NAVAIR Team Rewarded with FAA 2006 Excellence in Aviation Research Award

By Rob Koon, NAVAIR Public Affairs

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. - The Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS) Team has won the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 2006 Excellence in Aviation Research Award. The award was presented to the team on December 21 in a ceremony held at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

"This technology is saving lives," said FAA R&D Director Joan Bauerlein. "The Navy's research and development efforts on the terrain awareness warning system are dramatically improving the safety of military aviation and helping to meet safety goals for the national aviation system."

“I can’t be more proud of our team,” said Capt. Greg Silvernagel, program manager, Air Combat Electronics (PMA 209). “The team kept on pressing ahead with TAWS for years and now that hard work is being recognized.”

“The team developed the TAWS system at a cost of approximately $10.8 million over four years,” said Bill Wescoe, TAWS team leader, Air Combat Electronics. “The F/A-18 Hornet aircraft that it protects cost approximately $80 million each, and the lives that it saves are priceless.”

“TAWS was developed to reduce the chances of aircrews experiencing Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT),” added Silvernagel. “TAWS is a patented software safety backup system for fighter aircraft and helicopters that warns aircrews who have lost situational awareness of impending collisions with the ground (CFIT). The TAWS software determines when to provide audio and visual warnings to the pilot.”

Commercial off the shelf solutions for CFIT protection are effective for military transport aircraft, but do not work for fighter type aircraft, such as the F/A-18 Hornet. These aircraft fly at very low altitudes and high speeds to accomplish their missions. Because commercial systems don’t work in that environment, the Air Combat Electronics team developed a software solution that provides warnings to U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators of imminent ground collisions (CFIT).

“This is the tenth year that the prestigious Excellence in Aviation Research Award has been presented, said Bauerlein. “The awards are given annually to individuals and/or institutions outside of the FAA whose research contributions have resulted in a significantly safer, more efficient national airspace system.”

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