1
Introduction and Overview

Safety is paramount throughout the aviation enterprise. It is the central consideration in all aspects of aircraft design, manufacture, maintenance, and operations; in the training and readiness of pilots and crew; and in the design, operation, and management of the National Airspace System. As a result, aviation has a long history of technological advances accompanied by continued safety improvement. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), U.S. mainline air carriers1 average about 0.1 fatal accidents per million flight hours, while operators of general aviation aircraft average 10 to 15 fatal accidents per million flight hours.2 Twenty-five years ago, fatal accident rates were three to four times higher among mainline carriers, and about one-third higher for general aviation. These marked safety improvements have occurred even as total hours flown by aircraft in the National Airspace System have more than doubled since 1985.3 Although these safety gains represent a tremendous and hard-won accomplishment, they cannot breed complacency. Users of the nation’s aviation system have come to expect more safety with each new aircraft model, innovation in air transport services, and improvement in air traffic management procedures and technologies. In a global aviation system where change is inevitable, new safety challenges must be continuously monitored, understood, and addressed.

Ensuring aviation safety is an overarching goal of the aviation industry, a priority of the federal government, and the primary responsibility of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A combination of both public- and private-sector research has been, and will likely continue to be, critical to meeting these safety demands by furthering the understanding, technologies, operating procedures, and methods needed for predicting and preventing safety problems and for achieving even higher levels of safety performance. The FAA undertakes applied research in support of its operational and regulatory programs and to address pressing safety problems that arise in the field. The aviation industry also undertakes applied research in support of safe product development, use, and operations. Advancing the state of aviation safety is also a core mission of the aeronautics research and technology programs of NASA, dating back to the agency’s origins as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. NASA’s role has tended to be longer-term in nature, aimed at advancing fundamental knowledge of aeronautics science and engineering through its research expertise and facilities.

1

Data are for Part 121 carriers. Smaller, Part 135 carriers average about five fatal accidents per million flight hours.

2

 National Transportation Safety Board, Annual Review of Aircraft Accident Data: U.S. Air Carrier Operations, for years 2001 to 2005, retrieved from http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/.

3

Statistics are derived from annual NTSB accident reports retrieved from http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/.



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1 Introduction and Overview Safety is paramount throughout the aviation enterprise. It is the central consideration in all aspects of aircraft design, manufacture, maintenance, and operations; in the training and readiness of pilots and crew; and in the design, operation, and management of the National Airspace System. As a result, aviation has a long history of technological advances accompanied by continued safety improvement. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), U.S. mainline air carriers1 average about 0.1 fatal accidents per million flight hours, while operators of general aviation aircraft average 10 to 15 fatal accidents per million flight hours. 2 Twenty-five years ago, fatal accident rates were three to four times higher among mainline carriers, and about one-third higher for general aviation. These marked safety improvements have occurred even as total hours flown by aircraft in the National Airspace System have more than doubled since 1985.3 Although these safety gains represent a tremen- dous and hard-won accomplishment, they cannot breed complacency. Users of the nation’s aviation system have come to expect more safety with each new aircraft model, innovation in air transport services, and improvement in air traffic management procedures and technologies. In a global aviation system where change is inevitable, new safety challenges must be continuously monitored, understood, and addressed. Ensuring aviation safety is an overarching goal of the aviation industry, a priority of the federal government, and the primary responsibility of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A combination of both public- and private-sector research has been, and will likely continue to be, critical to meeting these safety demands by fur- thering the understanding, technologies, operating procedures, and methods needed for predicting and preventing safety problems and for achieving even higher levels of safety performance. The FAA undertakes applied research in support of its operational and regulatory programs and to address pressing safety problems that arise in the field. The aviation industry also undertakes applied research in support of safe product development, use, and operations. Advancing the state of aviation safety is also a core mission of the aeronautics research and technology programs of NASA, dating back to the agency’s origins as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. NASA’s role has tended to be longer-term in nature, aimed at advancing fundamental knowledge of aeronautics science and engineering through its research expertise and facilities. 1 Data are for Part 121 carriers. Smaller, Part 135 carriers average about five fatal accidents per million flight hours. 2 National Transportation Safety Board, Annual Review of Aircraft Accident Data: U.S. Air Carrier Operations, for years 2001 to 2005, retrieved from http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/. 3 Statistics are derived from annual NTSB accident reports retrieved from http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/. 6

