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For release: July 29, 1995

Don Nolan
NASA Headquarters
Phone: 202-358-1983

Mark Chambers
NASA Langley Public Affairs
Phone: 804-864-3728

Keith Henry
NASA Langley Public Affairs
Phone: 804-864-6124
414-235-5424/5438 (at Oshkosh July 27-Aug. 1)

RELEASE NO. 95-070

NASA Forms Partnership To Revitalize General Aviation

Two years of government-industry cooperation has resulted in the formation of a unique partnership to revitalize the U.S. general aviation industry.

The Advanced General Aviation Transport Experiments (AGATE) consortium was formally established in a signing ceremony today at Oshkosh, Wisc. Participating were NASA, the FAA and industry consortium members. Universities and nonprofit organizations also make up AGATE, one of the larger member consortia of any kind in the U.S.

The purpose of AGATE is to enable market growth for inter-city transportation in small aircraft. AGATE members share resources and risks to make the market "pie" bigger for everyone. Members are committed to developing safer aircraft and more efficient flight systems to improve pilot training and operations in and near congested airports.

This joint government-industry effort is the outgrowth of a meeting between NASA administrator Daniel S. Goldin and several industry members at the Experimental Aircraft Association Convention in Oshkosh, Wisc. in 1992, spurred in large part by the Clinton Administration and Congress' commitment to "reinventing government." The consortium operates under a unique Space Act process called the Joint Sponsored Research Agreement (JSRA). Research conducted under a JSRA eliminates many of the burdensome and time-consuming operations of federal acquisition regulations. Early AGATE results have been impressive in this regard.

The consortium represents a new “blueprint” to map out this revitalization, according to Dr. Bruce A. Holmes, AGATE's first director and head of NASA's General Aviation Office at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. Of AGATE, Holmes said, "It offers industry the ability to work together to undertake tasks of higher risk, with higher payoff, faster speed of technology transfer, control of proprietary and shared technologies, reduced costs and more efficient use of research and development resources."

The agreement is a product of several years of investigation and development by the American Technology Initiative, Inc. (AmTech) of Menlo Park, Calif., a NASA-sponsored, public-benefit, non-profit corporation that facilitates public-private research and development collaboration.

Of the more than 60 consortium members, 31 are companies having total annual revenues of more than $25 billion and 250,000 employees. Consortium members' general aviation output generates $5 billion per year and employs 53,000 people. One purpose of AGATE is to increase revenue and create new jobs in manufacturing, sales, training, service, support and operations industries throughout the nation's small airport infrastructure.

General Aviation—defined as all flying except the military services and commercial airlines—has fallen from its economic heights in the late 1970's to record lows due to outdated technologies, regulatory restrictions, liability burdens and increasing costs.

The AGATE program targets technologies for new operating capabilities in small aircraft including improved bad weather flight systems; emergency avoidance systems that support decision-making; night and low visibility terrain-following systems; traffic avoidance systems; and systems that ease the flight-planning workload, minimize the danger of injuries, and improve comfort, performance and efficiency.

NASA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program provides substantial support for the general aviation industry. More than $8 million in contracts have been awarded in 1993 and 1994 to small general aviation companies. Most of these companies have chosen to join the AGATE consortium to leverage their SBIR efforts with other companies.

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