From NASA, New Plans For Aviation Research

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NASA is generally associated with space exploration, but the first "A" in NASA is for "Aeronautics," and last week Administrator Charles Bolden unveiled a new strategic vision for the agency's aeronautical research programs. The new plan will focus on key drivers that are expected to affect aviation over the next two to four decades, Bolden said. Those drivers include significant growth in global demand for air transportation, mounting concerns related to climate and energy, and the emergence of new technologies such as embedded sensors, advanced networking capabilities, and engineered materials. Among the agency's goals are to develop technology for commercial supersonic aircraft, promote a transition to low-carbon fuels, and expand the autonomous capabilities of aircraft.

"Nearly every aircraft flying and air traffic management system now in use includes NASA-supported technologies that improve efficiency and safety," said Bolden. "This new vision will expand on that by fully integrating into aviation advances in other industries and parts of the economy to meet the future demands for global mobility in ways we can only begin to imagine today." Bolden's speech, delivered last week at the annual conference of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics in Los Angeles, is posted online (PDF). The new NASA strategic-vision statement also is posted (PDF). "It's really something of a Renaissance time [for aviation]," Bolden said, "when you look at all the things we're working on and all the potential for breakthroughs that are right in front of us today."