continued evolution of existing technologies and programs.

  • Identify critical research initiatives needed to reach key goals.

  • Determine if major changes in national aeronautical research and development programs would make it easier to achieve the key goals.

The committee’s third and final report, to be issued 26 months from study initiation, will summarize the results of Phase 2, including findings and recommendations for action.

The committee will not collect classified military information. The committee will also avoid making findings or recommendations in areas that are discussed in the source documents for this study, but which are outside the scope of this study. Out-of-scope topics include development of technology for building exoatmospheric flight vehicles; the organization and role of government agencies and advisory groups; levels of government funding (the committee’s recommendations should focus on funding priorities rather than any particular level of funding); methods of interaction among government, industry, and academia; sources and use of private capital; size of the required workforce; legal and regulatory frameworks; and U.S. defense, social, foreign, and economic policies. Satellite-based communications, navigation, and surveillance systems are within the scope of the study.


During Phase 1, as requested by the study sponsors, the committee refrained from creating a detailed vision of its own. Instead, the committee evaluated existing visions and noted shortcomings that should be corrected in future visions.

During Phase 2, the assessment of technology goals for the year 2050 began with the four tasks outlined above. Upon review and discussion—and with the support of the sponsors—the committee agreed to focus its efforts on three technology areas where research in the short term could lead to substantial long-term improvements in key areas of the vision and goals:

  • system modeling and simulation

  • performance of the air transportation system

  • aircraft performance

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