To support development of the next-generation air transport system (NextGen), NASA is seeking detailed performance descriptions for advanced vehicles that could be operating in US airspace by 2025. An 18-month, $6 million study into integration of advanced concepts and vehicles into NextGen should start in the first quarter of 2008.

Vehicles expected to be described include very light jets, very large transports, unnmanned air vehicles, supersonic transports, rotorcraft, vertical/short take-off and landing aircraft, other unconventional designs and space launch vehicles.

Attributes to be outlined are the vehicles' operational envelopes sensitivity to weather, such as turbulence and icing manoeuvre limitations runway requirements including climb and descent limitations performance and fuel efficiency sensitivity to altitude and other factors and environmental impacts from noise and emissions.

"We want to look at how advanced aircraft would operate and describe how they will operate," says NASA's solicitation. The agency is looking for answers to "a whole range of questions on how that vehicle would operate in the new system" including "what kind of flight trajectories, what kind of safety assurance, what kind of terminal operations", says airspace systems programme director Karlin Toner.

Source: Flight International