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Keith Henry
Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA
(Phone: 757/864-6120/6124)

RELEASE NO. 98-077

NASA Internet Visitors Ready For Future Single-Pilot Airplane

Respondents to a NASA on-line questionnaire say -- when the technology is in place -- they would be interested in making business or pleasure trips in an advanced light aircraft.

The Internet site has been visited by thousands of people since it was announced at the beginning of the summer, including more than 500 who have responded to a series of questions that may influence the future of personal air transportation.

Developers of the site are hoping that everyone visits the site and completes the 10-minute survey. The effort is managed by the NASA General Aviation Program Office, NASA Langley Research Center, Va., and is part of a nation-wide program to revitalize the U.S. light plane industry. The questions focus on each individual's travel needs and expectations.

"Design engineers and officials in both the private sector and the public sector want to hear from you, the travel customer, so they can design a new advanced air transportation system with the quality and value you expect," said program office director, Bruce Holmes. "By completing this survey, your voice becomes important in determining the standards for personal air travel of the future."

Survey data collected to date reveal that:

  • Over 95 percent of all respondents are interested in traveling in an advanced light aircraft.
  • Over 93 percent of the non-pilots say that if an advanced light aircraft were developed, they would consider getting a pilot's license in order to use it.
  • Over 70% of the respondents say that the practical aspects of flying, such as the ability to get themselves and others where they want to go quickly and on their own schedule are important to them.
  • One-third of the respondents say that more than 25% of their travel destinations are not served by commercial airlines.
  • Over 92 percent of the respondents say they travel by automobile more than two hours travel time but less than 1000 miles at least six times per year, and 35 percent say they take this type of trip more than 12 times per year.
  • Thirty-three percent of the respondents say they would take more than 10 additional trips per year of more than two hours and less than 1000 miles if the trips were three times faster than by automobile and cheaper than by commercial airliner.
  • A majority of respondents have at least a Bachelors degree.
  • Nearly half (45%) claim science/engineering as their occupation.
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents are male, with 10 percent being female.
In addition to the survey, the site highlights future concepts for personal airplanes that promise to deliver affordable, safe and pilot-friendly transportation.

The site and the survey, created to explore the future role of aviation in personal transportation systems, are an outgrowth of two major government-industry partnerships. The partnerships were established to develop the technologies needed for an affordable personal air system and to define the operating requirements.

The first partnership, the Advanced General Aviation Transport Experiments (AGATE), is a consortium of NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and more than 70 leading U.S. aviation companies, universities and non-profit organizations. The second, the General Aviation Propulsion (GAP) program, is a NASA-FAA-industry cooperative effort led by NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio. During the next two to three years, these partnerships are completing the avionics, engine and airframe technologies for a new generation of personal transportation aircraft.

Compared to the automobile, a single-pilot, four-seat airplane of the future equipped with AGATE-GAP technology is expected to be as easy to fly, cost no more than a luxury automobile and safely and dramatically extend the range of daily personal travel. These aircraft would fill the niche between travel by airlines to about 500 larger airports and travel by automobile, and would provide access for more of the population to the infrastructure of more than 5,000 small airports that serve rural, remote and suburban communities in the nation.

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AGATE Animation is available from NASA Langley!

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text-only version of this release