The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the selection of a coalition of 16 universities and 26 industry and federal partners and stakeholders for a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) for pursuing R&D on sustainable jet biofuels.
The Air Transportation COE R&D projects will be focused on coming up with ways to meet certain NextGen goals associated with the environment and sustainability.
NextGen is the Next Generation Air Transportation System – the FAA‚Äôs new satellite-based air traffic control system which is being phased in to replace the current ground-based system.
The research efforts for the COE team will be focused on ways to achieve the NextGen air quality, noise, energy and climate change goals. This includes new technologies for aircraft as well as sustainable alternative aviation jet fuels.
The FAA is providing $4 million per year to COE, and will do so for the entire 10-year period of the program. The rest of the funding for COE will come through a 1-1 match from industry partners.
Research projects will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities, each of which has environmental and aviation-related educational programs.
The FAA has previously established similar Air Transportation COEs for nine other topic areas involving a total of more than 75 universities. Research conducted by the COEs has resulted in improvements and innovations such as remote airport lighting and a reduction of 10-20 percent in approach fuel burn, among other things.
These COEs were authorized by Congress under the FAA Research, Engineering and Development Authorization Act of 1990. The act allowed the FAA to work with academia and industry partners for research in airspace and airport design and planning, aviation safety, environmental issues, and other activities that contribute towards a safer and more efficient air transportation system.
This new COE headquartered at WSU was created through language included in the FAA reauthorization bill of 2012.
Apart from WSU, other COE members from Washington included in the coalition are Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Port of Seattle, Spokane International Airport, Weyerhaeuser, InnovaTek and Imperium Renewables.
Mike Bair, vice president of Marketing and Business Development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said it was a terrific win for WSU and the Pacific Northwest, and further validates the region‚Äôs leadership in the development of sustainable aviation biofuels.
WSU President Elson S. Floyd likewise said that competing for and winning the COE reaffirms WSU and Washington State as international leaders in aviation and alternative jet fuels development.