N.C. A&T selected for FAA Center of Excellence for general aviation

October 3, 2012

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is among 16 universities selected as members of the new Air Transportation Center of Excellence for general aviation.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says researchers at the institutions will focus on the safety, accessibility and sustainability of general aviation.  The group is officially called the FAA Center of Excellence Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility and Sustainability (PEGASAS).

The center will be led by Purdue University, The Ohio State University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The core team also will include the Florida Institute of Technology, Iowa State University and Texas A&M University.

N.C. A&T is an affiliate member, along with Arizona State University, Florida A&M, Hampton University, Kent State University, Oklahoma State University, Southern Illinois University (Carbondale), Tufts University, Western Michigan University and University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Dr. John Kizito, associate professor of mechanical engineering, will lead A&T’s work with the center. In addition to his aerospace research and teaching, he serves as advisor to mechanical engineering majors concentrating on aerospace. He is also mentoring two Guilford County Schools teachers chosen as Kenan Fellows for a project on designing safe aircraft and a group of A&T students collaborating with students at Purdue to design an experiment to be conducted aboard the International Space Station. 

The FAA’s Center of Excellence program is a cost-sharing research partnership between academia, industry and the federal government.  Its 30 industry, government, and nonprofit partners include Cessna, Gulfstream, GE Aviation, Harris Corporation, NetJets Inc., Piper, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, and Rolls-Royce, among others.

The agency says it intends to invest at least $500,000 per year during the first five years of the 10-year PEGASAS program. Research and development efforts will cover a variety of general aviation safety issues, including airport technology, propulsion and structures, airworthiness, flight safety, fire safety, human factors, system safety management, and weather. The FAA is in the midst of a 10-year program to reduce general aviation fatalities 10 percent by 2018.

PEGASAS is the FAA’s ninth center of excellence. N.C. A&T has participated in two earlier ones, the Center of Excellence for Airport Technology and the Center of Excellence for Airworthiness Assurance.

Among A&T’s aviation research assets is the NASA Center for Aviation Safety, directed by Dr. Kunigal Shivakumar.  The university also is a founding member of the National Institute of Aerospace.

For more on the FAA Centers of Excellence program, visit the program’s webpage, http://www.faa.gov/go/coe.