclude that the optimum strategy for reducing U.S. dependence on foreign energy should focus on nonaviation uses of petroleum products. A large reduction in the demand for jet fuel would not greatly reduce overall demand for petroleum products. In 2000, jet fuel accounted for less than 9 percent of U.S. consumption of petroleum products (EIA, 2002). In addition, design requirements are more stringent for aircraft engines, especially in terms of reliability and power density, than for virtually any other large-scale user of petroleum. New types of engines are unlikely to be adopted by the aviation industry unless they are first proven in other applications.

REFERENCES

Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry. 2002. Final Report of the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Office of Aerospace. Available online at <www.aerospacecommission.gov/AeroCommissionFinalReport.pdf>.


Energy Information Administration (EIA). 2002. Energy Consumption by Source, 1949-2000. Available online at <www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/txt/tab0511.htm>.


Group of Personalities. 2001. European Aeronautics: A Vision for 2020—Meeting Society’s Needs and Winning Global Leadership, p. 15. Available online at <http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/growth/aeronautics2020/en/>.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions." Transportation Research Board and National Research Council. 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10815.
×
Page55
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions." Transportation Research Board and National Research Council. 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10815.
×
Page56
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions." Transportation Research Board and National Research Council. 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10815.
×
Page57
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions." Transportation Research Board and National Research Council. 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10815.
×
Page58
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Comparative Assessment of Goals and Visions." Transportation Research Board and National Research Council. 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10815.
×
Page59
Next: Appendix C: Biographies of Committee Members »
Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $29.00 Buy Ebook | $23.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

As recently as the summer of 2001, many travelers were dreading air transportation because of extensive delays associated with undercapacity of the system. That all changed on 9/11, and demand for air transportation has not yet returned to peak levels. Most U.S. airlines continue to struggle for survival, and some have filed for bankruptcy. The situation makes it difficult to argue that strong action is urgently needed to avert a crisis of undercapacity in the air transportation system. This report assesses the visions and goals for U.S. civil aviation and technology goals for the year 2050.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!