Aviation is the design, development, construction, operation and production of aircraft. Aviation is derived from the Latin word Avis which signifies bird. Modern aviation system includes aerospace engineering (aeronautics and astronautics), air transportation system, communication, navigation, monitoring, aircraft flight control system, collision-avoidance system, weather system and air craft management system. Aviation and aerospace engineering deals with the design manufacture and study of the aircrafts, rockets and satellites. It also take account of their aerodynamic characteristics, airfoil, control surfaces, lift, drag and other properties. Aerospace Engineering is divided into two categories: Aeronautics and Astronautics. Aeronautics deals with craft that operate within earth’s atmosphere and Astronautics deals with craft that operate outside the earth’s atmosphere. From the flight of Kitty Hawk by the Wrights’ brothers to Antonov-225(the present largest aircraft) of today, many transformations have been made when tackling with the aviation challenges. The challenges that still exist in air transportation system are: air traffic congestion and delay, emission, fuel consumption, aircraft noise, bad weather, safety and environmental impacts. The NextGen aviation system should be efficient, capable, safe and secure to meet the demand of future advanced transportation system. Solutions to these problems require advanced mechanical models, keen research and development.
Air Traffic Congestion
The present air transportation system consists of congested traffic and different types of aircraft. There will be more in next 10 – 20 years. So, new solution for mobility is required. We need new ways to save time and approach, avoid traffic conflicts on the ground. Air traffic control becomes a problem when more number of both civilian and military planes use the same air space continuously. Major international airports all over the world are now exposed to risk of midair and ground collisions. Inter- city, inter- country and inter- continental air-lanes are also highly congested. In addition, the increase in use of private plane has added a threat to air traffic system. Air traffic congestion causes excess fuel usage and results air pollution and sound pollution. Annually, several of near-miss collisions are reported. Congestion-causes waiting times extended to hours at major airports. In this process fuel is wasted by airplanes while maintaining circular configurations stacked above the runways. British Airways estimates that it burns about 63,000 tons of fuel a year because of air traffic delays over Heathrow and Gatwick airports alone.
The first investigation of emissions from commercial airline flight shows that aircrafts are responsible for 4–8% of surface global warming which is equivalent to a temperature increase of 0.03–0.06 °C overall. More than 35 million commercial airlines fly every year. A 747 burns about a gallon of fuel in each second. About 18000 gallons of fuel is required for Boeing 747 to cross 3500 miles. When it is divided among 350 passengers it is 52 gallons per head (191 tons of CO2 is produced in a single flight and each person endures production of more than 1000 lbs. of CO2 ).Emissions from jet engines with the streaks of cloud (called contrails) are especially destructive for the environment. The direct impact of aircraft is air and sound pollution. Either it is from jet or from light aircraft; the noise from aircraft is associated to air speed. Fast moving machineries like jet boosters, propellers and compressor blades produce noise. The decibel level of different aircraft varies from 90db–150db which is quite painful for the human ear.
Safety is the other integral part of the aviation industry. With the history of 109 years of human flight, many transformations have been made for the safety. From then by many refinements broad Safety Management System (SMS) has been evolved. Aeronautics safety has been put together upon the reactive investigation of past mishaps and corrective actions have been introduced to prevent from the recurrence of those events and catastrophes such as position error, pilot error, engine failure and other mechanical errors. We have to protect the aviation system from bad weather too. Storms and fog make aircraft to change the path which results wasting of energy and time.
NASA’s Aviation Safety Program (AvSP) is conducting research program on existing safety challenges and on emerging encounters- significant rise in air traffic, new craft concepts, continued operation of legacy vehicles and automation. AvSP designs hardware and software system, verifying and validating (V&V) system which will be used in NextGen aircrafts. This will enable us safety for critical flight control system.
AvSP's top ten technical challenges are:
1. Guarantee of Flight Critical Systems
2. Discovery of Precursors to Safety Incidents
3. Assuring Safe Human-Systems Integration
4. Analytical Algorithm Design for Safety Assurance
5. Improve Crew Decision-Making and Response in Difficult Situations
6. Maintain Vehicle Safety between Major Checkups
7. Assure Safe and Effective Aircraft Control under Precarious Conditions
8. Engine Icing Characterization and Simulation Capability
9. Airframe Icing Simulation and Engineering Tool Capability
10. Atmospheric Hazard Sensing and Mitigation Technology Capability
NextGen augments safety, saves fuel, reduces delays and reduces aviation’s adverse environmental impact. This integrates prevailing technologies including satellite navigation and progressive digital communications. NextGen technologies will improve safety and convenience at airports by using piston and turbine powered aircraft. NextGen’s six transformational programs are: Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast, Data Communications, System Wide Information Management, NextGen Network Enabled Weather, National Airspace System (NAS) Voice System and Collaborative Air Traffic Management Technologies. NextGen abilities will ensure airports accommodate additional capacity in a safe, well-organized and ecologically accountable manner. For example, the sharing and use of recently available surface observation data to track aircraft will boost safety and allow airports to make recovering use of existing capacity. Airport surface upgrading is one of the prominences such as improving setups on closely spaced parallel, converging and intersecting runways.
Radical revolutions are going on in order to fulfill airspace future demands. The Next Generation Air Transportation System will create travelling in crowded skies more efficient and speedy continuing safety. Improvement in cockpit will increase safety transportation system. In NextGen, networking technology will be highly assembled. The system’s application enables controllers and pilots to update its data and share the corresponding information. Aircraft are being designed in such a way that it can adjust to fluctuating causes such as weather conditions, traffic congestion, loci of other aircraft, flight courses and any other terrestrial or aerial security trepidations. New types of aircraft are being designed to reduce noise, emissions and fuel consumption by 70 % during the next 30 yrs.
Implementing green aviation, NASA is creating safer, greener and more operative travel for everyone. Green aviation objectives are to facilitate fuel-efficient flight planning and reduce aircraft fuel consumption, releases and noise. Green Aviation encompasses activities to increase aircraft , proficient air traffic control and improve new technologies and engineering practices to grasp the future of carbon-neutral air transportation system. Furthermore research programs are being conducted to guarantee safety and long-duration missions in space science.
1. Improve concepts and methods to accomplish increasing complication in the design and operation of aircrafts and air transportation systems. And these projects should be cost effective.
2. Improve concepts and methods to detect, elude, lessen and recover from risky flight conditions and maintain vehicle reliability.
3. Inspect causes of danger and provide safe flight in and around atmospheric vulnerabilities.
Geography comes against the development in the landlocked countries like Nepal. If NextGen technology is significantly implemented, the fuel consumption by aircraft is highly reduced. This opens the broader network for all the developing landlocked countries like Nepal to drive up international trade.
Launching the NextGen technology, we will be able to have a safest, fastest and the most secured journey with the perpetuation of environmental protection, low energy consumption and reduction of the delays.
(NASA Ames Research Center every year announces the Space Settlement Design Contest. In this contest of 2012 the author got second position in individual series. This is the first time that any Nepali student got award in this competition).
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