FAA Establishes New Center of Excellence for General Aviation; Florida Tech Is Core Team Member

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Florida Institute of Technology has been chosen as a core team university for a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Center of Excellence (COE) for General Aviation. The COE will focus research and testing efforts on safety, accessibility and sustainability to enhance the future of general aviation.

“The United States has the largest and most diverse general aviation community in the world, with more than 300,000 aircraft registered to fly through American skies,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This innovative partnership with academia and industry will help us take general aviation safety to the next level.”

The selected group is called the FAA Center of Excellence Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility and Sustainability (PEGASAS), and will be led by Purdue University, The Ohio State University and Georgia Institute of Technology. In addition to Florida Tech, the core team will include Iowa State University and Texas A&M University. Affiliate members include: Arizona State University, Florida A&M, Hampton University, Kent State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Oklahoma State University, Southern Illinois University (Carbondale), Tufts University, Western Michigan University and University of Minnesota, Duluth.

“We view this honor as valuable for enhancing the reputation of the university and helpful in increasing our research opportunities,” said College of Aeronautics Dean Kenneth Stackpoole.

The FAA’s COE program is a cost-sharing research partnership between academia, industry and the federal government. Research and development efforts by PEGASAS will cover a broad spectrum of general aviation safety issues, including airport technology, propulsion and structures, airworthiness, flight safety, fire safety, human factors, system safety management and weather.

The PEGASAS university members all have nationally recognized collegiate flight education programs, and three of the core members (Purdue, Ohio State and Texas A&M) also own and operate their own airports.

“The FAA continues its goal of working to reduce general aviation fatalities by 10 percent over a 10-year period, from 2009 to 2018,” said Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “The Center of Excellence program is a valuable tool in providing the critical data we need to reduce those accidents.”

The FAA established the first Center of Excellence for General Aviation in 2001 through a 10-year agreement to conduct general aviation research in airport and aircraft safety areas. The research topics included pilot training, human factors, weather, Automatic Dependent Surveillance/Broadcast (ADS-B), remote airport lighting systems and other matters.

As the first Center of Excellence for General Aviation research concludes, the new team will continue critical research, testing and education efforts. The FAA intends to invest a minimum of $500,000 per year during the first five years of the new, 10-year agreement with PEGASAS.

The FAA has established Centers of Excellence in eight other topic areas, focusing on commercial space transportation, airliner cabin environment and intermodal research, aircraft noise and aviation emissions mitigation, computational modeling of aircraft structures, advanced materials, airport pavement and airport technology, operations research and airworthiness assurance.

“Florida Tech is also part of the Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation. Being part of the two centers and in partnership with local industry creates a positive synergy that will help build our industry relationships in the years to come,” said Stackpoole.

For more information about the FAA Centers of Excellence program, visit the COE web page at http://www.faa.gov/go/coe.

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