Iowa State University


William Shurtleff, Airworthiness Assurance Center of Excellence, (515) 294-8152
R. Bruce Thompson, Center for Nondestructive Evaluation, (515) 294-7864
Lisa Brasche, Center for Nondestructive Evaluation, (515) 294-5227
Joel Snow, Institute for Physical Research and Technology, (515) 294-8902
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University and Ohio State University, Columbus, will manage the newly established Airworthiness Assurance Center of Excellence (AACE) announced today (Sept. 23) by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

AACE will identify and solve critical technology challenges related to national aircraft safety, including research in the areas of aircraft inspection, maintenance and repair; crashworthiness; propulsion; advanced materials; and landing gears.

Iowa State and Ohio State will manage the center's core team of nine institutions. The other institutions are: Arizona State University, Tempe; Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.; University of Dayton, Ohio; University of Maryland, College Park; University of California-Los Angeles; Wichita State University, Kan.; and Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque. AACE affiliates include another 31 universities and 80 industry and government organizations.

"The new Center of Excellence will tackle one of the most important challenges we face today -- how to make air travel safer," said Iowa State President Martin Jischke. "The center will be a national focal point for aircraft research and testing to ensure the highest reliability and safety. It perfectly fits Iowa State's expertise in airplane reliability and in developing inspection techniques that are useful to the airline industry."

"In this Center of Excellence, some of the leading minds in academia, industry and government will advance aviation technology into the 21st century and beyond," said FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey. "This long-term partnership makes it possible for the FAA and other government agencies, such as NASA and the Department of Defense, to work with the academic community and industry to ensure the continued safety of the flying public."

The contract award has the potential to be for $10 million per year for up to 10 years. The award represents a long-term FAA commitment with the goal of having the center become self-supporting within 10 years.

AACE replaces and expands previous FAA support for the Center for Aviation Systems Reliability at ISU's Center for Nondestructive Evaluation (CNDE). The new program will be administered by ISU's Institute for Physical Research and Technology with CNDE and academic departments of the College of Engineering contributing technical expertise.

As the contract/grant holder for the program, ISU has responsibility for technical management of AACE. Bill Shurtleff, former manager of the Airworthiness Assurance Validation Center at Sandia National Laboratories, will join the ISU staff Oct. 6 as the AACE executive director. Working with Shurtleff will be Gerry Chubb, a professor of aviation at OSU, who will serve as business manager.

"IPRT is pleased to be the institutional home of this impressive consortium," said Joel Snow, IPRT director. "We are confident this group will successfully develop and transfer technology that improves aviation safety."

The Center for Excellence proposal was developed by ISU's Center for Aviation Systems Reliability and other core members in response to a solicitation from the FAA. The program goal is to build partnerships with the academic community, government and industry.

The five centers established to date create a pool of technical professionals trained in aviation-related research and help finance graduate education, foster cooperative FAA- university-industry research and development activities, and improve the national airspace system.

CNDE is a member of the Institute for Physical Research and Technology, a federation of research, technology development and technology transfer entities at Iowa State University.

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