Aeronautics engineer Richard Whitcomb–whose research at NASA produced the area rule, supercritical wing and winglets–was posthumously inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame earlier this month. He died in 2008 at the age of 88. During Whitcomb’s almost four decades at NASA his “fundamental insight into aerodynamics and his practical solutions led to three of the most significant and practical contributions to aeronautics in the 20th century,” said NASA Langley Research Center director Lesa Roe.
Langley Research Center
A new computer system developed by NASA to automatically calculate the speed and distances between aircraft was scheduled for tests during overnight hours at Chicago O’Hare International Airport last month.
The general aviation and transport aircraft crashworthiness program that NASA has been operating since the 1970s will discontinue several planned and ongoing projects before closing in September, the victim of budget cuts. The facility, located at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., is the site for crashworthiness research of both aluminum and composite airframes.
It took a flood in central Pennsylvania three decades ago to get NASA into the business of crash-testing airframes, and the siren call of the “final frontier” to get it out.
With White House budget cuts restored by Congress, NASA is returning to its roots by restructuring its aeronautics research mission directorate to emphasize cutting-edge fundamental research, as well as protecting its far-flung test facilities as national assets.
The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), located on the campus of Wichita State University, is now running at full capacity following several lab renovations and additions. In the past 15 months, NIAR completed major upgrades to its crash dynamics laboratory and wind tunnel, and it opened a new advanced joining laboratory and an aircraft structural testing and evaluation center.
NASA is restructuring its aeronautics research programs, including fundamental aeronautics, airspace systems, aviation safety and aeronautics testing. Among the goals of the restructuring are protecting and maintaining NASA’s key aeronautics research and test facilities as national assets.