consumption, noise, and emissions; accommodate projected growth in air traffic while preserving and enhancing safety; and maximize flexibility and effectiveness in the use of airports, airspace, and aircraft.16

NextGen Concept and Technologies Development

The NextGen Concept and Technologies Development project is devising methods to increase the efficiency and capacity of the National Airspace System. The project is studying new methods to optimize in-route flight plans and departure and arrival procedures. These new methods must also account for the effects of weather and other dynamic changes to the airspace. Concepts are also being developed to improve the efficiency and safety of surface operations.

NextGen Systems Analysis, Integration and Evaluation

The NextGen Systems Analysis, Integration and Evaluation project is an independent test organization for solutions proposed by the NextGen Concept and Technologies Development project. The project uses systems analysis and simulation techniques to demonstrate the viability of NextGen concepts. This project is also responsible for the eventual flight demonstrations and evaluations of these systems.

Airspace Systems Program Flight Test Activities

Flight research within the Airspace Systems Program is limited. The majority of the work is being conducted in sophisticated simulation facilities. As work progresses there are flight activities to verify and validate the new technologies developed. The Airspace Systems Program is planning an integrated test utilizing many aircraft performing normal operations within the national airspace. To do this the program is looking to partner with one or more air carriers that have already equipped their aircraft fleet with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast equipment.

Airspace Systems Program Budget

The FY2010 budget for the Airspace Systems Program was $79.0 million. The budget requested in FY2012 is increased to $92.7 million. The projected budget in the years FY2013 to FY2016 shows a steady decline.17 It is surprising that this budget decease would occur during the period that is expected to include flight testing activities. This decline will require that partners provide the majority of funds for the flight research activities.


The Aeronautics Test Program (ATP) does not conduct flight research; however, it does make it possible for the other programs within ARMD to conduct both ground and flight testing. ATP is largely responsible for the operations and maintenance of ground test facilities such as wind tunnels but is also charged with providing ground-based mission control rooms for flight test activities. This program is responsible for the maintenance of the fleet of NASA aircraft; as such its responsibility is in large part to provide support to mission directorates within NASA. ATP is also involved in the preparation of aircraft for flight test. For example, ATP is currently modifying newly acquired F-15Ds to replace the NASA F-15Bs. ATP also operates flight simulators for pilot training and


16 NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, “Airspace Systems Program,” available at

17 NASA, NASA FY2012 Budget Estimates for Aeronautics Research, available at

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