industrial sector, government-industry partnerships for the development and implementation of a long-term strategy are essential (NRC, 1994).
Efforts have been under way within the federal government to address the concerns of these two NRC reports that discuss the competitiveness of the nation's aeronautics research and development (R&D) enterprise. In 1995 the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) released a report that acknowledged the need for action to ensure that the United States maintains a strong and competitive aeronautics industry. Three goals were identified that could be accomplished through a government, industry, and university partnership in aeronautics research and technology development (NSTC, 1995):
maintain the superiority of U.S. aircraft and engines1
improve the safety, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of the global air transportation system
ensure the long-term environmental compatibility of the aviation system
Within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is chartered by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 in part to "preserve the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautical science and technology and the application thereof," the Office of Aeronautics has developed a strategic plan for 1995 to 2000 (NASA, 1995) that follows many of the programmatic recommendations in Aeronautical Technologies for the Twenty-First Century (NRC, 1992) and supports the goals outlined by the NSTC. This plan even includes an attempt to characterize aviation in 2020 and lists several types of aerospace systems and technologies that will likely be in use. However, this is only a preliminary vision based on the judgment of NASA aeronautical experts and the extrapolition of current trends in aviation and aeronautics.
Recognizing that a long-term strategic plan for aeronautics requires a broad-based national perspective that includes the needs of users and consumers, the NASA Office of Aeronautics asked the NRC to conduct a workshop that would bring together experts from industry, government, and academia to analyze a number of possible scenarios for aeronautics 15 to 25 years hence. A steering committee was formed under the auspices of the ASEB to plan, organize, and conduct the workshop and report on its conclusions. However, the pre-workshop assignment to develop future
For the purposes of this study, the steering committee rephrased this goal as "maintain the superiority of U.S. aeronautics products and services." The steering committee believes that this appropriately broadens the goal to include subsystems of aircraft and engines, manufacturing processes related to the production of aircraft and engines, and research and engineering services related to aeronautics.