The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has set up a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) in a bid to enhance the prospects of general aviation.
The FAA has also chosen a team of universities led by Purdue University, the Ohio State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology to carry out research and testing on safety, accessibility and sustainability aspects of general aviation.
FAA Center of Excellence Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility and Sustainability (PEGASAS) also includes the Florida Institute of Technology, the Iowa State University and the Texas A&M University.
Affiliate team 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.
US Transportation secretary Ray LaHood said that the country has the largest and most diverse general aviation community with more than 300,000 aircraft registered to fly through American skies.
"This innovative partnership with academia and industry will help us take general aviation safety to the next level," LaHood said.
The FAA Center of Excellence's partnership to enhance general aviation safety, accessibility and sustainability (PEGASAS) team will perform research on various general aviation safety concerns that include airport technology, propulsion and structures, airworthiness, flight safety, fire safety, human factors, system safety management and weather.
As per the new ten-year agreement with PEGASAS, FAA will invest $500,000 per year during the initial five years.
FAA administrator Michael Huerta said that the FAA continues its goal of working to reduce general aviation fatalities by 10% over a ten-year period, from 2009 to 2018.
"The Center of Excellence programme is a valuable tool in providing the critical data we need to reduce those accidents," Huerta said.
Both graduate-level and undergraduate students will be employed in the research activities that will be executed through collaboration with major investigators from universities.
The associates include industry and organisational partners and consulting partners that offer related contributions to assist balancing the FAA's investment in the COE's general aviation research initiatives.
Through a ten-year agreement, the FAA had set up the first COE for General Aviation to execute general aviation research in airport and aircraft safety areas in 2001.