National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
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RECAPTURING
NASA'S AERONAUTICS FLIGHT
RESEARCH CAPABILITIES






Committee to Assess NASA’s Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities

Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES




THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS     500 Fifth Street, NW     Washington, DC 20001

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 competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study is based on work supported by Contract NNH10CD04B between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-25538-7
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-25538-4

Cover: The cover depicts three aircraft. The upper two are potential future aircraft designs. At lower left is the X-15, which was flown by Neil Armstrong seven times, once to over 207,000 feet. Design by Tim Warchocki.

Copies of this report are available free of charge from:

Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
National Research Council
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

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. Upon 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. Ralph J. Cicerone 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. Charles M. Vest 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. Harvey V. Fineberg 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 Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.nationalacademies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
×

OTHER RECENT REPORTS OF THE AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ENGINEERING BOARD

NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities: Restoring NASA’s Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space (Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board [ASEB], 2012)

An Interim Report on NASA’s Draft Space Technology Roadmaps (ASEB, 2011)

Limiting Future Collision Risk to Spacecraft: An Assessment of NASA’s Meteoroid and Orbital Debris Programs (ASEB, 2011)

Preparing for the High Frontier—the Role and Training of NASA Astronauts in the Post-Space Shuttle Era (ASEB, 2011)

Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era (Space Studies Board [SSB] with ASEB, 2011)

Summary of the Workshop to Identify Gaps and Possible Directions for NASA’s Meteoroid and Orbital Debris Programs (ASEB, 2011)

Advancing Aeronautical Safety: A Review of NASA’s Aviation Safety-Related Research Programs (ASEB, 2010)

Capabilities for the Future: An Assessment of NASA Laboratories for Basic Research (Laboratory Assessments Board with ASEB, 2010)

Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth-Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Final Report (SSB with ASEB, 2010)

Final Report of the Committee to Review Proposals to the 2010 Ohio Third Frontier (OTF) Wright Projects Program (WPP) (ASEB, 2010)

America’s Future in Space: Aligning the Civil Space Program with National Needs (SSB with ASEB, 2009)

Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop (SSB with ASEB, 2009)

An Assessment of NASA’s National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (ASEB, 2009)

Final Report of the Committee for the Review of Proposals to the 2009 Engineering and Physical Science Research and Commercialization Program of the Ohio Third Frontier Program (ASEB, 2009)

Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (ASEB, 2009)

Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Interim Report (SSB with ASEB, 2009)

Radioisotope Power Systems: An Imperative for Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Space Exploration (SSB with ASEB, 2009)

Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop (ASEB, 2008)

A Constrained Space Exploration Technology Program: A Review of NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program (ASEB, 2008)

Final Report of the Committee for the Review of Proposals to the 2008 Engineering Research and Commercialization Program of the Ohio Third Frontier Program (ASEB, 2008)

Final Report of the Committee to Review Proposals to the 2008 Ohio Research Scholars Program of the State of Ohio (ASEB, 2008)

Launching Science: Science Opportunities Provided by NASA’s Constellation System (SSB with ASEB, 2008)

Managing Space Radiation Risk in the New Era of Space Exploration (ASEB, 2008)

NASA Aeronautics Research: An Assessment (ASEB, 2008)

Review of NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program: An Interim Report (ASEB, 2008)

Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA’s Constellation System: Interim Report (SSB with ASEB, 2008)

United States Civil Space Policy: Summary of a Workshop (SSB with ASEB, 2008)

Wake Turbulence: An Obstacle to Increased Air Traffic Capacity (ASEB, 2008)

Limited copies of ASEB reports are available free of charge from

Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
National Research Council
The Keck Center of the National Academies
500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
(202) 334-2858/aseb@nas.edu
www.nationalacademies.org/aseb.html

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
×

COMMITTEE TO ASSESS NASA’S AERONAUTICS FLIGHT RESEARCH CAPABILITIES

WESLEY L. HARRIS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chair

MARK ANDERSON, Boeing Research and Technology

NEIL A. ARMSTRONG, EDO Corporation

EDWARD L. BURNETT, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company

INDERJIT CHOPRA, University of Maryland

RICHARD S. CHRISTIANSEN, Sierra Lobo, Inc.

