NASA has selected four US states as "laboratories" for its Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) research programme. Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia will host demonstrations of the SATS concept of using small aircraft for on-demand air transport between the many underused US general-aviation airports.

The agency plans to conduct proof-of-concept experiments in 2003, leading to showcase demonstrations of the SATS technologies in 2005. "SATSLabs", formed by the states and part-funded by NASA, will host the events.

SATS is a five-year effort to demonstrate technology, enabling small aircraft to use virtually any small airport in most weather conditions. NASA's long-term vision is to create a new mode of transport that will relieve pressure on the USA's congested interstate highways and major airports.

The programme will be implemented as a cost-sharing partnership between government and a consortium formed by industry and other interested parties, including the SATSLabs. Earlier this month NASA solicited bids for a consortium manager, and plans to sign a joint sponsored research agreement by September. The non-profit consortium is to become operational early next year.

Source: Flight International