TABLE ES-1 Fifty-one Highest Priority Research and Technology Challenges for NASA Aeronautics, Prioritized by R&T Area


Aerodynamics and Aeroacoustics


Propulsion and Power


Materials and Structures


Dynamics, Navigation, and Control, and Avionics


Intelligent and Autonomous Systems, Operations and Decision Making, Human Integrated Systems, Networking and Communications

A1 Integrated system performance through novel propulsion–airframe integration

A2 Aerodynamic performance improvement through transition, boundary layer, and separation control

A3 Novel aerodynamic configurations that enable high performance and/or flexible multi-mission aircraft

A4a Aerodynamic designs and flow control schemes to reduce aircraft and rotor noise

A4b Accuracy of prediction of aerodynamic performance of complex 3-D configurations, including improved boundary layer transition and turbulence models and associated design tools

A6 Aerodynamics robust to atmospheric disturbances and adverse weather conditions, including icing

A7a Aerodynamic configurations to leverage advantages of formation flying

A7b Accuracy of wake vortex prediction, and vortex detection and mitigation techniques

A9 Aerodynamic performance for V/STOL and ESTOL, including adequate control power

A10 Techniques for reducing/mitigating sonic boom through novel aircraft shaping

A11 Robust and efficient multidisciplinary design tools

B1a Quiet propulsion systems

B1b Ultraclean gas turbine combustors to reduce gaseous and particulate emissions in all flight segments

B3 Intelligent engines and mechanical power systems capable of self-diagnosis and reconfiguration between shop visits

B4 Improved propulsion system fuel economy

B5 Propulsion systems for short takeoff and vertical lift

B6a Variable-cycle engines to expand the operating envelope

B6b Integrated power and thermal management systems

B8 Propulsion systems for supersonic flight

B9 High-reliability, high-performance, and high-power-density aircraft electric power systems

B10 Combined-cycle hypersonic propulsion systems with mode transition

C1 Integrated vehicle health management

C2 Adaptive materials and morphing structures

C3 Multidisciplinary analysis, design, and optimization

C4 Next-generation polymers and composites

C5 Noise prediction and suppression

C6a Innovative high-temperature metals and environmental coatings

C6b Innovative load suppression, and vibration and aeromechanical stability control

C8 Structural innovations for high-speed rotorcraft

C9 High-temperature ceramics and coatings

C10 Multifunctional materials

D1 Advanced guidance systems

D2 Distributed decision making, decision making under uncertainty, and flight-path planning and prediction

D3 Aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics via closed-loop flow control

D4 Intelligent and adaptive flight control techniques

D5 Fault-tolerant and integrated vehicle health management systems

D6 Improved onboard weather systems and tools

D7 Advanced communication, navigation, and surveillance technology

D8 Human–machine integration

D9 Synthetic and enhanced vision systems

D10 Safe operation of unmanned air vehicles in the national airspace

E1 Methodologies, tools, and simulation and modeling capabilities to design and evaluate complex interactive systems

E2 New concepts and methods of separating, spacing, and sequencing aircraft

E3 Appropriate roles of humans and automated systems for separation assurance, including the feasibility and merits of highly automated separation assurance systems

E4 Affordable new sensors, system technologies, and procedures to improve the prediction and measurement of wake turbulence

E5 Interfaces that ensure effective information sharing and coordination among ground-based and airborne human and machine agents

E6 Vulnerability analysis as an integral element in the architecture design and simulations of the air transportation system

E7 Adaptive ATMatechniques to minimize the impact of weather by taking better advantage of improved probabilistic forecasts

E8a Transparent and collaborative decision support systems

E8b Using operational and maintenance data to assess leading indicators of safety

E8c Interfaces and procedures that support human operators in effective task and attention management

aATM, air traffic management; V/STOL, vertical and/or short takeoff and landing; ESTOL, extremely short takeoff and landing.

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