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Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Aeronautics: Scenario-Based Strategic Planning for NASA's Aeronautics Enterprise Executive Summary The Office of Aeronautics of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) asked the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a workshop to help guide their strategic planning process. As part of this process, but apart from the NRC effort, a core team of individuals from the NASA Office of Aeronautics, The Futures Group (TFG), and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), developed five long-term global aeronautics scenarios, where long-term was defined as 15 to 25 years hence or beyond the next-generation systems. These scenarios are based primarily on economic, social, and policy issues identified by experts and leaders in the field of aeronautics during interviews conducted by the core team.1 These issues or "drives" were woven into the narratives of each of the five scenarios and were used to determine the general characteristics or "dimensions" of each scenario. The names given to these five scenarios, and their dimensions as defined by U.S. economic competitiveness, worldwide demand for aeronautics products and services, threats to global security and/or quality of life, and the global trend in government participation in society, are summarized in Table ES-1. The workshop was planned and conducted by a steering committee formed under the auspices of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. Workshop participants from aeronautics- and aviation-related organizations in the public and private sectors were asked to accept the generalities of each scenario as provided and to further refine and develop each scenario by (1) considering potential revolutionary and evolutionary technology developments, (2) determining the key needs and opportunities for aeronautics and related technology implications, and (3) discussing the general role that NASA should play in maintaining the future competitiveness of U.S. aeronautics. NEEDS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR AERONAUTICS Five working groups or "world teams" were formed and led by the steering committee to accomplish the task outlined above. Each team focused on one scenario for the majority of the three-day workshop, but an iterative round-robin process was also utilized to determine the applicability of needs and opportunities for 1 Experts and leaders interviewed by members of the core team included members of the ASEB steering committee and many of the workshop participants. The steering committee also participated in the process of defining the dimensions of the scenarios and helped to choose the scenarios that would be considered at the workshop. However, the narratives of the scenarios were developed solely by the core team.
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Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Aeronautics: Scenario-Based Strategic Planning for NASA's Aeronautics Enterprise aeronautics that were developed by other teams for their own world. By this process, needs and opportunities were found that were robust (cross-cutting items that fit within the environment of each future scenario), significant (items that were critically important to three or four scenarios), and noteworthy (items that were novel and were important to two scenarios or less). These needs and opportunities are summarized in Table ES-2. TABLE ES-1 The Five Scenarios and Their Dimensions Scenario U.S. Economic Competitivenessa Worldwide Demand for Aeronautics Products and Servicesb Threats to Global Security and/or Quality of Lifec Global Trend in Government Participation in Societyd Pushing the Envelope Strong High growth Low Low Grounded Strong Low growth High High Regional Tensions Weak High growth High High Trading Places Weak High growth Low Low Environmentally Challenged Weak Low growth High High a The relative U.S. share of internationally traded products and services in the world economy (strong or weak). b The level of demand for aeronautics products and services related to civil; military; and access to space applications in local, regional, and global markets (high growth and low growth). c Direct threats to the health and safety of people, and/or the stability and viability of governments, and their implications for the United States (high or low threat). d The tendency of governments to regulate and/or intervene in key aspects of society and the economy (high or low). SYSTEM LEVEL TECHNOLOGY IMPLICATIONS The steering committee's synthesis of the needs and opportunities discussed at the workshop, and their implications for broad areas of technology development, is provided below. The system level technologies identified do not appear in order of priority and have not been analyzed comprehensively to determine their relative scientific merit or technical feasibility. The simply represent the principal items discussed based on an analysis of the five scenarios and the iterative round-robin process. Further analysis will be needed in order to justify spending scarce research and development (R&D) funds on many of these areas of technology. New Aircraft New markets are likely to demand new types of aircraft, including short-range cargo and passenger aircraft; long-range, high-capacity supersonic aircraft; modular and reconfigurable aircraft; aircraft with autonomous, on-board air traffic control
