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Artist illustration of the GE and magniX aircraft in flight in blue skies with white clouds.
A small, black drone with multiple helicopter-like blades hovers over some trees during a bright, partly cloudy day in Virginia.

Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

NASA’s origins trace back to 1915 with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which soon established its people and facilities as the world’s leading 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 are managed by the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD).

Learn More About Aeronautics Research at NASA about Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

A Gateway to Aviation Transformation

imaginAviation 2024 was held Feb. 27-29. While it may be over, you can relive the fun and learning by viewing all sessions on demand.

Watch the videos here about A Gateway to Aviation Transformation
Artist illustration showing a city below and a cloudy sky above, lit by a sun at the center.

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.

Artist illustration of the X-59 in flight over water and land.

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.

Artist illustration of an unmanned passenger aircraft preparing to land on the vertiport.

Advanced Air Mobility

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.

Artist illustration of an aerial view of the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing in flight above a forest of green trees.

Ultra-Efficient Airliners

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. 

Artist illustration of an urban air mobility environment with various unmanned aircraft within a city.

Future Airspace and Safety

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.

Our Strategy

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.

Read the Plan about Our Strategy
NASA Aeronautics Strategic Implementation Plan cover image.

ARMD Programs

NASA’s aeronautical research is organized into four major programs. Learn about them here.

Advanced Air Vehicles Program graphic showing various aircraft in flight against a cloud streaked blue sky with the letters AAVP ghosted in the background. There are also two small images on the bottom right of a composite material and a wind tunnel image.

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 graphic of an artist rendering  showing futuristic touch screen monitor with a young female airspace control operator touching the vehicle health option.

Airspace Operations and Safety Program

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 graphic showing an image of the back of an airplane heading towards the sun with blades of green grass at the bottom and the words Integrated Aviation Systems Program on the middle right.

Integrated Aviation Systems Program

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.

Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program graphic of an artist illustration of a large glowing lightbulb on the right against a dark brown background. Above the lightbulb is a tablet showing an airplane concept flying out of it and behind it swirly lines. The text Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program is off to the middle left of the image.

Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program

Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP) cultivates concepts and capabilities that inspire new solution paths, enable innovative design, and lead to technologies that transform aviation.

Aerosciences Evaluation and Test Capabilities

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.

Learn More About the AETC Portfolio
A scale model of truss-braced wing aircraft is suspended within a wind tunnel for testing.
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.

Quesst Mission

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.

Learn More About the Quesst Mission about Quesst Mission
Artist illustration of the X-59 in flight over land against bright blue skies.

Advanced Air Mobility Mission

NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) mission seeks to transform our communities by bringing the movement of people and goods off the ground, on demand, and into the sky. This air transportation system of the future will include low-altitude passenger transport, cargo delivery, and public service capabilities.

Learn More About the AAM Mission about Advanced Air Mobility Mission
Advanced Air Mobility, with its many vehicle concepts and potential uses in both local and intraregional applications, is shown

Office of the Associate Administrator for Aeronautics

Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Leadership Team

Bob Pearce wearing a tan suite and a colorful checkered tie.

Robert Pearce

Associate Administrator (AA)

Carol Carrol wearing a dark suit and white top. The U.S. flag behind her against a blue background.

Carol Carroll

Deputy AA

Jon Montgomery, wearing a suit and a yellow tie.

Jon Montgomery

Deputy AA for Policy

Barbara Esker wearing a dark suit with a red top in front of a gradient gray background.

Barbara Esker

Deputy AA for Programs

ARMD AA Awards

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.

FY 2023 AA Award Honorees Announced about ARMD AA Awards
Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate AA Awards certificate showing a young child wearing homemade wings running along a path.

NASA Aeronautics Field Centers

NASA conducts its research and operations at field centers across the United States. Four of those centers have traditionally been home to the agency's aeronautics work. Learn more about them.

2012 Aerial Photograph of Ames

Ames Research Center

Moffet Field, California

Armstrong Flight Research Center’s mission support building with a composite of 16 images of the eclipsed moons overhead

Armstrong Flight Research Center

Edwards, California

Glenn Research Center hangar as viewed from the front

Glenn Research Center

Cleveland, Ohio

This is an aerial photo of NASA Langley Research Center. Wind tunnels and the hangar can be seen in the photo.

Langley Research Center

Hampton, Virginia

Three commercial jets taxiing on the runway.
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.
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Why should I care?

You may not have 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
• $77.3 billion positive manufacturing trade balance in 2022
• 2.2 million aerospace/defense jobs; 602,000 in aeronautics/aircraft in 2022

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!

Learn More about Aeronautics Innovation Challenges about Aeronautics Innovation Challenge
View within the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s F/A-18 research aircraft cockpit, while in flight.

Other Aeronautics topics

Artist illustration of the X-59 in flight over a surbuban neighborhood.

Research about flying faster than the speed of sound.

Aerospace Cognitive Engineering Lab Rapid Automation Test Environment; (ACEL-RATE) in N262 showing out-the-window views of San Francisco for UAM UTM Ride Quality Simulation project.

Stories about pioneering the frontiers of 21st century flight.

The Moog SureFly aircraft hovers above Cincinnati Municipal Airport during an acoustic hover test.

All about new ways to get from here to there in the air.

In this image, captured using data from a wind-tunnel test, the red and orange areas represent higher drag, and the green and bl

Learn about research to make aviation more sustainable.

Airplane outside it's gate at the airport.

Read about how NASA is opening up the sky for all.