WASHINGTON - For the second year in a row, NASA is part of a team chosen to receive one of the most prestigious awards in aviation.
On May 28, the National Aeronautics Association will present the 2008 Robert J. Collier Trophy to the Commercial Aviation Safety Team, or CAST, a unique industry and government partnership that was established in 1997 with the goal of reducing the U.S. commercial aviation fatal accident rate by 80 percent in 10 years.
The 2008 winner, CAST, represents thousands of people in public agencies and private industry "who have worked diligently since 1997 to produce the safest commercial aviation system in the world," according to the Collier Trophy award nomination submitted by the Air Transport Association.
The nomination notes the partnership's original goal "was deemed as quite a stretch" if not impossible to achieve. However, the nomination points out, "The year 2008 topped the previous year as the safest year in commercial aviation history and the CAST team is proud to report the risk in fatal commercial accidents has reduced by 83 percent."
NASA's Aviation Safety Program has been a part of CAST since the team was established. Executive Committee membership includes the director of the Aviation Safety Program in NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
"I'm very pleased that the Commercial Aviation Safety Team has been selected for this year's Collier Trophy," said the current Aviation Safety Program director, Amy Pritchett. "NASA's Aviation Safety Program has been instrumental in CAST over its lifetime."
Researchers at four NASA field installations have worked with CAST, including Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.; Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.; and Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
CAST has analyzed data from some 500 accidents and thousands of safety incidents around the world. The idea was to use that information to come up with the most critical safety technologies, systems and procedures to reduce accident risk and ultimately save lives.
NASA funded research and development of analytical tools and data mining capability, which were incorporated into the Federal Aviation Administration's safety monitoring system. NASA aligns its project activities with CAST's key goals and safety interests, such as runway incursions and aircraft icing, according to George Finelli, who managed NASA's Aviation Safety Program from 2002 to 2006 and now heads the Center Operations Directorate at NASA Langley.
"I think it's wonderful that the National Aeronautics Association has recognized the CAST's efforts," added Finelli. "One of the things that made the team unique is that member organizations, including airlines, pilots and manufacturers, were volunteering to change what they did, instead of having to follow a mandate."
The person responsible for involving NASA in the Commercial Aviation Safety Team was Mike Lewis, the agency's first Aviation Safety Program manager. NASA's program was created in 1997 in response to a report from the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. Lewis, who now works in industry, saw NASA as a natural for CAST "because our program was also data driven and we wanted to make sure our research and technology development priorities were in line with those of other government agencies and industry."
The Commercial Aviation Safety Team includes NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Department of Defense, the European Aviation Safety Authority, the Transport Canada Civil Aviation, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Allied Pilots Association, the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the Aerospace Industries Association of America Inc., the Air Transport Association of America Inc., the Regional Airline Association, Airbus, The Boeing Company, GE Aviation (representing all engine manufacturers), and the Flight Safety Foundation.
The National Aeronautics Association awarded the 2007 Collier Trophy to a team that included NASA's Langley and Ames research centers for their work on Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, a system that allows aircraft to be tracked by satellite rather than radar.
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