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A major part of the Technology Capability Level 4 testing is ongoing conversations with thousands of aviation pilots and enthusiasts about how NASA, in collaboration with the FAA, can create a plan to address the challenges of drone integration--like noise, safety, certification, and public acceptance. •

As we began the final stage of testing for our Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management platform, drones took flight in Corpus Christi, TX, so that we could research what it takes to fly drones safely in urban areas. • This test focused on drone operations at altitudes between 200 and 400 feet within a dense city environment. Along with larger populations, city landscapes present unique challenges to drone traffic management, including more obstacles to avoid, specific weather and wind conditions, reduced lines of sight, reduced ability to communicate by radio, and fewer safe landing locations. •

We recently completed the final stage of testing on what is necessary to fly drones safely in cities, known as Technology Capability Level 4, or TCL4 for short, because we do love our acronyms 😀 • The TCL4 testing completed in Corpus Christi, TX, focused on drone operations within the city (at an altitude of 200 feet or higher) and what it takes to overcome the unique challenges presented when flying in a city environment. • Since 2015, we have worked to create a research platform that can manage drone traffic safely. Our goal is to understand how a nationwide system for drones can safely integrate them into low-altitude airspace. •

How would you like to fly in an aircraft knowing that your environmental footprint in doing so would be almost nonexistent? Electrifying planes – we're working on it ♻️ • What about flying anywhere long distance in half the time? And what if you could actually afford to be on that aircraft? Commercial supersonic flight – we're working on it 🤫 • Okay, well, what about…DRONES?! Inexpensive local flights that could relieve some of the pressures and high volumes of ground transportation and cargo delivery? Urban air mobility – we're working on it 🚁 • NASA is with you when you fly ✈ •

As air traffic continues to surge in the U.S., neighbors who live near airports are complaining about the escalating noise.  All the while, the demand for faster aircraft that travel at supersonic speeds is accelerating. • To address the expected noise levels of future aircraft, our Commercial Supersonic Technology project is already developing technologies focused on reducing the noise produced by an aircraft’s engine exhaust. •

Ice buildup on aircraft is a serious safety hazard 🥶 The presence of ice on airplane surfaces prevents the even flow of air, which makes it harder to get the plane in the air, and also messes with the balance of the plane in flight. • NASA-funded research and collaboration with industry has resulted in a handful of new products and applications with a focus on smarter, safer, and faster ways to de-ice aircraft. • One of these collaborations has led to the creation of a foil material that can be applied to a wing. This foil heats quickly, with a smart use of energy that doesn’t add significant weight to the aircraft. •

Memory foam – conveniently found in mattresses, footwear, and…crash-proof aircraft seating? • This NASA-developed foam cushioning functions for more then just in-flight comfort. The foam is also nonflammable and can absorb a high impact, two important factors in case of an emergency situation. • Since its development this squishy foam cushioning has been disseminated into items such as workout gear, wheelchair seat cushions, and even bras! •

Air travel has revolutionized the way we live, and because of that there are a lot of aircraft in flight at any given point. • And as tou can imagine, there is a lot that goes into keep tracking of all these flights. Thanks to our research a higher-frequency space-based radio, that can be reprogrammed from a distance, will make tracking these flights more efficient and effective. • This global tracking lets planes use more direct routes, saving flight time, which in turn saves fuel, leading to cost-savings for everyone! Cha-ching! 💰 •

When is the last time you used a spray bottle? Maybe it was a deodorant, or a household cleaner, or even a cooking spray to save your cookies 🍪 • For us, a spray can be used for anything from fuel injectors to de-icing, so there’s a lot of thought that needs to go into such details as the speed of its coating, the weight and density of the liquid, and the area size of the application. • To help figure out these spray details, we have collaborated with various industries (from medicine to automobiles) to use a particle analyzer for the identification and characterization of different sprays. So the next time you hear the hiss of a spray, just remember – you’re actually messing with fluid mechanics! •