ROBERT A. COWART, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation

JOHN B. HAYHURST, The Boeing Company (retired)

TIMOTHY LIEUWEN, Georgia Institute of Technology

RONALD F. PROBSTEIN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

ELI RESHOTKO, Case Western Reserve University

ROGERS E. SMITH, Consultant; NASA (retired)

JOHN TYLKO, Aurora Flight Sciences

RANDY VOLAND, ACENT Laboratories LLC

DEBORAH D. WHITIS, General Electric Aviation

Staff

DWAYNE A. DAY, Senior Program Officer, Study Director

CATHERINE A. GRUBER, Editor

AMANDA R. THIBAULT, Research Associate

TERRI BAKER, Program Associate

DANIELLE PISKORZ, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern

MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
×

AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ENGINEERING BOARD

LESTER L. LYLES, The Lyles Group, Chair

ELLA M. ATKINS, University of Michigan

AMY L. BUHRIG, The Boeing Company

INDERJIT CHOPRA, University of Maryland, College Park

JOHN-PAUL B. CLARKE, Georgia Institute of Technology

RAVI B. DEO, EMBR

VIJAY K. DHIR, University of California, Los Angeles

EARL H. DOWELL, Duke University

MICA R. ENDSLEY, SA Technologies

DAVID GOLDSTON, Natural Resources Defense Council

R. JOHN HANSMAN, JR., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

JOHN B. HAYHURST, The Boeing Company (retired)

WILLIAM L. JOHNSON, California Institute of Technology

RICHARD KOHRS, Independent Consultant, Dickinson, Texas

IVETT LEYVA, Air Force Research Laboratory, Edwards Air Force Base

ELAINE S. ORAN, Naval Research Laboratory

ALAN G. POINDEXTER, Naval Postgraduate School

HELEN L. REED, Texas A&M University

ELI RESHOTKO, Case Western Reserve University

EDMOND SOLIDAY, United Airlines (retired)

Staff

MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director

CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Administrative Coordinator

TANJA PILZAK, Manager, Program Operations

CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Information Management Associate

CHRISTINA O. SHIPMAN, Financial Officer

SANDRA WILSON, Financial Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
×

Preface

As a result of discussions between NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Jaiwon Shin and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board Chair Ray Colladay, the National Research Council formed the Committee to Assess NASA’s Flight Research Capabilities in early 2011. The committee’s task was to:

Perform a study to assess and make recommendations about how best to integrate flight research into the current Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s (ARMD) fundamental research activities and integrated systems research activities. In conducting the study and preparing its report the committee will undertake the following tasks:

   •   Within the set of goals and challenges being addressed by NASA’s Aeronautics Research program, identify those challenges where research program success can be achieved most effectively through flight research (in addition to, or as opposed to, other analytical or experimental approaches);
   •   Identify any goals and challenges in the NASA Aeronautics program that may be limited due to an anticipated lack of available flight research capability;
   •   Review the current portfolio of ARMD flight research activities and the flight research needs of ARMD’s aeronautics program, and identify programmatic and research requirements gaps;
   •   Review the capabilities and limitations of the current fleet of NASA aeronautics research aircraft in terms of their ability to meet the above requirements and gaps;
   •   Consider how the research opportunities might be pursued in an economical, affordable, and technically rigorous way (for example, by partnering with the NASA Science Mission Directorate, other U.S. government agencies and departments, industry, the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC), and other international partners); and
   •   Recommend how NASA might maintain a robust flight research program within defined budget scenarios.

