Lori J. Rachul
NASA Lewis Research Center
NASA INITIATES NEW GENERAL AVIATION PROPULSION PROGRAM
CLEVELAND, OH -- NASA has announced a partnership with the FAA and the U.S. aviation industry for a new program that will address the critical need to improve affordability and performance of U.S. light general aviation aircraft propulsion systems.
The General Aviation Propulsion (GAP) program was established to develop technologies and manufacturing processes for revolutionary, low-cost, environmentally- compliant propulsion systems and to flight-demonstrate these propulsion systems on advanced aircraft. The focus is on the light general aviation aircraft which have six seats or less.
"New advanced propulsion systems are the key to tomorrow's affordable, user-friendly general aviation aircraft," said Leo Burkardt, manager of the GAP program at the Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH. "According to a NASA Aeronautics Advisory Committee's General Aviation Task Force Report," Burkardt said," replacing today's outdated light aircraft propulsion systems is perhaps the most important factor in helping to revitalize the light aircraft market.
This four-year, technology development program will be implemented through Cooperative Agreements with U.S. aviation industry. Two cooperative agreements are expected to be issued in October 1996.
NASA's GAP program will consist of two parts: the Intermittent Combustion Engine Element, which will address the reciprocating engines currently used in light aircraft; and the Turbine Engine Element, which will address gas turbines, the type of engines currently used in commercial jet liners.
The Intermittent Combustion Engine element aims at reducing engine prices by one half while substantially improving reliability, maintainability as well as meeting future emission and noise requirements. These engines will be significantly more user friendly, with simpler engine controls, easier starts in cold weather, and reduced cockpit noise and vibration.
Reducing the price of small turbine engines by a factor of 10 is the primary goal of the Turbine Engine element. Today's modern turbine engines are user-friendly and environmentally compliant.
Modern turbine engines' reliability and smoothness contribute to aircraft safety. High acquisition costs (compared to reciprocating engines) have been a major factor hindering their application in the light aircraft market. Designing a simpler engine with fewer parts, automated manufacturing methods and common engine components across a wide spectrum of applications will help to achieve low costs.
In addition, other vital areas such as cockpit and airframe technologies are being developed by the NASA/FAA/Industry Advanced General Aviation Transport Experiments (AGATE) Consortium.
The GAP program in concert with AGATE will promote U.S. economic growth by supporting the revitalization of the general aviation industry.
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