Click for next page ( 4


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 3
NASA'S ROLES AND CONCERNS Alan M. Lovelace Deputy Administrator National Aeronautics and Space Administration I would like to share some views and perceptions on where we are domestically, where we are in the military, civil aeronautics activity as viewed from NASA, where we are on the international scene, and finally a few remarks on the legislative environment around us. Then, finally, at the risk of some repetition, pose some of the questions that are on our minds. The current U.S. aeronautical research and development environment seems to have in it a number of positive and some negative factors, as viewed in the time frame of this meeting. Surely, advances in computer technology have dramatically shortened the time required for design and design optimization. It is such that we can now evaluate quickly and economically large numbers of design options featuring new technological advances and pick the best combinations, then move into equally efficient computerized detailed design and production processes. These are clearly advances in our business, many of which are of relatively recent origin. This improved analytical capability enables us to reduce the number of design variations so that experimental testing can be limited to the key problem areas identified. New materials and fabrication processes have made it possible to take advantage of many attractive aerodynamic and structural concepts that were not practically possible as recently as l0 years ago. There is no question in my mind that our U.S. industry still leads the world in its ability to apply new technology to attractive designs and the matching of those designs to the market needs. They are able to convert these designs quickly and efficiently into top-quality, highly reliable products, and to back up these sales with first-rate product support. Clearly, one area of management technology that we still, I think, lead in in the United States is the management of large, complex systems. The alacrity of the U.S. industry decision

OCR for page 3
process Ln arriving at optimizations that match the market requirements represents a substantial advantage. There are some negatives, however, that should be pointed out. If one looks at our U.S. aeronautical industry vis-a-vis particularly the Europeans, it is fair to say that after World War II we had essentially led in all areas and that that lead Ls rapidly shrinking today. The cost and complexity of developing new aeronautical systems have virtually skyrocketed. There have been increases in the severity of environmental and safety requirements imposed upon lesigns which have, in turn, led to additional development cost burdens and have created additional needs for proven technology. The development cost and risk questions that face our industry, coupled with warranty requirements, questions of product liability, and customer conservatism, make it extremely difficult, if not in some cases impossible, to incorporate unproven, new technology no matter how attractive the technical benefits may appear. This has been coupled, in many cases, with a need for coproduction agreements and international understandings in order for our industry to compete effectively in foreign markets. It has also led to concerns regarding such questions as technology transfer from the United States to many of our foreign commercial competitors. Let me make a few remarks regarding the civil-military aeronautical requirements. I think it is certainly true that the military business bolsters most of our commercial manufacturers in terms of core staffs, facilities, financial stability, and independent research and development support and contributes substantially to the overall know-how that resides Ln our industries as well as Ln our universities. Basic technologies and even hardware are siuilar in many areas and apparently Ln many areas are nearly identical. Nevertheless, the military requirements are often more demanding and provide effective drivers for technological advancement. The military aircraft tanker and the utility aircraft can provide, in some cases, additional markets for modified commercial products. It would seem in the near term that the budgets for military research and development may see some growth. The question of course remains as to where those investments will be made. The requirements in terms of operational forces are very large and even though many of the budgets of the Department of Defense (DOD) departments in aeronautics will grow, there remains the question of growth in the research and development portions of those budgets. On the negative side, the military programs face the same obstacles to incorporation of new technology as the civil systems in terms of cost and inability to accept the risk of finding themselves dependent on unproven aerospace or aeronautical advances. As a consequence, they must focus as best they can on their military requirements with generally near-tern and proven technology. Long lead times and budget pressures have, in many areas, almost eliminated experimental aircraft from many of the military programs. This concern has in the past driven NASA and the DOD to engage in experimental aircraft development where it was required by the nature of the technologies in question.