The scope of this assessment includes all ARMD research, including where/how future flight testing can add value to aeronautics research, vehicle and vehicle subsystem/component technologies, next generation air traffic management (NextGen) technologies and technologies related to the safety of flight. The study should consider (1) the role of X-planes and/or demonstrator vehicles in aeronautics research and their potential to reduce the risks associated with technology maturation, performance, and deployment or insertion into flight vehicles and (2) the potential benefit of using unclassified flight research testbeds owned by other government agencies, industry, academia, and elsewhere. The budget scenarios for the committee’s recommendations should include options such as a baseline scenario that is bounded by the current ARMD budget outlook, an augmented scenario that represents a frugal approach to flight experimentation that meets programmatic goals but one that is not necessarily constrained by the present budget

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
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outlook, and a scenario that is unconstrained by the present budget outlook. It should also include a recommendation on the core components of a well-balanced (see Task 1), effective NASA Aeronautics program.

The 14-member committee met three times: in Edwards, California, on April 20-22, 2011, and in Washington, D.C., on June 13-15, 2011, and on August 30-September 1, 2011. In addition, individual members of the committee also met with NASA officials at the NASA Ames Research Center and with an Air Force official from the Air Force Propulsion Research Laboratory. At these meetings, the committee gathered information on the current research program and discussed recommendations for future research programs.

The committee was assisted by presentations and information provided by a number of current and former NASA officials as well as representatives of the U.S. Air Force. In addition to these officials, the committee heard from Stewart Baillie of the National Research Council Canada; Marla Oliver Brieger of the German Aerospace Center, DLR; John Langford of Aurora Flight Sciences; and Dennis O’Donoghue of Boeing. The committee also heard from a panel of seven engineers at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Corporation’s Palmdale facility. The committee expresses its gratitude to those who generously provided information.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
×

Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (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. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Ella M. Atkins, University of Michigan,

John-Paul B. Clarke, Georgia Institute of Technology,

Eugene W. Covert, USAF (retired); MIT (emeritus),

Kenneth M. Ford, Institute for Human and Machine Cognition,

John Hansman, Jr., Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Preston A. Henne, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation,

John S. Langford, Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, and

Mark Lewis, University of Maryland.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse any conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Robert A. Frosch, Harvard University. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional 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.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
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Dedicated to

Neil A. Armstrong
Aviator, educator, and pioneer in aeronautics
1930-2012

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13384.
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In the five decades since NASA was created, the agency has sustained its legacy from the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) in playing a major role in U.S. aeronautics research and has contributed substantially to United States preeminence in civil and military aviation. This preeminence has contributed significantly to the overall economy and balance of trade of the United States through the sales of aircraft throughout the world. NASA's contributions have included advanced flight control systems, de-icing devices, thrust-vectoring systems, wing fuselage drag reduction configurations, aircraft noise reduction, advanced transonic airfoil and winglet designs, and flight systems. Each of these contributions was successfully demonstrated through NASA flight research programs. Equally important, the aircraft industry would not have adopted these and similar advances without NASA flight demonstration on full-scale aircraft flying in an environment identical to that which the aircraft are to operate-in other words, flight research.

Flight research is a tool, not a conclusion. It often informs simulation and modeling and wind tunnel testing. Aeronautics research does not follow a linear path from simulation to wind tunnels to flying an aircraft. The loss of flight research capabilities at NASA has therefore hindered the agency's ability to make progress throughout its aeronautics program by removing a primary tool for research.

Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities discusses the motivation for NASA to pursue flight research, addressing the aspects of the committee's task such as identifying the challenges where research program success can be achieved most effectively through flight research. The report contains three case studies chosen to illustrate the state of NASA ARMD. These include the ERA program and the Fundamental Research Program's hypersonics and supersonics projects. Following these case studies, the report describes issues with the NASA ARMD organization and management and offers solutions. In addition, the chapter discusses current impediments to progress, including demonstrating relevancy to stakeholders, leadership, and the lack of focus relative to available resources.

Recapturing NASA's Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities concludes that the type and sophistication of flight research currently being conducted by NASA today is relatively low and that the agency's overall progress in aeronautics is severely constrained by its inability to actually advance its research projects to the flight research stage, a step that is vital to bridging the confidence gap. NASA has spent much effort protecting existing research projects conducted at low levels, but it has not been able to pursue most of these projects to the point where they actually produce anything useful. Without the ability to actually take flight, NASA's aeronautics research cannot progress, cannot make new discoveries, and cannot contribute to U.S. aerospace preeminence.

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