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FAA Awards $40 Million To New Center Of Excellence

September 19, 2013 - U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected a team of universities to lead a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) for alternate jet fuels and the environment. 

Led by Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the COE will explore ways to meet the environmental and energy goals that are part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). 

“This innovative partnership supports President Obama’s national plan to address climate change,” said Secretary Foxx. “The Center of Excellence will tap talented universities to help us take environmentally friendly, alternative jet fuel technology to the next level. Airlines and their customers will both benefit from their work developing cleaner fuel that supports the environment and continued aviation growth.” 


Core team partners include Boston University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, the University of Dayton, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the University of Hawaii, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Tennessee. 

Research and development efforts by the team will focus on NextGen environmental goals for noise, air quality, climate change and energy. Areas of study will include new aircraft technologies and sustainable alternative aviation jet fuels. 

The FAA’s COE program is a cost-sharing research partnership between academia, industry and the federal government. The FAA anticipates providing this COE with $4 million a year for each of the 10 years of the program. 

The selected university members all have nationally recognized collegiate environmental and aviation-related education programs. Research projects will be performed through a partnership of senior scientists from these universities. The COE universities also will engage both graduate-level and undergraduate students in their research activities.



“The FAA continues its goal to improve National Airspace System energy efficiency by at least two percent per year, and to develop and deploy alternative jet fuels for commercial aviation, with a target of one billion gallons of alternate jet fuel in use by 2018,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This Center of Excellence is a valuable tool to provide the critical data we need to reach these goals.” 

The COE industry and other organizational partners include: Aerodyne Research, Airbus/EADS, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Cathay Pacific Airways, Clean Energy Trust, CSSI, Delta Air Lines, General Electric Aircraft Engines, Gevo, Gulfstream, Harris Miller Miller & Hanson, Honeywell UOP, InnovaTek, KiOr, LanzaTech, Metron Aviation, NREL – National Bioenergy Center, PNNL, Rolls Royce, SAFRAN, U.S. DoD – AFRL (Wright Patterson Air Force Base), UTRC (Pratt and Whitney), Weyerhaeuser, Wyle Laboratories and ZeaChem.

Congress authorized Air Transportation Centers of Excellence under the Federal Aviation Administration Research, Engineering and Development Authorization Act of 1990. This legislation enables the FAA to work with universities and industry partners to conduct research in airspace and airport planning and design, environment and aviation safety, as well as to engage in other activities to assure a safe and efficient air transportation system. 

The FAA has established Centers of Excellence with more than 75 universities conducting research and education in nine other topic areas focusing on: commercial space transportation, airliner cabin environment and intermodal research, aircraft noise and aviation emissions mitigation, advanced materials, general aviation, airworthiness assurance, operations research, airport pavement and airport technology, and computational modeling of aircraft structures. 

The results of the research conducted through these Centers has resulted in enhancements to policy, guidance and overall safety improvements in many areas, including: remote airport lighting, updated training methodologies for aviation safety inspectors, advancements in Automatic Dependent Surveillance/Broadcast (ADS-B), helipad lighting enhancements for emergency medical services, a national general aviation flight information database, a national wildlife database, reduction of approach fuel burn by 10-20 percent, and many other innovations.
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