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Straight from the Director

Glenn Poised to Help Meet Aeronautics Research Goals

Glenn Center Director sitting at table with NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. C-2006-810. Credit: NASA/Marvin Smith (RSIS)
Image above: Dr. Whitlow works closely with NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Dr. Lisa Porter. Credit: NASA/Marvin Smith

The nation's first aeronautics research and development policy, established through an Executive Order in December 2006, recognizes that throughout history the U.S. Government has played a leading role in advancing the fundamental scientific principals and technologies on which modern aviation is built.

The National Aeronautics Research and Development (R&D) Policy defines the principles upon which Federal Government aeronautics R&D will be based and the policy goals, objectives and general guidelines that will drive Federal Government aeronautics research activities through 2020.

The policy outlines specific roles of the Federal Government in aeronautics R&D. Specifically, the policy states that NASA "should maintain a broad range fundamental research effort aimed at preserving the intellectual stewardship and mastery of aeronautics core competencies so that the nation's world-class aeronautics expertise is retained. These core competencies also include key aeronautical capabilities that support NASA's human and robotic space activities."

The policy further states that NASA should conduct research in key areas related to the development of advanced aircraft technologies and systems that support the Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, the Joint Planning and Development Office and other executive departments and agencies.

NASA Glenn's Role

Our center is poised to help the nation meet the goals of this policy. Over the last 50 years, we have been recognized as a leader in air-breathing propulsion research. Building on this reputation, we continue to use our world-class staff and facilities, and work with other NASA centers, to ensure the success of the NASA Aeronautics programs and to enable the nation to meet aeronautics challenges. Air-breathing engines in the future will have to be safer, more fuel-efficient, higher-performing and more environmentally friendly. With our expertise in advancing engine aerodynamics, high-temperature structures and materials, and instrumentation and controls, we are critical to the long-term success of the policy's goals and objectives.

Some of our most recent successes under the new NASA Aeronautics programs include testing a scale model geared turbofan in our 9-foot by 15-foot Low-Speed Wind Tunnel simulated flight environment to verify the turbofan's aerodynamic performance, acoustic noise levels and mechanical and structural response characteristics. The propulsion simulator model is an exact scale replica of the current design under development for a new ultra high-bypass engine cycle to power the next generation of 737-type aircraft.

We have conducted successful tests of alternative fuels for jet engines. Researchers in the Structures and Materials Division developed a reliable and efficient technique to accurately measure the adhesion of coatings to engine materials. In addition, a condensed version of lectures and presentations by our staff on pressure-sensitive paint measurement will be used by the Aerospace Engineering Department of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as course material.

Our research leadership is evidenced through several recent recognitions of staff members by professional organizations such as the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers, the Joint Army/Navy/NASA/Air Force Interagency Propulsion Committee and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

While we have an outstanding record of leadership in aeronautics R&D, we must not rest on our laurels. The National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy reminds us that we have an obligation to this nation in advancing scientific knowledge and technologies for the betterment of humankind. Using the nation's best aeronautics minds to help shape and support this new policy is not just the smart thing to do. It is the right thing to do.

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