Green Aviation Summit: radical aircraft ideas under construction!

By Gray Creech
NASA Dryden public affairs

Sept. 9, 2010
Fayette Collier, NASA Aeronautics Mission Directorate’s (ARMD) Subsonic Fixed Wing 
project manager,  says that the hybrid wing body airframe design appears to offer
the noise shielding called for in NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation, or ERA,
project to enable future noise reduction.
Caution: radical aircraft ideas under construction!
Rich Wahls, planning team lead for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission 
Directorate and project scientist for the directorate's Subsonic Fixed Wing project,
said that next generation (NextGen) aircraft would require a range of technologies
and leveraging. I call it the “holistic airplane.” He spoke of 10-15 percent structural
weight reduction using electron beam free-form fabrication (say that 3-times fast!)
and carbon nanotubes made from nanotube yarn and sheets already manufactured
in the lab.
Dale Van Zandt of NASA’s Glenn Research Center talked about open rotor engine
developments. Open rotors, looking like jet engines with the cowlings off exposing
their fan blades, are very efficient engines. Testing at NASA Glenn is progressing.
Stay tuned…

Tim Risch: X-48 BWB a good idea for reducing noise, fuel burn and emissions

By Gray CreechX48B in flight
NASA Dryden public affairs
Sept. 9, 2010, 9 a.m.

I asked Dryden’s X-48B & C project manager Tim Risch why he thought the blended wing-body airplane got a lot of notice at the Green Aviation Summit.

He said it’s because it’s a good idea. “One of the main reasons is that it has such great promise for revolutionary improvements in the three main areas that the summit is emphasizing (noise, fuel burn reduction, and emissions). Also, the X-48 has strong government and industry participation, and the concept has been demonstrated in flight, which lends credibility to the concept.”

NASA's Green Aviation Summit -– being environmentally responsible

By Gray Creech
NASA Dryden public affairs
Sept. 8, 2010, 8:45 a.m.
By way of further introduction,this two-day seminar will explore the depth and breadth of the NASA AeronauticsResearch Mission Directorate¹s work in environmentally responsible aviation.The challenges for green aviation will be addressed, along with some of thegroundbreaking solutions being developed by NASA. 
The idea is to inform participants from government, industry, and academia of 
specific research and development activities within NASA Aeronautics that
are directed at mitigating the environmental impact of aviation.
Also on tap are stimulating exchanges of concepts and ideas with some of the 
key stakeholders in green aviation. The workshop will feature detailed technical
presentations and panel discussions on the current state of the art and the
direction for near-and far-term research and development.
To top it off, the summit is slated to conclude with an aviation industry leaders'
panel discussion that will provide a view of their emerging technologies.
On with the show…

Gray Creech blogs from NASA's Green Aviation Summit

(Editor's Note – NASA'sAeronautics Research Mission Directorate is holding a two-day Green AviationSummit conference Sept. 8-9 at NASA's Ames Research Center in NorthernCalifornia. Gray Creech of NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's public affairsstaff is attending the summit, and will be periodically blogging on thehighlights of the event as they proceed. His first blog is posted below.)
By Gray Creech
NASA Dryden public affairs
Sept. 8, 2010, 8:15 a.m. PDT

Welcome to the 2010 NASA Aeronautics Research Mission
Directorate’s Green Aviation Summit, a proverbial peek-behind-the-
curtain for a look at the future of green aviation!

We’re “summiting” here at NASA’s Ames Research Center in
Mountain View, Calif.,  just a stone’s throw from the southern end of
San Francisco Bay, in the heart  of Silicon Valley. Bear with me as I
get our blog going. I could use a cup ‘o java to help bring coherence
to the conversation…

Let me introduce “green aviation” -- It’s more than “eco-friendly”
flight; it’s a compilation of radical ideas about the next generation of
airplanes making  less noise, producing less harmful emissions, and
achieving better fuel economy. 

Imagine standing at the end of an airport runway as a jetliner swoops
low, and still being able to hear someone next to you whisper. Imagine
these quieter planes being less polluting because of leaner combustion
technologies and cleaner fuels. And imagine these aircraft consuming
fuel in a miserly fashion, due to better aerodynamics and lightweight
composite construction, etc. 

I’ll keep you posted the next two days as the Summit unfolds – after I
get that first cup of coffee! I’ll be back soon…

Green Aviation Summit — Jaiwon Shin gives ARMD overview

By Gray Creech
NASA Dryden public affairs
Sept. 8, 2010, 9:05 a.m.

