NASA started in 1915 as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and soon established its people and facilities as the world’s top home for aviation research. Today every U.S. commercial aircraft and air traffic control facility incorporates NASA-developed technology. That heritage continues at NASA, where the first “A” stands for Aeronautics and the efforts to safely and sustainably transform aviation for the 21st century is managed by the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD).
NASA Aeronautics – A Vision for Aviation in the 21st Century
NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is working to enable industry to introduce transformative options for future air travel in at least four major areas.
High-Speed Commercial Flight
Quesst is NASA's mission to show the X-59 can fly supersonic without generating loud sonic booms and survey what people hear when it flies overhead. Reaction to the quieter sonic "thumps" will be shared with regulators who will then consider writing new rules to lift the ban on faster-than-sound flight over land.
Advanced Air Mobility is NASA's mission to help emerging aviation markets safely develop an air transportation system that moves people and cargo between places previously not served or underserved by aviation, using revolutionary new aircraft that are only just now becoming possible thanks to converging technologies.
NASA is committed to supporting the U.S. climate goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector by 2050. Under the Sustainable Flight National Partnership, NASA is leading federal agencies and industry to accelerate the development of sustainable technologies.
NASA is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and others to transform air traffic management systems to safely accommodate the growing demand of new air vehicles entering the airspace, enabling them to perform a variety of missions no matter what airspace that mission may require.
This Strategic Implementation Plan sets forth NASA's vision for aeronautical research aimed at the next 25 years and beyond. It encompasses a broad range of technologies to meet future needs of the aviation community, the nation, and the world for safe, efficient, flexible, and environmentally sustainable air transportation.
NASA’s aeronautical research is organized into four major programs. Learn about them here.
Advanced Air Vehicles Program
Advanced Air Vehicles Program (AAVP) studies, evaluates, and develops technologies and capabilities for new aircraft systems, and also explores far-future concepts that hold promise for revolutionary air-travel improvements.
Airspace Operations and Safety Program (AOSP) works with the Federal Aviation Administration, industry, and academic partners to conceive and develop Next Generation Air Transportation System technologies to further improve the safety of current and future aircraft.
Integrated Aviation Systems Program (IASP) conducts flight-oriented, system-level research and technology development to effectively mature and transition advanced aeronautic technologies into future air vehicles and operational systems.
The Aerosciences Evaluation and Test Capabilities portfolio office executes strategic efforts to preserve and enhance research and test capabilities for NASA’s world-class portfolio of National Wind Tunnel facilities.
The Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel seen here at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California is one of many wind tunnels and test facilities managed by the Aerosciences Evaluation and Test Capabilities portfolio office within NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
Interested in flying to your next destination in half the time? NASA's Quesst mission is to lead a government-industry team to collect data that could make commercial supersonic flight over land possible, dramatically reducing air travel time in the United States or anywhere in the world. The centerpiece of the mission is the X-59 aircraft.
The ARMD Associate Administrator (AA) Awards are presented to NASA employees, contractors, and students or interns who distinguish themselves, either individually or as part of a group, through their overall approach to their work and through results they achieved during the award year.
Demand for air travel continues growing, keeping airports busy with arriving, departing, and taxiing airplanes. NASA technology has helped the FAA modernize and improve the flow of traffic across the National Airspace System, making it easier for passengers to get from gate to gate between airports more safely and sustainably than ever before.
Why should I care?
You may not had flown today, but something you needed or used today did. The latest electronic gadget, flowers for a loved one, life-saving medicine, or even fresh seafood for supper — many of your most important needs and wants were delivered to you because of air travel. The importance of aviation to our lives and our economy is undisputed. Ensuring we have the safest, most sustainable, and most advanced aeronautics technology is the goal of our hard-working aeronautical innovators. Here are some facts about aviation’s contributions to the the U.S. economy:
• 8.97 million flights by U.S. carriers worldwide in 2022 • 24 million tons of freight transported by U.S. airlines in 2022 • $1.9 trillion total U.S. economic activity in 2019 • $51.5 billion positive manufacturing trade balance in 2021 • 2.1 million aerospace/defense jobs; 575,000 in aeronautics/aircraft in 2021
With more than a century of aeronautical research heritage to back it up, we’re fond of reminding folks that NASA is with you when you fly. That’s because some piece or form of NASA technology is in use on every U.S. airplane flying today. The images presented here offer just a few examples of how you benefit from NASA when you fly.
Aeronautics Innovation Challenge
NASA’s Aeronautics Innovation Challenges are your entry points to the exciting, fast-moving aviation world of today. And they’re valuable ways for us to get inputs and ideas that may never have occurred to us. Thank you for joining our journey!
Find opportunities to collaborate with NASA’s aeronautical innovators and/or contribute to their research to enable new and improved air transportation systems.
ARMD Strategic Vision
The Strategic Implementation Plan sets forth the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate vision for aeronautical research aimed at the next 25 years and beyond. Read this important document here.
NASA Aeronautics Research Institute
The NASA Aeronautics Research Institute promotes innovation in aeronautics across a broad spectrum of aeronautical challenges in the nation’s air transportation system. Learn about them here.
NASA Advisory Council Aeronautics Committee
The NASA Advisory Council's aeronautics committee advises the agency's leadership on strategic plans, programs, and other matters pertinent to aeronautics research. Public input at meetings is welcome. Read more here.
Aeronautics STEM & Learning Resources
Explore hands-on activities, interactive lesson plans, educator guides, and other downloadable content about aeronautics.
Aeronautics Innovation Challenges
Learn more about NASA Aeronautics sponsored challenges and competitions.
Aeronáutica en español
Conozca los avances tecnológicos desarrollados por la NASA, la industria de la aviación está mejor equipada que nunca para transportar pasajeros y carga de manera segura y eficiente a destinos alrededor del mundo en español.
Past ARMD Projects
Explore links to past ARMD projects. Online content relevant to these past projects is being kept online for historical purposes, but is no longer being updated.
Explore a collection of hand-picked stories that showcase the aviation technology NASA is working on — or has worked on and turned over to others for use in the National Airspace System.
Aeronautics Videos Playlist
Your next bingeworthy series is right here. Enjoy this collection of videos that help tell the story of how NASA Aeronautics is transforming aviation for the 21st century.