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 INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW In recent years, NASA has placed increasing emphasis on safety research in accordance with the National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy (2006)4 and the National Plan for Aeronautics Research and Devel- opment and Related Infrastructure (2007)5 issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics (2006),6 and a number of other advisory reports and work plans. Since 2000, aviation safety constitutes one of the main program areas in the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD), consisting of about 12 percent of the directorate’s budget.7 In addition, safety-related research is supported by other ARMD programs, including airspace systems and fundamental aeronautics. STuDY CHARgE, SCOPE, AND APPROACH Section 305 of the NASA Reauthorization Act of 2008 calls on the National Research Council to conduct an independent assessment of NASA’s aviation safety-related research programs: The Administrator shall enter into an arrangement with the National Research Council for an independent review of the NASA’s aviation safety-related research programs. The review shall assess whether (1) The programs have well-defined, prioritized, and appropriate research objectives; (2) The programs are properly coordinated with the safety research programs of the Federal Aviation Administration and other relevant federal agencies; (3) The programs have allocated appropriate resources to each of the research objectives; and (4) Suitable mechanisms exist for transitioning the research results from the programs into operational technologies and procedures and certification activities in a timely manner. The committee was given this charge during its first meeting on June 22-23, 2009. During the meeting, the committee was briefed by staff of the House Committee on Science and Technology on the origins and intentions of the legislative request. The committee was also briefed by the leadership of NASA’s Aviation Safety Program on the program’s structure, content, funding, and management. Representatives from the FAA’s aviation safety and research programs explained the research coordination and transition activities that exist between the FAA and NASA. The committee observed that in seeking a review of safety-related research programs, Congress implied an interest that goes beyond the work of ARMD’s Aviation Safety Program to include safety-related research in other programs in the directorate. ARMD acknowledged this broader interest and proposed that the study review all work in the Aviation Safety Program as well as research having significant safety relevance in the Airspace Systems Program and the Funda - mental Aeronautics Program. The committee concurred with this proposed scope, wanting to ensure that the study would cover the gamut of aviation safety-related research undertaken by NASA while recognizing that a safety interest permeates all aeronautics research. The committee interpreted the legislative charge as seeking an assessment of whether NASA’s aviation safety- related research programs are guided by a well-defined, well-prioritized, and appropriate set of objectives and whether resources are appropriately allocated among the programs. Accordingly, the committee decided against conducting a detailed, technical appraisal of the individual research activities and chose to focus instead on review - ing the means by which aviation safety-related research is prioritized, resourced, and carried out. In addition, the 4 National Science and Technology Council, National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C., December 2006, available at http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/releases/ national_aeronautics_rd_policy_dec_2006.pdf. 5 National Science and Technology Council, National Plan for Aeronautics Research and Development and Related Infrastructure, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C., December 2007, available at http://www.aeronautics. nasa.gov/releases/aero_rd_plan_final_21_dec_2007.pdf. 6 National Research Council, Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2006. 7 Amy Pritchett, Director, NASA Aviation Safety Program, “Safety-Related Research in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate: Overview,” presentation to the committee, September 3, 2009, p. 17.

