Department of Transportation (DoT)
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
In terms of air traffic control and navigation, the FAA undertook a wide variety of activities in FY 1995. The FAA's Advanced Automation System program underwent major restructuring to contain cost growth and minimize delays, and several new component systems were introduced. The FAA ordered a new digital Voice Switching and Control System for all traffic control centers, and the FAA Academy replaced 30-year-old equipment. In a significant milestone for satellite navigation, the FAA awarded a contract to build a Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). FAA personnel hope that the WAAS will transform national navigation from ground-based to space-based capability. The WAAS program is being designed to serve all phases of flight, including takeoff, en route, approach, and landing. During FY 1995, GPS achieved final operating capability for civil aviation usage, and the FAA continued to certify additional GPS receivers. The FAA continued to conduct flight tests for GPS nonprecision terminal approach instrument procedures at heliports, which resulted in 35 lives being saved in one year at a single trauma center test site.
The FAA required small commercial airplanes to be equipped with the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System by the end of 1995. In Atlantic City, the FAA Technical Center helped develop and define a common set of air traffic control protocols for operational procedures for the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center to accommodate a reduced aircraft vertical separation standard. The FAA also worked toward the development of U.S. and international standards for controller/pilot data link communications to standardize interfaces for digital messages.
In the area of weather services, the FAA continued development of Integrated Terminal Weather Systems to provide short-range forecast and warning notices to pilots and air traffic controllers. Demonstrations of Graphical Weather Services and Traffic Information Services began in 1995 and will lead to a regional evaluation program and then a national implementation. During FY 1995, the FAA commissioned Terminal Doppler Weather Radar Systems at four test sites around the country. Engineers completed the development of the FAA's Wake Vortex Training Aid, addressing vortex issues from the viewpoint of both the pilot and the air traffic controller, and distributed several thousand copies to the FAA and industry. The FAA also worked closely with British officials to analyze aircraft separation data relevant to wake vortices.
Flight safety and security were two additional areas of considerable activity for the FAA during FY 1995. In particular, the FAA worked to find environmentally acceptable fire extinguishing systems without halon. The FAA continued its comprehensive Airport Pavement Research Program and its work with NASA's Langley Research Center (LaRC) in analyzing aircraft structural safety through the use of Langley's crash impact research facility. Internationally, the FAA participated in the development of an Air Accident Investigation Tool with the Civil Aviation Authority in England. The FAA continued to research various technologies and methodologies to mitigate and prevent catastrophic failure to aircraft. In the area of security technology, the FAA certified the first Explosive Detection System for detecting bulk explosives in checked baggage.
During FY 1995, the FAA continued its efforts to improve human performance in the national airspace system through its research and development program. FAA personnel also developed a prototype automated performance measurement system to provide objective measures of crew and aircraft performance. Additionally, the FAA produced a Human Factors Guide for Aviation Maintenance, which provided maintenance managers with established principles of job design in a reference work suitable for daily use.
The FAA collaborated with NASA on a variety of projects relating to general aviation, from aircraft noise and emission reductions to innovative aircraft design. In the area of noise reduction, the two agencies reported to Congress their progress on technologies for subsonic aircraft, particularly propeller-driven airplanes and rotorcraft. The FAA also participated in a NASA study to develop a scientific basis for assessing the impact of aircraft emissions on the environment, particularly on the ozone layer and global climate change. Cockpit display and control technologies and civilian tiltrotor aircraft were two other topics of FAA-NASA cooperation. Near the end of the fiscal year, the FAA and NASA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Airspace System User Operational Flexibility and Productivity, which initiates joint research and development activities to improve the efficiency of the Nation's airspace system.
Office of Commercial Space Transportation (OCST)
Since OCST was established in 1984, its responsibilities have been to license commercial space launches and the operation of launch facilities and to encourage commercial space launches by the private sector. Twelve commercial space launches were conducted by U.S. launch operators under licenses granted by OCST during FY 1995. OCST issued a payload determination for the Multiple Experiment to Earth Orbit and Return reentry vehicle, the first attempt at a ground-initiated reentry of an orbital spacecraft by a commercial operator. In connection with the amended Commercial Space Launch Act, OCST processed more than a dozen maximum probable-loss determinations based on the actual risks associated with proposed launch activities during the fiscal year. OCST also continued a program to encourage and facilitate the development of voluntary industry standards for launch safety. A major priority for OCST during this fiscal year was the updating and "reinventing" of its original 1988 regulations.
A major policy accomplishment by OCST for FY 1995 was the development of the Implementation Plan for the National Space Transportation Policy that was adopted the previous fiscal year. OCST also participated in several interagency efforts on space policy led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
OCST experts also supported the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) office in its negotiations for a new space launch trade agreement between the United States and the People's Republic of China. This agreement was signed into force on March 3, 1995. OCST also supported a USTR-led delegation to establish a commercial space launch trade agreement between the United States and Ukraine.
In the area of launch vehicle technology, the OCST Director provided technical assistance and policy analysis as a member of the DoD's Source Selection Advisory Board for the EELV program. Similarly, OCST's staff provided technical and analytical support to a NASA-led review of the RLV technology program.
Regarding orbital debris, OCST contributed significantly to the interagency effort to develop policy on space orbital debris for the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). To support pending and anticipated applications for licenses to launch large constellations of communications satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEO), OCST personnel researched collision risk and the effects of service disruptions caused by collision.
Curator: Lillian Gipson|
Last Updated: September 5, 1996
For more information contact Steve Garber, NASA History Office,