Aviation Technology requires Perseverance to FAA Approval on Wing

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ARTICLE: Harvard Innovation Keeps Ice Off Leading Edges


Academia and in particular, pure scientists are well situated to make major advances in knowledge. Organizations, like Harvard’s Wyss Institute, a multidisciplinary organization, are adept at finding applications of new discoveries. The attached article is an excellent example of creative utilization of new technologies in aviation.

Joanna Aizenberg, Amy Smith Berylson and colleagues at Wyss became aware of SLIPS (Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces), a non-toxic, non-corrosive substance. The liquid forms an ultra-smooth, slippery coating and deters fluids and solids, such as ice, from attaching. If this can be practically developed, icing on wings may attack a threat posed by flying into certain meteorological conditions.

Dr. Aizenberg, whose areas of research include biophysics and self-assembly, material science, soft condensed matter and surface/interface science, explained

“This new approach to ice-phobic materials is a truly disruptive idea that offers a way to make a transformative impact on energy and safety costs associated with ice. …We are actively working with both the refrigeration and aviation industries to bring it to market.”

The transition from scientific concept to proven safety advance to a technology that can be utilized effectively for the defined purpose is tortuous. FAA acceptance starts in a series of tests at the FAA Technology Center and navigating its policies/procedures/practices may be best accomplished with the aid of a “pilot.” Once the basic function is proved, the regulatory process moves to demonstrating the innovation’s ability to perform in a real aviation operational regime.

Leading edge technology should be able to command the regulators’ respect. Unfortunately, the in-boxes of the FAA’s scientists and technical evaluation staff are full of proposals that claim great gains. Help in getting their attention, designing the path to approval and sheparding the review to the last step are all more likely with the assistance of the JDA team.

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