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 ADVANCING AERONAUTICAL SAFETY committee would examine how well the research is coordinated with the safety programs of the FAA and whether adequate means exist for transitioning the research to application where appropriate. Concerned about the limited time available for this study, the committee asked NASA to identify the objec - tives guiding its safety research and to address the following set of questions: • What drove the selection of the research objectives and why did NASA elect to pursue them? • What research activities are supporting each objective and how are the activities being conducted? • How are the research activities coordinated with the FAA and other federal government agencies? • What resources have been allocated to each objective? • What are the plans for transitioning the research results? • Do the activities in support of the objectives have the appropriate people and expertise? The committee convened for a second time at NASA’s Ames Research Center on September 3-4, 2009. At this meeting, the committee received more detailed briefings on the Aviation Safety Program and its objectives, as well as responses to the series of questions posed above. The committee used this opportunity to meet with researchers managing and working on specific aviation safety projects and to observe research results. During its third meet - ing on November 19-20, 2009, the committee met with the leadership of the Airspace Systems Program and the Fundamental Aeronautics Program to learn more about the safety-related work in their programs. The committee also met with the associate administrator for ARMD, seeking a better understanding of how safety research is programmed across the directorate. During this third meeting, several members of the committee also attended the Aviation Safety Technical Conference sponsored by the Aviation Safety Program, providing additional exposure to the work being undertaken (see Appendix C for conference program content). The committee met for the final time on February 22-23, 2010, to develop this report. The information and insights gleaned during these meetings were central to the committee’s undertaking of this review and fulfilling its charge. ORgANIZATION AND CONTENT OF NASA’S AVIATION SAFETY-RELATED RESEARCH NASA manages four mission directorates: Science, Exploration Systems, Space Operations, and Aeronautics Research. ARMD accounts for about 2.5 percent of NASA’s fiscal year (Fy) 2010 budget.8 ARMD’s research goals are to improve airspace capacity and mobility, aviation safety, and aircraft performance while reducing noise, emissions, and fuel burn.9 ARMD manages three major research programs that support the safety goal: the Aviation Safety Program, the Airspace Systems Program, and the Fundamental Aeronautics Program. Although most of the agency’s research directly related to aviation safety is undertaken by the first, the latter two also undertake research with direct safety relevance. Each of these three ARMD programs is charged with conducting “long-term, cutting-edge research for the benefit of the broad aeronautics community.”10 The stated aim of the Aviation Safety Program is to develop innovative concepts, tools, and technologies to improve the intrinsic safety attributes of current and future aircraft.11 The Airspace Systems Program aims to develop revolutionary concepts, capabilities, and technologies that will enable significant increases in the capacity, efficiency, and flexibility of the National Airspace System. The Fun - damental Aeronautics Program seeks to enable revolutionary changes for vehicles that fly in all speed regimes. 8 See “A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promise. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration 2010 Budget,” infor - mation prepared by the White House Office of Management and Budget, Washington, D.C., available at http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/315067main_ fy10_nasa.pdf. 9 See NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Web site at http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/. 10 See NASA, FY 2009 Performance and Accountability Report, NP-2009-11-633-HQ, NASA, Washington, D.C., available at http://www. nasa.gov/pdf/403618main_NASA_Fy09_Performance_Accountability_Report.pdf. 11 A smaller, fourth research program, the Integrated Systems Research Program, is a relatively new effort whose goal is to conduct in - tegrated-systems research on promising aeronautical concepts and technologies, exploring, assessing, and demonstrating their benefits in a relevant environment.