We have always monitored how pilots react to their environment, whether keeping track of vital signs, watching for physical signs of stress during training, or noting the frequency of distraction and disengagement. • Monitoring software can keep track of a pilot’s physical and mental state based on indicators like heart rate, skin temperature, and brain waves. Using this data, our researchers are able to provide feedback to pilots and recommendations for improvement. • And this same monitoring software can be applied to virtual reality military training, sports training, and more! •

When you’re in a high-altitude environment, it can be more difficult to get oxygen into your system. This is a problem if you’re a mountain climber, as well as if you’re in an aircraft. • To account for this, the inside of an aircraft undergoes pressurization, keeping the environment oxygenated at similar ground levels. However, if this process fails, there’s not much anyone in a plane can do, because they would quickly lose consciousness. • A sensor, developed by NASA and used throughout the flight industry, can notify pilots when there’s a loss in cabin pressure, saving crucial seconds for pilots to apply an oxygen mask and guide the aircraft, and its passengers, to safety. •

Technology can cause a lot of headaches, but without it, things take a lot longer to get done. • Take the amount of scientific and mathematical equations that need to be undertaken to design an aircraft, or to fly one. With the help of automation, such as software used to configure grid systems and simulations, work that might have previously taken years to complete can now, with this software, be done within a few weeks! •

What could an aircraft and a water vessel, like a yacht, have in common? 🤔 They both have to account for, and accommodate, water and wind • With the use of special metering devices that can measure airflow, fluid speed, and even temperature, we're better able to predict turbulence, and research more efficient ways to design travel vehicles for both air and sea. •

Air traffic system safety is a core concern for us. As such, building and maintaining an efficient and effective traffic advisory system for flight has been something our researchers have been working hard to achieve. • The Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System works by alerting pilots to other nearby aircraft, identifying and tracking "intruders" whose course and speed make them threats to safety, and recommending actions to avoid collision. •

It's no secret that we are known for flight. Sometimes that flight transcends our planet into outer space 🚀 other times that flight gets you safely to your Earth-bound destination 🌏 But regardless of if you’re on a space flight or commercial flight, the technology and machinery used is often shared between these areas. • This technology is also shared between NASA and private industry. Engine designs for flight are also useful for car manufacturers in building an ever more efficient engine for your vehicle. • Our long collaborative history with industry, companies, and even the military help us to get faster, safer, and more cost-effective technologies to the public. •

Have you ever made a paper airplane? There’s a lot to factor in (the weight of the paper, the length of the plane, etc.), but perhaps most crucial is wing shape. • The shape, material, and overall design of a wing for commercial aircraft is crucial as well. However, we are long past building wings that are just capable of flight. Now, our focus is on how to improve flight, through greater safety, lower manufacturing costs, and faster speeds. • One example of this efficiently designed wing is the Supercritical Wing, which, instead of its original purpose of increased flight speeds, many commercial airlines now use to save fuel (and, as a result, have a more cost-effective flight). •

Experimental aircraft, or X-planes, allow us to test concepts that push the envelope of where technology is today, and where the future of flight might go. • Even if these concepts never come to fruition, often times another use for the data or technology discovered can have other valuable purposes to society inside and outside of aviation. • One of our latest X-planes, the X-57, aims to make commercially viable, all-electric passenger aircraft a reality. Though there are many technical hurdles left to overcome, one product that has emerged from this research is an all-electric motor, an energy and financially efficient engine that also generates lower noise and no emissions. •

A wind tunnel (yes, an indoor tunnel using controlled wind!) is super useful for flight research that isn't ready to test aircraft in actual flight. • Our National Transonic Facility has one of the best wind tunnels for research, and is used by our researchers as well as by commercial flight companies. • The innovative architecture and technology of wind tunnels allow for the entire aviation industry to prosper. Data transfers, project collaboration, and credible lessons learned and best practices benefits all, from the public on the ground all the way up to…well, the aircraft on the ground as well. •

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