Iowa State named member of FAA Center of Excellence

Iowa State University has been named by the Federal Aviation Administration to a team of universities forming a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence for general aviation. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made the announcement Thursday, September 27.

The team is called the FAA Center of Excellence Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility, and Sustainability (PEGASAS). PEGASAS will concentrate research and development efforts on general aviation safety issues, including airport technology; propulsion and structures; airworthiness; flight safety; fire safety; human factors; system safety management; and weather.

“The PEGASAS team has a superb core team of six research universities for this center of excellence, and we’re excited that we have been named as one of them. It’s a first for Iowa State,” said Richard Wlezien, professor and Vance and Arlene Endowed Department Chair in Aerospace Engineering.

Iowa State brings a group of engineering researchers with a wide range of expertise to the PEGASAS team, with specializations cutting across five engineering departments and two research centers on campus.

“In recent years we’ve placed such an emphasis on multidisciplinary approaches to research, and because of that Iowa State’s College of Engineering is able to offer the FAA a unique set of strengths,” said Wlezien. “The state of Iowa is also home to a great deal of general aviation activity, and it will be rewarding to be at the forefront of the technology areas outlined by the FAA in this program.”

Iowa State’s aerospace engineering faculty Hui Hu and Alric Rothmayer will conduct research on aircraft icing, and Anupam Sharma will research noise. Stephen Gilbert from the industrial manufacturing and systems engineering department will investigate human factors and cockpit design. And Halil Ceylan and Peter Taylor at Iowa State’s Institute for Transportation will research airport infrastructure.

Other researchers from Iowa State include Shashi Nambisan in the civil, construction, and environmental engineering department; Lisa Brasche at Iowa State’s Center for Nondestructive Evaluation; Ralph Napolitano in materials science engineering; and Song-Charng Kong in mechanical engineering.

PEGASAS will be led by Purdue University, Ohio State University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. In addition to Iowa State University, the core team also will include the Florida Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University. Affiliate members include: Arizona State University, Florida A&M, Hampton University, Kent State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Oklahoma State University, Southern Illinois University (Carbondale), Tufts University, Western Michigan University, and University of Minnesota, Duluth.

“The FAA continues its goal of working to reduce general aviation fatalities by 10 percent over a 10-year period, from 2009 to 2018,” said Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in a statement released by the FAA. “The Center of Excellence program is a valuable tool in providing the critical data we need to reduce those accidents.”

The FAA’s COE program is a cost-sharing research partnership between academia, industry, and the federal government. The FAA plans to invest a minimum of $500,000 per year during the first five years of the new 10-year agreement with PEGASAS.

For more information about the FAA Centers of Excellence program, visit the COE webpage at

To read more about the FAA’s announcement of PEGASAS, go to