The future of air travel may bring some much needed relief with the dawn of the VLJ aircraft and the convenience of utilizing our neighborhood airport. KewlJets.com explores the various technologies, aircraft, and government programs that are designed to provide some much needed options to our air transportation system in the U.S. From the Small Aircraft Transportation System, know as SATS, to the Next Generation Air Transportation System, known as NGATS, and the development of the next generation of supersonic jets we will provide you with the latest information on jet travel that is available.
The dawn of an official U.S. government project aimed at initiating development of a new transportation system based on the utilization of the 5,000 small airports in the United States that are under utilized. Started in about 1999 the project was a team effort between government agencies such as NASA, FAA, state aviation officials, the aviation industry, academia, researchers, and non-profit groups. The SATS projects received a total budget of $78 million from the U.S. budget to research the program.
The majority of the commercial air traffic in the US is run through just 45 airports, so the objective of the SATS program was to develop a system that can support advanced safety features at the smaller airports and in the smaller aircraft that can utilize these airports (According to the SATS website http://sats.larc.nasa.gov/main.html). The key safety features included all-weather technologies for airports and advanced safety technologies on aircraft that are cost effective. The SATS program was described as a “virtual interstate skyway system” that could potentially relieve the major airport gridlock that we are experiencing in today’s air travel system.
In addition to the providing an alternative means of air transportation the SATS program also touts the benefit of providing economic development for the communities where the small airports are locating. The advent of more commercial air traffic would potentially generate key jobs for the community as well as providing an economic boost in retail, travel, and restaurant businesses from would be travelers. The small aircraft transportation system could prove to be win/win for both the traveling public and the local airport communities.
The SATS program seems to have concluded in 2005 with there final demonstration to have taken place in Danville, VA in June, according to the official SATS website. According to the website, the following technologies were demonstrated by the SATS team:
Judging by the SATS website we believe that it’s safe to assume the program has concluded, although we have not located an official statement to that affect. Please contact us if you have any additional information to share. However, there was a new U.S. government air transportation initiative that was started by the Bush administration in 2003
In the wake of the 9-11 tragedy the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) initiative was launched in 2003 to accelerate the effort to upgrade the U.S. air transportation system by 2025. The law that was enacted by Congress and President Bush is the VISION 100 – CENTURY OF AVIATION REAUTHORIZATION ACT PUBLIC LAW 108-176(click for copy), that will be managed by the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to the law the JPDO will work in conjunction with the Department of Defense (DOD), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
According to the official NGATS website (http://www.jpdo.aero/index.html), NGATS will provide a “more flexible, resilient, scalable, adaptive, and highly automated – meeting up to two to three times current (air traffic) demand.” The emphasis for this program seems to be on utilizing the latest in information technology to provide state of the art flight safety, ground security, weather tracking, and other technologies to secure a more fluid and efficient air travel system. The general responsibilities of the JPDO as provided in the law include:
Creating and carrying out an integrated plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System pursuant to subsection
Overseeing research and development on that system;
Creating a transition plan for the implementation of that system
Coordinating aviation and aeronautics research programs to achieve the goal of more effective and directed programs that will result in applicable research
Coordinating goals and priorities and coordinating research activities within the Federal Government with United States aviation and aeronautical firms
Coordinating the development and utilization of new technologies to ensure that when available, they may be used to their fullest potential in aircraft and in the air traffic control system
Facilitating the transfer of technology from research programs such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration program and the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program to Federal agencies with operational responsibilities and to the private sector
Reviewing activities relating to noise, emissions, fuel consumption, and safety conducted by Federal agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Defense.
The law does inform the JPDO that it should consult with the public as well as industry experts for research and input in the development of the NGATS. For the latest and more detailed information on the progress of the NGATS program or on the JPDO please visit www.jpdo.aero.
An interesting development in aircraft development is finally tackling the challenge of flight time in the aviation market with the supersonic jet aircraft. Companies like Supersonic Aerospace International (SAI) and Aerion Corporation are focused on the development of supersonic jets that can reach Mach 1.8 without the sonic boom that proved to be a major obstacle to for the Concorde jet to reach the mass market.
These supersonic aircraft have the potential to cut current jet flight times almost in half. Consider flying from Los Angeles to New York in jet in just over 2.0 hours instead of 5 hours or New York to Paris in just over 3.0 hours in instead of 7 hours. Now that is really Kewl.
The SAI jet is called the Quiet Supersonic Transport (QSST) and it can reach Mach 1.8, fly from LA to NY in just over 2 hours and will be no louder than an automobile traveling along a freeway at 70 mph. In addition, the QSST will have a range of 4,000 nautical miles which is ideal for flying from:
Los Angeles to New York: 5 hours to just over 2 hours
New York to London 6.5 hours to just over 3 hours
Paris to New York 7 hours to 3.5 hours
Washington, DC to Frankfurt, Germany 8 hours to 3.75 hours
Los Angeles to Honolulu 5 hours to just over 2 hours
Los Angeles to Tahiti 7 hours to 3.5 hours
SAI is working with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin on the aircraft design and they have received submissions from the leading jet engine manufacturers to develop their environmentally friendly engines. The jet engine manufacturers are General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls Royce. The QSST will be especially designed to provide supersonic air travel with little or no environmental noise or pollution impact.
According to SAI the QSST is being developed as an ultra exclusive private jet that would cost in the neighborhood of $80 million. If “time is money” then the new QSST could give really provide a great value for those who can afford it.
QSST info and images
The Aerion Corporation is developing a supersonic jet aircraft that is called the Supersonic Business Jet (SSBJ). The SSBJ is designed to reach Mach 1.6 and it has a unique wing design that will cut flight times in half.