NASA establishes partnership to accelerate aircraft composites

The public-private partnership will work to advance knowledge about composite materials that could improve the performance of future aircraft.

NASA is teaming up with five organizations on a project that will use composite materials to help build the aircraft of the future: an aircraft that will exhibit strength while remaining lightweight.

The agency selected the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) in Hampton, VA, to manage administration of the Advanced Composites Consortium, which is working to improve composite materials research and certification.

The NIA will handle communications within the consortium and help manage the programmatic and financial aspects of members’ research projects, according to a news release. The NIA also will serve as a "tier two" member with a representative on the consortium’s technical oversight committee.

Other members of the consortium include NASA's Advanced Composites Project, managed from the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton; the Federal Aviation Administration (Washington, DC); General Electric Aviation (Cincinnati, OH); Lockheed Martin Aeronautics (Palmdale, CA); Boeing Research & Technology, (St. Louis, MO); and a team from United Technologies Corporation led by subsidiary Pratt & Whitney in Hartford, CT.

NASA formed the consortium in support of the Advanced Composites Project, which is part of the Advanced Air Vehicles Program in the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, according to a news release. The project’s goal is to reduce product development and certification timelines by 30% for composites infused into aeronautics applications.

A panel of NASA, FAA and Air Force Research Laboratory experts reviewed 20 submissions and chose the members based on their technical expertise, willingness and ability to share in costs, certification experience with government agencies, and their focused technology areas and partnership histories.

“NASA is committed to transforming aviation through cutting edge research and development,” said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington. “This partnership will help bring better composite materials into use more quickly, and help maintain American leadership in aviation manufacturing.”