Ohio U, FAA pen $7.5M deal for avionics research

Staff Report

ATHENS — The Russ College of Engineering and Technology’s Avionics Research Center has signed a five-year, $7.5 million research agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration navigation programs to provide technical support to the analysis, testing and development of numerous navigation systems in the National Airspace System.

Continuing a partnership that spans decades, the FAA will tap center faculty, staff and graduate students to investigate ground- and satellite-based navigation and landing systems, the transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), approach lighting systems, as well as other services, according to center Director Mike DiBenedetto.

“The research we’ll perform will contribute to realizing the NextGen National Airspace System, providing improved safety, security and efficiency,” DiBenedetto said. “This means safer skies and more economical fares for travelers, as well as lower impact of air travel on our environment because NextGen uses more efficient routes and flight procedures.”

As part of the agreement, FAA Navigation Programs will issue specific research tasks to Center researchers over time. Two tasks — supporting the FAA’s Visual Guidance Lighting Systems and the NextGen Distance Measuring Equipment programs — have already been determined, explained Sam Mallipudi, Instrument Landing System Program Manager for the FAA.

“The Avionics Engineering Center has been recognized by the FAA and industry as a unique research organization specializing in the research, development, evaluation, implementation and sustainment of electronic navigation, surveillance and communication systems,” Mallipudi said. “The Center’s laboratories and test facilities are representative of actual airport operations and environments allowing detailed tests of existing and prototype equipment to be conducted under real-world conditions using the Center’s specially equipped flight test aircraft or ground-based data collection systems.”

DiBenedetto noted the benefit to Ohio University, saying the research agreement provides significant research experience to faculty, staff and especially students.

“I started my career at the Avionics Research Center supporting FAA navigation programs 32 years ago,” DiBenedetto said. “This longstanding collaborative partnership is part of a legacy passed to me by center founder Richard H. McFarland. My mission as director has been to sustain the ‘McFarland legacy’ of excellence in aviation, and this new agreement provides me the opportunity to pass the legacy forward to the next generation of Center researchers.”

Staff Report