Hill told aeronautics needs multi-billion dollar cash boost

NASA's budget for aeronautics research should be increased by an average of almost $860 million a year for the next five years, recommends a report prepared for Congress by a team drawn from US industry and academia.

The $200 million cut in NASA's fiscal year 2006 aeronautics budget must be restored, the report says, and spending returned to 1998 levels to counter increased European spending on aviation research. The five-year aeronautics research plan was developed under the leadership of the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA).

The plan was drawn up by a national strategy team taken equal­ly from industry and acad­emia, and with no NASA involvement, says team chairman Bob Kreiger, president of Boeing's Phantom Works research division.

Seven sector teams composed of more than 250 experts drew up detailed research plans and budgets in the areas of airspace systems, aviation safety and security, hypersonics, supersonics, subsonics, rotocraft, and workforce and education.

Building on NASA's FY05 aero­nautics budget, the report lays out a five-year plan "with hundreds of demonstration miles" to mature high-risk technologies to a level of readiness sufficient that industry will be comfortable enough to consider using them, says Kreiger.

The sector teams worked independently, and the national strategy team "racked and stacked" the projects to stay within the NIA's budget plan.

The hypersonics plan, for example, proposes the first of three flight demonstrators under a spiral development approach that would transfer technology for commercial development every five to seven years over a 15- to 20-year programme.

The resulting plan has "amazing similarity", Kreiger says, to the strategic research agenda (SRA-2) drawn up by ACARE, the European Commission's aeronautics research advisory committee. Guided by the EC's Vision 2020 plan for civil aviation, SRA-2 calls for €165 billion ($213 billion) research spending one-third public over the next 20 years. Based on SRA-2, the EC is expected to provide at least €2.5 billion for aeronautics research under its 2007-13 Seventh Framework Programme.



Source: Flight International