WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) – members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation – introduced legislation to invest new federal resources into the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Center of Excellence (CoE) formed by Wichita State University and the University of Washington.
The Joint Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials and Safety Act broadens the scope of research conducted at the Centers of Excellence to include testing for accessible air travel for people with disabilities, including in-cabin wheelchair users and passengers with mobility challenges, as well as increases federal resources for the consortium to accommodate additional research capabilities. The bill also strengthens the centers’ research into advanced aerospace technologies such as carbon fiber polymers, thermoplastic composites and additive manufacturing. This research supports innovative future commercial aircraft designs.
“Our universities are necessary partners and pivotal contributors to aviation safety research,” said Sen. Moran, Ranking Member of the Commerce Aviation Subcommittee. “As the aviation industry continues to evolve, this legislation will help make certain the Joint Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials can continue identifying solutions for advanced structures and materials issues, while meeting the demands of a changing ecosystem to ensure that any passenger who chooses to fly can do so and in a safe manner. I am pleased this legislation will continue to support and invest in the important research conducted at Wichita State University in the Air Capital of the World.”
“Continuing the mission of FAA’s Joint Centers of Excellence for Advanced Materials is critical to advancing U.S. leadership in advanced materials and composites that will make planes lighter, safer, and more fuel-efficient. Extending the Centers’ research to advance the safe use of wheelchair restraint systems and personal wheelchairs in flight is key to improving the passenger experience for individuals with disabilities,” said Sen. Cantwell, Chair of the Commerce Committee. “With this bill, Senator Moran and I will continue investing in collaborative research between the University of Washington and Wichita State University to make air travel safer and more accessible for all passengers.”
“As the aerospace industry continues to advance, the need for high-performance materials is more critical than ever and Wichita State University strongly supports the continuation of the FAA Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials,” said John Tomblin, WSU senior V.P. for Industry and Defense Programs and director of the Center of Excellence for Composites and Advanced Materials (CECAM). “At the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), we recognize the importance of investing in the development and testing of advanced materials to ensure the safety and sustainability of all aircraft and passengers. That’s why we proudly support the FAA Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials and its critical role in identifying, adopting, and testing the next generation of advanced materials. We’re also proud to support the expansion of this center and the Aviation Safety Act and its goals, such as identifying cost-efficient options for wheelchair space on commercial aircraft while ensuring safety for all passengers. We at NIAR, and the South-Central Kansas region, applaud Senator Moran for his efforts and continued support to ensure the safety and accessibility of our skies and for being an advocate for our economy by promoting research and workforce development in advanced materials for aerospace and the expanded focus on accessibility to travel for individuals with disabilities.”
“At the University of Washington, we pride ourselves in leading transformative research in partnership with industry leaders to make new and safe applications of advanced materials and composites possible,” said Dr. Marco Salviato, Associate Professor in the William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics (A&A) and Director of the Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials in Transport Aircraft Structures (AMTAS) at the University of Washington. “We welcome the opportunity to advance our work with our JAMS COE partners to research aircraft accessibility for all passengers using AMTAS expertise in computational crashworthiness modeling and CECAM’s state-of-the-art crash test facilities. We thank Senator Cantwell and Senator Moran for their continued support of the Joint Centers of Excellence for Advanced Materials and appreciate Senator Cantwell’s ongoing work to ensure Washington state continues to be a leader in aerospace research and innovation for years to come.”
“All Wheels Up is very encouraged by the progress being made through the great support and leadership of Senator Cantwell and Senator Moran to achieve safe, accessible air travel for all,” said Michele Erwin, Founder and President of All Wheels Up. “The Joint Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials and Safety Act is an important and vital step towards making air travel truly accessible. Expanding the scope of the FAA Joint Centers of Excellence for Advanced Materials to include further research in aircraft accessibility and wheelchair restraint systems, among other areas which would enable individuals to use their personal wheelchairs in flight, is a significant milestone for our vision of accessible air travel where passengers remain safely in their personal wheelchairs when flying on commercial airplanes. We unequivocally support this Act and appreciate the work of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations, and Innovation to propel accessible air travel forward and inevitably achieve a shared goal – a wheelchair spot on airplanes that provides passengers a dignified, equitable and safe travel experience.”
Bill text can be found HERE.