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9 INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW TABLE 1.1 Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate 5-year Budget, Fy 2010 to Fy 2014 Funding (millions of dollars) Fy 2010 Fy 2011 Fy 2012 Fy 2013 Fy 2014 Aviation Safety Program 60.1 59.6 59.2 61.7 62.5 Aircraft Aging and Durability 11.4 11.2 11.7 12.1 12.1 Integrated Intelligent Flight Deck 12.5 13.3 11.6 12.6 13.3 Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control 16.4 17.0 17.6 18.2 18.2 Integrated Vehicle Health Management 19.8 18.2 18.3 18.9 18.9 Airspace Systems Program 81.4 82.9 83.9 87.2 88.3 Fundamental Aeronautics Program 228.4 230.0 233.6 239.0 245.9 Aeronautics Test 74.7 77.1 77.2 76.6 78.7 Integrated Systems 62.4 64.4 67.1 64.4 60.5 Aeronautics Total 507.0 514.0 521.0 529.0 536.0 SOURCE: NASA, ARMD Fy 2010 Budget Proposal, available at http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/345954main_7_ Aeronautics_%20Fy_2010_ UPDATED_final.pdf. ARMD’s Aviation Safety Program The Aviation Safety Program was formed in 2000, shortly after the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security12 (known as the Gore Commission) challenged the federal government and the aviation indus - try to reduce the aviation accident rate by 80 percent. As stated in NASA’s 2003 Strategic Plan, the program’s purpose was “to develop prevention, intervention, and mitigation technologies and strategies aimed at one or more causal, contributory, or circumstantial factors associated with aviation accidents,” 13 commensurate with the Gore Commission’s recommendations to achieve near-term reductions in accident and fatality rates. In 2006, ARMD reorganized its research program coincidental with the 2006 National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy, which stressed the importance of NASA aligning its research with the needs of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and maintaining a broad foundational research program aimed at “preserving the nation’s intellectual stewardship and mastery of aeronautics core competencies.” 14 The Aviation Safety Program’s funds are divided among four major research projects, or portfolios: Aircraft Aging and Durability (AAD), Integrated Intelligent Flight Deck (IIFD), Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control (IRAC), and Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM). The approved and proposed budgets for the programs for Fy 2010 to Fy 2014 are shown in Table 1.1. The program is managed by a program director and a deputy director located at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., while each of the four projects is led by a principal investigator, a project manager, and a project scientist working from the NASA research centers at Langley, Ames, Glenn, or Dryden. Most of the research is performed by scientists and engineers at the centers through research agreements among project leaders and center branch chiefs. To a more limited extent, projects also engage federal government agencies, the aviation industry, and academia. The general subject matter in each the four projects of the Aviation Safety Program are described next and summarized in Box 1.1. 12 See Executive Order 13015: White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, August 22, 1996, Federal Register Document 96-21996, available at http://ntl.bts.gov/DOCS/eo13015.html. 13 See NASA, 200 Strategic Plan, NP-2003-01-298-HQ, Washington, D.C., available at http://www.nasa.gov/ pdf/1968main_strategi.pdf. 14 National Science and Technology Council, National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C., December 2006, available at http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/releases/national_ aeronautics_rd_policy_dec_2006.pdf.

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0 ADVANCING AERONAUTICAL SAFETY BOX 1.1 Aims of Aviation Safety Program Research Portfolios Aircraft Aging and Durability • Improving understanding of how cracks in materials start and grow; • Developing computer models to predict crack growth in metallic and nonmetallic materials; • Identifying the durability of nonmetallic (composite) materials used for aircraft fuselages; • Improving the ability to detect bonded joint degradation; • Identifying the long-term service and environmental needs of composite jet engine containment cases; • Improving understanding of how quickly engine disks operating at hotter temperatures degrade over time; • Developing new software tools to better identify and repair wiring faults. Integrated Intelligent Flight Deck • Assigning clear roles and responsibilities to human and automated agents; • Predicting human and automated agent performance in both normal and abnormal conditions; • Evaluating human, automation, and joint human-automation performance to help make automation more comprehensible to pilots; • Predicting joint human-automation performance in operating environments that are not yet realized, such as NextGen’s trajectory-based operations; • Achieving a “better than visual” flight operations capability; • Enabling a highly collaborative working environment for flight deck system operators. Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control • Understanding the dynamics of current and future aircraft when in damaged and upset conditions; • Developing control systems that adapt reliably to both the anticipated and the unanticipated; • Developing aircraft guidance for emergency operation; • Modeling and sensing airframe and engine icing; • Modeling effective and reliable human-automation systems. Integrated Vehicle Health Management • Developing on-board systems that can predict, detect, diagnose and propose solutions for failures that involve the airframe, propulsion systems, avionics (hardware) and software; • Creating reliable and accurate systems that reveal vehicle or airspace problems before they become accidents; • Designing and testing new sensors that detect and display airframe and engine icing and other environmental hazards. SOURCE: Aviation Safety Program fact sheet, available at http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/pdf/avsafe_fs.pdf.

