National Academies Press: OpenBook

Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future (2006)

Chapter: G Statement of Task and Work Plan

« Previous: F Lessons Learned from Other Federal Agencies
Suggested Citation:"G Statement of Task and Work Plan." National Research Council. 2006. Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11664.

Statement of Task and Work Plan


An ad hoc steering committee and supporting panels will be formed under the auspices of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board to conduct a study to develop a decadal strategy for federal aeronautics research. The steering committee will provide an overarching roadmap for investment in aeronautics research and technology at NASA. The committee will be supported by five panels, as outlined below.

During the first portion of the study, the steering committee will develop a set of key technical questions, issues, and challenges that federal aeronautics basic and applied research should address over the next 10 years. This broad charge will be the basis for the work of the supporting panels in developing a decadal strategy for national aeronautics. The charge will also identify challenges that will not only have a significant, long-term impact on national aeronautics but that NASA is uniquely suited to address.1

As appropriate, the committee will consider the following when laying out its charge to the panels:

  • Current plans for national aeronautics research.

  • Lessons learned from (1) the requirements process used by the Department of Defense and (2) the innovation-driven process used by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to select, prioritize, plan, and execute its programs.

  • Inputs solicited by the committee from government, academia, industry, and other stakeholders in the air transportation community.

  • Lessons learned from nonaeronautical research by federal agencies (e.g., the National Institutes of Health) that positively affected areas with strong private sector economic interests.

  • The findings of recent studies supported by the federal government and other organizations.

During the second portion of the study, the panels will assess how federal agencies can more effectively answer the key questions, resolve the key issues, and meet the key challenges identified in the first phase. Each panel will be comprised of subject matter experts from the appropriate disciplines and provide the committee with an internal written summary of its results, which will include the following (some topics will not be relevant to the work of all panels):

  • Identification of research necessary to further the state of the art in the specific thrust areas identified by the committee.

  • A single, prioritized list of goals and objectives in each appropriate technical area suitable for guiding the allocation of federal resources available for national aeronautics research during the next 10 years, including development and maintenance of necessary infrastructure (i.e., research, modeling, simulation, and test facilities); necessary testing and flight demonstrations that will demonstrate the scalability of novel concepts and capabilities to real-world implementation; necessary workforce; and resolution of relevant issues related to safety, security, and the environment.

  • Guidance on how federal resources allocated for aeronautics research should be distributed between in-house and out-of-house (academic and industrial) organizations.

  • Guidance on how aeronautics research can take advantage of advances in cross-cutting technology funded by federal agencies and private industry.

  • Guidance regarding how far along the development and technology readiness spectrum federal agencies should advance key aeronautics technologies.


The result of this portion of the study was a set of six strategic objectives (see Chapter 1) and a modified QFD process, including instructions for defining R&T Challenges and criteria for establishing quantitative scores to prioritize the Challenges (see Chapter 2).

Suggested Citation:"G Statement of Task and Work Plan." National Research Council. 2006. Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11664.

Similarly, the panels will consider the following during their work:

  • Worldwide state of the art and state of practice in relevant fields.

  • Interdisciplinary research and cross-cutting technologies.

  • Systems integration.

  • Simulation methods, laboratory and wind tunnel testing, and flight demonstration.

  • Special workforce, education, and training issues related to specific areas of expertise.

  • Operational requirements of the U.S. air transportation industry, the FAA, airports, the Department of Defense, general aviation, and other users of the national airspace.

  • How aeronautics research priorities and endeavors by industry, universities, the Department of Defense (including DARPA), and other government agencies (such as the FAA) should affect aeronautics research by NASA. Areas of particular interest include but are not limited to computational fluid dynamics and turbulence modeling, materials, and networking and information technology.

Based on written internal inputs from the panels, the steering committee will prepare a final report that discusses the framework for current investments and the key issues related to investment in aeronautics R&D, integrates the results of the panels, and provides a set of overall findings and recommendations to provide a cumulative, integrated view of the panel results. The committee will also specifically focus on identifying cross-cutting technologies and broad areas of investment between the various panels’ recommendations and highlight areas of possible revolutionary advancement. Neither the committee nor the panels will make specific budget recommendations.


The study will begin with a joint kick-off meeting between the steering committee and its supporting panels in order to hear directly from NASA and other federal entities the primary purpose of the study. The steering committee of approximately 15 members will develop an overarching set of principles for investment in national aeronautics research and technology and a set of key challenges (technical thrust areas) that will guide the panels’ work. The supporting panels, as overseen by the steering committee, will individually address the key points in the statement of task, meeting approximately three more times. Each panel will provide an examination of the research priorities, possible research plans, and capabilities necessary to undertake the suggested research. Internal working papers and summaries will be provided to the steering committee from the panels outlining their conclusions, findings, and recommendations. The steering committee will prepare a final report that integrates the results of the panels and provides a cumulative, integrated, and prioritized set of overall findings and recommendations.

It is expected that five supporting panels will be formed (see below) composed of approximately 10 members each:

Panel A: Aerodynamics and aeroacoustics

Panel B: Propulsion and power

Panel C: Materials and structures

Panel D: Dynamics, navigation, and control, and avionics

Panel E: Intelligent and autonomous systems, operations and decision making, human integrated systems, and networking and communications

All five panels should address issues related to subsonic, supersonic, and hypersonic flight regimes; infrastructure; transformation of the air transportation system; workforce; and education. As necessary, one or more subgroups of the steering committee will integrate and evaluate the suggestions of the panels in some or all of these areas.

Suggested Citation:"G Statement of Task and Work Plan." National Research Council. 2006. Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11664.
Page 173
Suggested Citation:"G Statement of Task and Work Plan." National Research Council. 2006. Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11664.
Page 174
Next: H Biographies of Committee and Panel Members »
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The U.S. air transportation system is very important for our economic well-being and national security. The nation is also the global leader in civil and military aeronautics, a position that needs to be maintained to help assure a strong future for the domestic and international air transportation system. Strong action is needed, however, to ensure that leadership role continues. To that end, the Congress and NASA requested the NRC to undertake a decadal survey of civil aeronautics research and technology (R&T) priorities that would help NASA fulfill its responsibility to preserve U.S. leadership in aeronautics technology. This report presents a set of strategic objectives for the next decade of R&T. It provides a set of high-priority R&T challenges—-characterized by five common themes—-for both NASA and non-NASA researchers, and an analysis of key barriers that must be overcome to reach the strategic objectives. The report also notes the importance of synergies between civil aeronautics R&T objectives and those of national security.

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