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Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Aeronautics: Scenario-Based Strategic Planning for NASA's Aeronautics Enterprise capability; aircraft with built-in redundancy and self-inspection to simplify repair and maintenance; and aircraft that utilize smart structures and tailored materials. TABLE ES-2 Robust, Significant, and Noteworthy Needs and Opportunities ROBUST SIGNIFICANT NOTEWORTHY Common to all scenarios Less common but vital to some scenarios Specialized and unique Air Traffic Management satellite-based, autonomous, tailored Access to Space small payloads, low cost, on demand Short-to-Medium Range Aircraft VSTOL, commuter, infrastructure independent, military special operations Airport Infrastructure constrained, austere, tailored Supersonic Aircraft long range, large, and low capacity Stealth Aircraft evade terrorist threats, quiet over populated areas Safety/Survivability significant accident reduction, survive natural and man-made threats Subsonic Aircraft large, small, long and short range General Aviation increased activity, part of a customer-tailored air transportation system Manufacturing agile, virtual, validation, certification Air Cargo large, low-cost, specialized and reconfigurable aircraft Tailored and Smart Materials reduced fuel consumption and enhanced safety Uninhabited Air Vehicles weapons, surveillance, intelligence Microelectro Mechanical Systems reduced fuel consumption and vehicle size Environment noise, emissions, hydrogen fuels Sonic Boom Mitigation enable supersonic flight over populated areas Security Systems airport, aircraft, terrorist threat Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing (VSTOL) Aircraft short, medium, and long range, stealth, infrastructure independent, military special operations Skilled Training and Education distributed and tailored training System Integration in Aircraft Design, Manufacturing, and Operations To maintain its competitive position, the United States will need to foster improved modeling, virtual reality,2 and planning tools for agile and flexible manufacturing. 2 Virtual reality is a computer-based technology that allows the user to interact with data that give the appearance of a three-dimensional environment or world. The user can ''enter" and "navigate" the three-dimensional world portrayed as graphic images and interact with objects in that world as if "inside" that world.
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Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Aeronautics: Scenario-Based Strategic Planning for NASA's Aeronautics Enterprise The integration of avionics and other information systems within aircraft, within the air traffic control system, and within other portions of the air transportation system will need to be undertaken to ensure reliable communications and efficiency of operation. Passenger and Crew Safety and Security Increasing demand for operational safety, combined with public awareness of the threat of terrorism and the growth in the volume of air traffic will require improved aviation weather observation dissemination to end users; decision aids on board aircraft to mitigate human error; improved aircraft system reliability through fault tolerance and artificial intelligence; improved systems within aircraft to detect explosives and contraband; and improved aircraft survivability to weapons, electromagnetic impulses, radio frequency interference, and severe weather phenomena. Improved Operating Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness The United States can improve the cost effectiveness and operating efficiency of both civil and military aviation by pioneering the following capabilities: increased automation of aircraft control and air traffic management, including autonomous operations both in the air and on taxiways; uninhabited air vehicles (UAVs) to be used initially for surveillance and weather observation and eventually for aerial combat and cargo transport; tailored materials (designed at the molecular level) and smart materials (able to sense their own conditions) to increase safety, reduce aircraft weight, and to withstand higher engine temperatures; high-efficiency subsonic propulsion systems that provide improved fuel consumption; and finally, miniaturized electronics, sensors, and other nonstructural mechanical components to reduce weight and enable new aircraft and propulsion system designs. Environmental Protection and Noise Abatement The public will continue to demand reductions in environmental damage and reductions of acoustic noise over urban areas. This will require the United States to collaborate with other nations to develop technology that will reduce or eliminate harmful aircraft engine emissions and technology that will enable quieter engines and operations, including revolutionary means to mitigate sonic boom effects over populated areas.
