August 2, 1997
Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
NASA Langley Research Center
NASA Lewis Research Center
FAA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
LANGLEY RELEASE NO. 97-095
LIGHT PLANE TECHNOLOGIES ADVANCE ON BROAD FRONT
Three years after the government and the U.S. light plane
industry made a pact to revitalize general aviation in this
country, leaders of the Advanced General Aviation Transport
Alliance are reporting impressive progress. AGATE partners are
working to make airplanes as easy to use as cars.
"These advances were made possible by direct investments in new
technologies for general aviation and by indirect investments in
for 'free flight' and aviation safety," said Dr. Robert Whitehead,
NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics.
"The technology programs that these investments fund support
NASA's vision for a small aircraft transportation system that
brings safe, affordable and convenient personal air transportation
to far more of America's population," he added.
Whitehead's comments were made at a joint NASA, FAA and U.S.
industry news briefing held today at the Experimental Aircraft
Association (EAA) annual Fly-In and Convention, Oshkosh, WI. Other
briefing participants included Guy Gardner, FAA associate
administrator for regulation and certification.
The following AGATE program highlights were addressed:
AGATE FORMS PILOT TRAINING CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT TEAM
The Federal Aviation Administration has selected a team led by
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University to develop a revolutionary
training curriculum that could cut the cost of obtaining an
instrument rating for non-pilots by as much as 25 percent. The team
will also develop learning modules for glass cockpit multi-function
displays and single-lever power control systems.
In the next few years, these products will be integrated into
training methods for the complete AGATE glass cockpit. The products
will be of value in preparing pilots for the FAA's planned Flight
2000 "free flight" demonstration in Hawaii and Alaska aimed at
giving pilots more freedom to determine their own routing.
Project cost will be evenly split between government and
industry. NASA is funding the government's $1.5 million share the
first year, while the FAA plans to fund the government's share the
remaining years of the effort.
Team members include Advanced Creations, Inc., Dayton, OH;
Cessna Aircraft Company, Wichita, KS; Florida Institute of
Technology, Melbourne, FL; Jeppesen Sanderson, Englewood, CO; and
Ratheon Aircraft, KS. Agreements are being negotiated with other
SINGLE LEVER POWER CONTROL DEMONSTRATED IN FLIGHT
Single lever power control (SLPC) works much like the
accelerator pedal in an automobile, by taking the complex system of
control levers and gauges and replacing them with a single lever
and single display.
The first successfully flown electronic single lever power
control for air-cooled engines was onboard Aurora Flight Sciences'
modified Cessna 02-A. Aurora's device took the three standard
engine control levers - throttle, fuel-air mixture and propeller
pitch angle - and had them performed by a computer referred to as a
single channel full authority digital engine control (FADEC).
Aurora Flight Sciences, Manassas, VA, developed their power
controller under NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program.
NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio is managing the
effort to develop guidelines, standards and certification methods
for engine controls and diagnostics.
Cessna Aircraft will soon be flight testing their modified
Cessna 182 RG with a mechanical single lever power control
connecting the throttle with the propeller. A dual channel engine
control is used to control the electronic ignition and fuel
injection. This technology is being developed by the ten industry
members of the Propulsion Sensors and Controls Work Package of
Advantages of SLPC systems include increased engine performance
and fuel efficiency while substantially reducing pilot
ALL OCCUPANTS SURVIVE CRASH TEST
A NASA Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)
contractor successfully crash-tested a small airplane designed to
protect occupants against fatal injuries using airbags and
energy-absorbing composite structures.
Terry Engineering, Wichita, KS -- along with Cirrus Design
Corp., Duluth, MN, and NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA --
has crash tested a total of four airplanes over a two-year period.
The tests typically took place at about 60 mph impact speed into
both earth and hard surfaces. The tests also successfully
demonstrated an improved shoulder harness system and
Goal of the program was to apply the techniques which have been
successfully applied in military helicopters, race cars and modern
automobiles to improve the survivability in crashes of small
composite airplanes. A further goal was to reduce injury severity
in survivable crashes.
The program used a combination of analysis, subscale
quasi-static testing and full scale crash testing to achieve these
goals. In the final crash test, all of the crash dummies on board
"survived" the crash, a first for general aviation crash tests.
NON-PROFIT CORPORATION FORMED TO HANDLE AGATE
John F. Sheehan, President of Business Development Systems,
Inc., has been named as executive director of the newly established
AGATE Alliance Association, Inc. (AAAI).
AAAI is a non-profit organization, established by the industry
members of the Advanced General Aviation Transport Experiments
(AGATE) Alliance as a means for conducting administrative and
managerial business. The organization was created by the AGATE
Executive Council and located in Hampton, VA, to provide the AGATE
Alliance with greater flexibility. AAAI also maintains the AGATE
website at http://agate.larc.nasa.gov.
AFFORDABLE DATALINK RADIO DEMONSTRATED
An AGATE Alliance member company has successfully demonstrated a
digital datalink radio using affordable technologies for retrofit
as well as future general aviation aircraft.
The high bandwidth software-based digital radio, developed by
NavRadio Corp., Denver, CO, has the potential for quickly
communicating weather, clearance, flight planning, maintenance and
other data. It has enough capacity to bring national and regional
aviation weather graphics into the cockpit of general aviation
airplanes for display on computer screens. Datalink radios may help
to reduce weather-related general aviation accidents, the leading
cause of light plane fatalities today.
Datalink radio technology is expected to be available
commercially within the next 24 months. The technology is expected
to play a key role in enabling the FAA's "free flight" concept for
greater flexibility in user-preferred flight routings.
NEW PROPELLER INNOVATION IS QUIET, LIGHT AND EFFICIENT
A propeller made of space-age composite materials is being
hailed as the first major improvement in fixed-pitch propellers for
light planes since the 1930's. The propeller, an advanced
"quasi-constant speed" propeller, permits a fixed-pitch propeller
to perform like a variable-pitch propeller but without the
complexity of a variable-pitch propeller.
As part of its work in the AGATE Integrated Design &
Manufacturing Work Package, Global Aircraft, Starkville, MS, took
advantage of modern aerodynamic technology and advanced composite
structural processes to design and develop a composite
quasi-constant speed propeller suitable for a typical 150-180 hp
general aviation engine.
The propeller will automatically change pitch by flexure of the
propeller blade rather than mechanical rotation of the blade shank.
This technology makes it possible to develop a propeller that is
both more efficient and quieter than current metal propellers.
Production of the propeller is anticipated to begin in
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