The FAA is establishing a new “Center of Excellence” headed by Auburn University to examine cabin air quality and study chemical and biological threats in airliners. Other universities taking part in the effort include Purdue University, Harvard University, Boise State University, Kansas State University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Legislation passed in 1990 allows the FAA to partner with universities and industry to conduct research and development toward improving aviation safety, environmental effects and efficiency and airport and airspace planning and design. The agency has established eight other Centers of Excellence, dealing with general aviation, computational modeling of aircraft structures, airport pavement technology, operations research, airworthiness assurance, aircraft noise, aviation emissions mitigation and advanced materials.
As an example, the Center for Excellence for General Aviation Research (CGAR) is researching such areas as icing in Western Atlantic stratocumulus, land-and-hold-short operations, predicting impact responses of general aviation seating and use of ethanol as fuel for general aviation aircraft. Industry partners include Bombardier, Cessna, Raytheon, Lancair, Aeroshell, Frasca and Jeppesen. The research advisory council consists of NBAA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association.
The new initiative is officially titled the “Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Airliner Cabin Research,” and the consortium will research cabin air quality and conduct an assessment of chemical and biological threats.
The FAA will provide at least $1 million to the center the first year and $500,000
in each of the second and third years. Sources in the private sector will contribute matching funds.
“We’ve brought together some of the brightest minds science has to offer to focus on cabin air quality and chemical and biological threats to protect passengers and crewmembers,” said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. “This research will be of great benefit to the flying public.”