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 INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW Aircraft Aging and Durability Out of concern that most previous research on aircraft aging and durability has been largely reactive in nature and based more on observations than on fundamental understanding, NASA’s stated goal for its AAD portfolio is to perform foundational research in aging science that will yield multidisciplinary analysis and optimization capa - bilities for the detection, prediction, mitigation, and management of aging-related hazards for future civilian and military aircraft.15 The focus of AAD research, therefore, is on aging and damage processes in “young” aircraft, rather than life extension of legacy vehicles. The emphasis of the project’s research is on new and emerging mate - rial systems and fabrication techniques and the potential hazards associated with aging-related degradation. Stated goals are to take a proactive approach to identify aging-related hazards before they become critical and to develop technology and processes to incorporate aging mitigation and maintenance into the design of future aircraft. 16 Integrated Intelligent Flight Deck NASA anticipates that methods for piloting aircraft will change dramatically over the coming decades with the transition to NextGen. NASA envisions changes that will lead to aircraft and airspace systems that are more complex, along with greater complexity of flight deck systems and procedures. The stated goal of IIFD, there - fore, is to develop tools, methods, principles, guidelines, and technologies for the advent of revolutionary flight deck systems that ensure safe operations.17 In so doing, IIFD seeks to enhance the ability to predict demands and create a comprehensive set of capabilities (e.g., technologies, procedures, and specifications for crew training) for meeting the demands of the kinds of operational concepts proposed for NextGen. To this end, the program is seeking to develop both predictive and generalizable methods and models for designing technologies and operat - ing procedures suitable for use by the aviation community for systematically considering human and technology performance throughout procedure and technology design. IIFD also seeks revolutionary advancements in the capability and performance of avionics technology in selected areas where new demands for high-integrity capa - bilities are required, such as external hazard detection. Integrated Vehicle Health Management The stated goal of IVHM is to develop validated tools, technologies, and techniques for automated detec - tion, diagnosis, and prognosis that enable mitigation of adverse events during flight, such as events that arise from damage, degradation, and environmental hazards.18 One of the research challenges of IVHM is to further the development of real-time automated reasoning and decision-making tools and techniques to integrate mes - sages from the health management systems of individual aircraft and combine them with results from fleet-wide vehicle health assessments. Although the project title implies an aircraft focus, its scope is intended to be broader by encompassing events at the air transportation system level. For instance, IVHM research projects are aimed at developing probabilistic models of fault and failure modes and data-mining algorithms to analyze data sources from current aircraft fleets to develop models of potential system failures. Through development of data-mining capabilities for system-wide data sets, the project seeks to further the development of analytic techniques for identifying precursors to failures. 15 NASA, Aviation Safety Program Aircraft Aging and Durability Project Technical Plan Summary, Washington, D.C., available at http:// www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/nra_pdf/aad_technical_plan_c1.pdf. 16 NASA, Aviation Safety Program Aircraft Aging and Durability Project Technical Plan Summary, Washington, D.C., available at http:// www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/nra_pdf/aad_technical_plan_c1.pdf. 17 NASA, Integrated Intelligent Flight Deck Technologies: Technical Plan Summary (FY2009-FY20), Aviation Safety Program, Aero- nautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA, Washington, D.C., March 13, 2009, available at http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/nra_pdf/ iifd_tech_plan_2009.pdf. 18 See NASA, Integrated Vehicle Health Management Technical Plan, Version 2.0, Aviation Safety Program, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA, Washington, D.C., November 2, 2009, available at http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/nra_pdf/ivhm_tech_plan_c1.pdf.