Welcomes and intros are done, compliments of NASA Ames’ director Pete Worden. First speaker up was Dr. Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research. He gave an overview of the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, or ARMD for short. He then described the success and utility of the X-48B Blended Wing Body research aircraft being flown at NASA Dryden.
BTW, I’m not alone; there are several fellow NASA Dryden Flight Research Center folks attending. We’ll see if we can’t chat with some of them later during breaks.

AIAA chief: NASA focusing on improved propulsion, aerodynamics, fuels

By Gray Creech
NASA Dryden public affairs
Sept. 8, 2010, 10:10 am

According to NASA Green Aviation Summit speaker Dr. MarkLewis, AIAA President, aircraft design has been driven byperformance since thebeginning, when the U.S. Army contracted with the Wright brothers for the firstmilitary aircraft. This is still the case. Now, NASA Aeronautics is looking tochange that by focusing on improved propulsion solutions, alternate fuels,advanced aerodynamic configurations, and even conservation, i.e., flying lessin order to conserve fuel.

Dennis Hines outlines NASA Dryden's role in Green Aviation research

By Gray Creech
NASA Dryden public affairs
Sept. 9, 2010

Dennis Hines, NASA Dryden’s Associate Director for Programs, joined me for a chat.

I asked him what his thoughts are regarding the Green Aviation Summit.

“What we’ve heard is the importance of green aviation, and NASA has put in place robust technology efforts to address these green aviation goals. As (Charlie) Bolden emphasized, this must be a partnership between academia, industry, and other government agencies to achieve these goals.”

Next, I asked Dennis to give us a brief overview of NASA Dryden’s role in green aviation.

“The X-48B we’re flying at Dryden is clearly a poster child for proving-out advanced green aviation airframe concepts. We’re also working on a laminar flow project with Texas A&M, putting a glove on one of our G-III aircraft to test a technique to improve laminar flow.”

Hines continued, “We’re continuing development of Fiber Optic Shape Sensing technology for the structural monitoring of lightweight, advanced aircraft structures and materials for advanced aircraft like Global Observer wing tests recently accomplished with AeroVironment at Dryden. We’re going to be sharing this technology with Boeing on their Phantom Eye aircraft as well.”

Green Aviation: Charlie Bolden says NASA has a critical environmental responsibility

By Gray Creech
NASA Dryden public affairs
Sept. 9, 2010

Welcome back to the 2010 NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Green Aviation Summit at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

Yesterday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said that NASA has a “critical responsibility” to the flying public to develop environmentally responsible solutions to the nation’s most pressing aviation problems.

“We need to make some changes — both in the design of aircraft and in the way they transit through our skies to not only maintain, but improve safety and efficiency,” Bolden said. “That’s a huge challenge, but we at NASA enthusiastically accept it.”

Rising to the Occasion – Pad Abort 1

I know that there is a perception in the general public about thetraditional government worker who has no incentive or desire to work hard. Ihaven’t found too many of those people working at NASA, and there certainlyaren’t any of them on the Orion Abort Flight Test Project. On an average dayNASA Dryden has 30 to 50 people, stationed at the White Sands Missile Rangein New Mexico, preparing for the big event: the first test launch of theOrion Abort Flight Test system.

Our team is joined by the Flight Test management team from the NASA Johnson
Space Center (Houston, TX), engineers and technicians from the NASA Langley
Research Center (Hampton, VA), support personnel from the NASA White Sands
Test Facility (Las Cruces, NM), safety personnel from the NASA Kennedy Space
Center, and numerous contractors including prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
One of the biggest issues for managers has been trying to decide when to
“throttle back” this incredible team to keep them from overworking
themselves.  Anytime you have a dangerous work environment and high-value
flight hardware, we enforce work-hour limitations designed to keep people
and one-of-a-kind test hardware safe.  It’s always a tough balance between
the can-do attitude of our team and the need to keep everyone safe.
And safety is key, since we are getting close to igniting a half million
pounds of solid rocket thrust that will pull the 31,600-pound Launch Abort
Vehicle (which is comprised of the crew module and the launch abort system)
to an altitude of about one mile. Two other, smaller solid rockets will be
used to steer the test article and then jettison the launch abort system
from the crew module before three enormous parachutes inflate to slow the
crew module to a survivable descent rate prior to landing (see animated
During the past three months our combined test team has been completing
final component installations and integrated system checks.  Just last week,
the team completed a mission rehearsal to verify the functionality of every
element that will be used on launch day: from the crew completing pre-launch
procedures, to chilling the solid rockets to proper temperatures, to full
staffing of the mobile control room, to power-up of every telemetry antenna,
radar and tracking camera, to launch of weather balloons and more. This test
has helped us iron out the details of the day-of-flight checklists in
preparation for the Pad Abort 1 launch.
While it’s impossible to detail all the work that the team has accomplished,
I would like to mention a few people that have risen to the occasion in the
past few weeks to keep this project on track. I wish I had more space,
because I could fill 10 pages with kudos.

