NASA Forms Partnership to Advance Composite Materials

NASA has formed a public-private partnership with five organisations to advance knowledge on composite materials that could improve the performance of future aircraft.

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

Included in this consortium is NASA’s Advanced Composites Project, managed from the agency’s Langley Research Centre in Hampton; the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); General Electric Aviation, Cincinnati; Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Palmdale, California; Boeing Research & Technology, St. Louis; a team from United Technologies Corporation led by subsidiary Pratt & Whitney in Hartford, Connecticut; and the NIA.

Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington said;

NASA is committed to transforming aviation through cutting edge research and development. This partnership will help bring better composite materials into use more quickly, and help maintain American leadership in aviation manufacturing.

The NIA will deal with communications from within the consortium and help manage the programmatic and financial aspects of members’ research projects. The NIA also will serve as a “tier two” member with a representative on the consortium’s technical oversight committee.

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. 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.

Representatives from each organisation in the consortium participated in technology goal planning discussions, assembled cooperative research teams, and developed draft plans for projects in three areas: prediction of life and strength of composite structures, rapid inspection of composites and manufacturing process and simulation.