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2 ADVANCING AERONAUTICAL SAFETY Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control IRAC conducts research to advance the state of aircraft flight control to provide on-board control resilience for ensuring stability, maneuverability, and safe-landing capabilities in the presence of adverse conditions (for example, a pilot’s loss of control of an aircraft caused by environmental factors, actuator and sensor faults or failures). The stated goal of the project is to arrive at a set of validated multidisciplinary integrated aircraft control design tools and techniques for enabling safe flight in the presence of such adversities. 19 By advancing understanding of the dynamics involved in loss of control, the project seeks to gain a better understanding of how an adaptive system can best regain control. The focus of the effort is on current and next generation subsonic civil air transports, although the program technical plan states that a majority of the challenges addressed are general in nature and are thus applicable to a larger class of aviation vehicles. IRAC research results are being validated through the use of NASA simulators, wind tunnels, and sub- and full-scale flight test vehicles. Safety-Related Research in Other ARMD Programs The Airspace Systems Program’s goal is to develop and demonstrate future concepts, capabilities, and tech - nologies that maintain safety and meet NextGen requirements to enable major increases in air traffic management capacity, flexibility, and efficiency. While the Airspace Systems Program must consider safety across its research portfolio, some of its projects aimed primarily at increasing system capacity and efficiency are especially relevant to safety. For example, runway overruns are one of the top safety issues in aviation. Through its program of research on automated separation assurance for en route and transition airspace and the airport surface, the Airspace Sys - tems Program seeks to develop and evaluate airport traffic conflict-detection algorithms, resolution advisories, and alerting display concepts. Its wake vortex research program seeks to safely increase runway capacity by improving existing modeling capabilities, developing a better understanding of wake measurement accuracy, and developing a probabilistic model to enable a dynamic aircraft separation capability. The Airspace Systems Program is also examining methods to define weather impacted areas that can be integrated with air traffic management tools. The Airspace Systems Program collaborates with IIFD researchers to evaluate the impact of communications alternatives (datalink vs. voice) and advanced displays on flight-deck workload and situational awareness. In addition, the Joint Program Development Office’s (JPDO) integrated workplan calls for NASA to take the lead in developing the capability to perform complex systems validation and verification (V&V) for NextGen. 20 The Aviation Safety Program and the Airspace Systems Program share the responsibility for furthering V&V modeling techniques for safety-critical concepts and technologies. The main goal of the Fundamental Aeronautics Program is to develop capabilities necessary to address national challenges in air transportation, including noise, emissions, fuel consumption, acceptable supersonic flight over land, mobility, and the ability to ascend or descend through planetary atmospheres. While safety considerations are inherent in much of the research conducted within the Fundamental Aeronautics Program, the focus of the research is largely on performance, efficiency, and environmental challenges for future air vehicles. Nevertheless, the program does coordinate with the Aviation Safety Program as appropriate to help ensure that certain safety research concerns are addressed. Two research areas within the Fundamental Aeronautics Program’s Subsonic Rotary Wing Project are focused on rotorcraft safety, specifically flights involving hazardous icing conditions and crash survivability. Out of concern that icing is a barrier to all-weather operations for rotorcraft in NextGen, the program is seeking to improve the agency’s existing icing tools, methods, and databases to make them applicable to rotorcraft application for design and certification. The work is being conducted in the Icing Research Branch at Glenn Research Center, which has a long history of examining rotorcraft icing research. Likewise, believing that rotary wing configurations may 19 See NASA, Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control Technical Plan, Aviation Safety Program, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA, Washington, D.C., May 1, 2009, available at http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/nra_pdf/irac_tech_plan_c1.pdf. 20 See Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), NextGen Integrated Work Plan Version .0, posted on September 30, 2008, at http://www.jpdo.gov/iwp.asp. JPDO was established by the 105th Congress as part of the Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (Public Law 108-176).

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 INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW have application for large-scale passenger transportation in NextGen, NASA is seeking to improve the crash and survivability characteristics of these aircraft, which have unique crashworthiness and survivability requirements due to their configurations (for example, heavy mechanical components located above the passenger compart - ment) and flight operations (for example, impact velocities that often contain a significant vertical component). Current practice for demonstrating crashworthiness relies mainly on full-scale crash testing, the cost of which limits the amount of data available to establish confidence in designs and validates designs only for a specific set of crash parameters and terrain. The Fundamental Aeronautics Program’s research seeks to improve the models and methodologies (validated by performing component and full-scale helicopter crash tests) used to predict crashworthiness of rotorcraft and to develop and demonstrate advanced structural concepts for improved energy absorption and crashworthiness. This research employs NASA’s specialized expertise and facilities in crashworthi - ness technologies, including its Landing and Impact Research Facility and scientific and engineering expertise in impact dynamics for spacecraft return. REPORT ORgANIZATION The remainder of this report consists of three chapters. Chapter 2 explains the sources of input in NASA’s determination of important safety research needs and how the agency uses this input to establish research priori - ties. Chapter 3 examines the research that is being undertaken to address each of six safety concerns that NASA presented as being the main objectives of safety research. These objectives are assessed with respect to each of the four questions in the legislative request for this study. Chapter 4 integrates the information from these chapters to produce a series of findings and concludes with recommended actions.