– Mary Alice Grossman and Sean Clarke led a marathon session to develop,
implement and test last-minute changes to many of the control room displays
in preparation for critical ground tests.

– Our flight instrumentation team (Dave Dowdell,  Ernie Valdez, Leo Gross,
Joe Hernandez, Phil Hamory, Lynette Jones, Susan Sprague) completed final
checkout of over 700 instrumentation sensors on the test vehicle while
working on the second shift, to avoid impacting integration testing that was
ongoing on the day shift. And they did it ahead of schedule!

– Operations engineer Matt Berry stepped up to provide critical support to
the avionics team while maintaining his current heavy workload, and fellow
ops engineer John Ruhf took on the testing and fit checks of the
late-arriving Launch Abort System Protective Cover so that it would be ready
for the upcoming launch.

– Monte Cook is doing an excellent job leading the incredible avionics team
through a very challenging and dynamic time after their former (legendary)
leader, Paul Aristo, was promoted.  

– Bill Condzella and Jeff King have consistently stepped up to review and
approve complex operations and test procedures to ensure that all safety
requirements are being properly addressed. At times, this has been a
monumental task under tight schedule constraints.

So as we all follow the progress of this on NASA-TV and the NASA website,
let’s not forget the people behind the projects…. I am proud to support an
exceptional team of technicians, mechanics, engineers and many other mission
support staff that are about to write that next chapter in American space
Brent Cobleigh
Director, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center

NASA Pilots in Casper, Wyo. – An Awesome Mission to Inspire Kids

(Editor’s Note – NASA Dryden Flight Research Center pilots Mark Pestana and Herman Posada recently flew NASA 7, a modified Beechcraft B-200, to Casper, Wyo., to talk with several hundred students and their teachers about NASA and their careers as research pilots of both manned and remotely operated research aircraft. Posada writes about his experiences on the trip, which was part of NASA’s Summer of Innovation educational outreach program.)

We were told early in July about the trip to Casper. I began to look forward to such an adventure. Anything that involves flying and I am in.

I then received the details of the mission and found out it was an education outreach. I enjoy sharing my experiences with the kids and the public.

Rina Nakano of KCWY-TV, Ch. 13 in Casper, Wyo., does a stand-upreport in front of NASA 7, a Beechcraft B-200 King Air. Nakanointerviewed Dryden pilots Mark Pestana and Herman Posada during theirSummer of Innovation educational outreach visit to a Casper middleschool.  (Photo courtesy Herman Posada)

We assembled all the material for presentations we planned to make and were ready for the flight on July 13. The weather was great, which made the flight even more enjoyable. I had heard that the school we were going to was also tracking our progress on the Internet through one of the flight-tracking Web pages. Awesome!

The mission was getting more exciting as the day progressed. We landed at Casper and were met by a very friendly staff at the fixed-base operation. We drove into town and enjoyed a quick lunch. Soon after, we were navigating through town and found the college where the class was being held. Our hosts helped us set up our displays and equipment, and we noted all the excitement in the room as the kids and staff eagerly awaited our presentation.

The Power Point presentation on what NASA does and demonstrations in the class were incredibly well received. The question and answer session went on for close to an hour. All questions were interesting and well thought out by the class. Of particular interest was how water is consumed in space. The class was intrigued by this simple task. We then broke out into smaller groups to discuss space and aviation topics and gladly signed pictures for the kids. We had brought pins and miniature airplanes and the group was very appreciative.

As the day drew to a close we were invited by the teaching staff to a dinner in town. We gladly accepted and were met at the restaurant by a great group of teachers. We shared stories and experiences as we enjoyed a great meal.

The next morning we promptly got out to the airport to set up for the kids to visit the airplane. We were also told that a media crew might visit. After a short wait, the first school bus showed up with the first group of students. Some of the students had never been in an airplane. It was awesome seeing their reactions to coming inside and going into the cockpit. More questions came up and small discussions ensued on how the airplane works and how we navigate in the air.

It was a great feeling inspiring these kids on something that I enjoy. I recall being their age and aspiring to be a pilot and wondering if I would ever get there. Telling my story to them perhaps energized some of them to follow my footsteps and career.

Eventually the second bus showed up and more students got to see the airplane. The local TV station sent out a reporter and she also got to see the airplane and do an interview with us. It aired that night and was well received. When we had shown all the kids and teachers the airplane we prepared it for what would be an uneventful flight back to Dryden.

What an awesome mission to inspire the kids in Casper, Wyoming!

Herman Posada
Research Pilot, Unmanned Aircraft Systems
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center