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Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Aeronautics: Scenario-Based Strategic Planning for NASA's Aeronautics Enterprise Access to Space Earth orbit will continue to provide opportunities for both civilian and military use of satellites for communications, navigation, and surveillance. It is anticipated that commercial firms and other nations will want on-demand access to Earth orbit that is quick and inexpensive. In most cases, sensors and communication devices are likely to be the dominant payloads, and there will be no inherent need for large spacecraft. Therefore, the steering committee has identified a need for systems and associated infrastructures to enable low-cost, on-demand delivery of small payloads with sensors or communications packages to Earth orbit. Potential needs for future manned space activities and space science missions were not discussed by the steering committee or the workshop participants. NASA'S FUTURE ROLE IN MAINTAINING U.S. COMPETITIVENESS IN AERONAUTICS The workshop represented a microcosm of a real partnership between government, industry, and academia that must continue to be fostered to achieve the goals outlined by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and therefore enable a competitive U.S. aeronautics industry in the future. Within this partnership, government must ensure that the conduct of basic and applied research, the development of high-risk technology, the rapid validation of essential design and manufacturing tools and techniques, and the certification of products continue to be focused on these goals. The steering committee believes that within the federal government, coordinated, cost-effective planning and implementation of long-term aeronautics R&D can only be accomplished by using the interagency process to designate a lead agency for this role. The steering committee further believes that NASA would best serve as the lead agency, rather than the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Science Foundation, or the National Institute of Standards and Technology for the following reasons.3 NASA is chartered by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 to "preserve the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautical science and technology and the application thereof." No other federal agency has this legislative mandate. The NASA aeronautics enterprise has inherited its fundamental aeronautics R&D focus from its forerunner, the National Advisory Committee for 3 A session also was held at the workshop to discuss possible options for the future conduct of aeronautics R&D and the proper role of NASA in the future. NASA center directors and members of the NASA/TFG/SAIC core team were excluded from this session. The steering committee's view on NASA's future role in maintaining the superiority of U.S. aeronautics products and services is based, in part, on the deliberations that took place during this session.
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Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Aeronautics: Scenario-Based Strategic Planning for NASA's Aeronautics Enterprise Aeronautics, chartered in 1915. NASA has maintained this focus and has developed and maintained extensive R&D equipment and facilities. Although other federal agencies, such as the DOD and the FAA, also conduct aeronautics R&D and maintain appropriate facilities, this work is carried out in support of their operational missions. In contrast, the mission of NASA's aeronautics enterprise is aeronautics R&D. NASA has been charged by the Office of Management and Budget to develop an integrated national strategy and priorities assessment for civil aeronautics (NASA, 1995). NASA has responded to the goals outlined by the NSTC through its Aeronautics Strategic Enterprise Plan for 1995–2000 (NASA, 1995). This plan includes a preliminary "road map," or strategic plan, for the future of aviation that will be refined as a result of the workshop, this report, and the larger strategic planning process currently under way in the NASA Office of Aeronautics. NASA has several programs currently under way that already involve substantial partnerships between government, industry, and academia. These programs include the Advanced Subsonic Technology (AST) program, the High Speed Research (HSR) program, and the Advanced General Aviation Technology (AGATE) program. The future needs, opportunities, and implications for technology discussed in this report offered no compelling reason for the workshop participants or the steering committee to recommend an alternative to future NASA leadership, although the alternatives mentioned previously were considered. Recommendation. To ensure coordinated, cost-effective planning and implementation of long-term aeronautics research and development within the federal government, the interagency process should be used to designate a lead agency for this role. The steering committee believes that NASA would best serve as the lead agency. Leadership does not imply that NASA will lead every R&D activity that is focused on future aircraft, systems, and technology areas recommended for future development by this report.4 Therefore, an in-depth assessment of the specific programs and long-term R&D activities that NASA should engage in as the lead agency for aeronautics is the next logical step in this current strategic planning process. In addition, the roles of other federal agencies, private sector organizations, and academic institutions that are part of the nation's aeronautics partnership must be carefully considered and defined. The steering committee believes that this next phase of the strategic planning process should again be conducted with broad participation from government, industry, and academia and should proceed without delay. 4 The steering committee envisions that NASA's role in the development of technology would not extend beyond what is referred to by the DOD as 6.3A—Advanced Development.
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Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Aeronautics: Scenario-Based Strategic Planning for NASA's Aeronautics Enterprise REFERENCE NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). 1995. Achieving Aeronautics Leadership: Aeronautics Strategic Enterprise Plan, 1995–2000. Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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