OCR for page 3
The civil aircraft requirements, even where missions are superfi- cially similar to the military, are often very different and require different technological development and emphasis. For example, civil usage entails vastly greater numbers of annual and total flight hours on their systems, whereas in the military case the economy and mission performance are important, but primary emphasis must be placed on the performance aspects and then on the economies of performance for those systems- Military priorities, of necessity, must favor their combat missions and, thus, developments of transport types in recent years have been extremely rare in the research and development programs of the military and have not, in the recent past, presented the opportu- nity for try-out of commercially applicable new technologies. Let me turn to the international situation. Our allies have become much stronger in the past l0 years and have the technical know-how, the production capability, and the desire to participate as full partners in mutual defense, including development and production of military aeronautical systems. They have experienced great economic growth, which has not only provided the ability to support their military systems, but has also created civil transportation demands and corresponding domestic commercial markets for their aircraft industries. The Europeans have achieved these gains in part by pooling resources and by developing partnerships in technology, development, and production. They have worked cooperatively with many American companies on major production programs, sharing investments, strengthening access to markets, and, in some instances, even providing production economies. A somewhat newer and growing factor to be considered from the international scene is the matter of utilizing aeronautical technology and development as a trading stock. Many nations are emerging today that want to achieve a level of technological independence, not the least of which is China. They are looking not just to the United States, but to many other countries to help piggy-back their growth. Some countries are catching up with the state of aeronautical research and development in the United States. All of these factors have tended to make them very formidable competitors in the world market. In most instances strong government support is provided in various forms ranging from the support of research and development down to what must be concluded as being direct subsidy of their industries and of their research establishments. In some countries aeronautical industry employment is maintained simply as a national policy and the consequences of that, I think, are clear to each of us. In other areas, strong ties are maintained with emerging nations, including former colonies, and some of these Third World countries may in fact represent significant future markets. The technology edge that we speak of is meaningful, I believe, only when that technology is applied to a product- If obstacles to technological application or innovation in the United States are real and cannot be overcome, then technology cannot be used effectively by the U.S. industry to offset nontechnical advantages of their foreign competitors.

OCR for page 3
Let me just remind you of some of the legislative activities that impinge upon the deliberations of this group. The final returns on deregulation are not all in, but it seems so far to have stimulated competition, putting a premium on cost reduction and creating additional markets for new classes of aircraft such as the computer aircraft market. Deregulation has also permitted the airlines, in some cases, to abandon unprofitable operations. I think it is debatable whether noise regulations will stimulate demand for a new aircraft, but clearly they are a factor to be calculated into the overall domestic situation. New technological needs associated with deregulation, increased cost competition, and meeting noise rules will add more cost and risk to new developments; in fact, they may eliminate channels for some of the resale of used aircraft that formerly helped in providing partial financing for new equipment. Tax incentives, the relaxation of antitrust laws to permit U.S. domestic consortiums, and other steps are being discussed as possible measures that may help industry defray development costs and apply new technology to counter foreign competition. It is not yet possible to assess the effectiveness or the final outcome of these measures. Given that there is a role that NASA should play, I think there are a number of questions that are clearly before all of us. Should we be just the custodian of a collection of national facilities? I am referring to the wind tunnels and simulators and some of the very expensive capabilities in which the United States chose to invest and which reside for the most part under the custody of NASA. Should we limit that role to the conduct and support of only the very basic research and technology in the aero-related sciences and, in effect, step back from the interface with the more applied, risk-reduction activities that must go on in the DOD. Should we limit that activity to those technologies that are specific and generic to the civil requirements as viewed for the near future? If it is not an artificial question—and for me in some areas it becomes difficult to distinguish because of the generic nature of the technologies between military and civilian—should we, in fact, include such similar basic technologies as they are of interest to the DOD? Should we include the applied technology programs? How far should a NASA program go toward risk reduction and meeting the needs of the various industries, both general aviation and commercial and military aviation in the United States? Or, should we in fact draw the NASA wagons in a much tighter circle around the much more basic and applied programs that I think have, in many peoples' minds, characterized the NACA aeronautics program? Should there be cost-sharing with industry and/or cost-sharing with other departments in the federal government, such as the DOD or the FAA? In cost-sharing there is a collateral question: should there be cost recoupment? This is an issue that has been debated and about which I sense there is not a consensus yet between industry and government circles regarding what role the government should play vis-a-vis the industry in risk reduction and recoupment of the cost for those investments?

OCR for page 3
Finally, I would bring up one other question, that is, the role of NASA in aeronautical research and development in the international scene. How much and what kinds of cooperation should NASA engage in with other countries and with other institutions in those countries? Since that can be viewed as a double-edged sword, there are much largar policy issues that are not the province either of NASA or of this conference relative to national foreign policy. There is, how- ever, a set of issues that clearly falls within the purview of this group. Given that there is going to be a greater and probably more complex interrelationship between the institutions in the United States and those that exist in the other advancing and advanced na- tions, what should NASA's role be at that interface?

OCR for page 3