Developing and dispersing this technology will be of greatest benefit outside of NASA, with improved safety and profitability for commercial aircraft operators at all levels, from private pilots to commercial airlines. By increasing lift and reducing drag on airfoils the technology being developed here, if implemented, can reduce fuel consumption, increase payload, or produce a combination of both. Any of these choices will make aircraft operation more profitable. (Fuel is second only to salaries as an airline operating cost.) Reducing fuel consumption will also reduce emissions, including aircraft-produced CO2. Reduced boundary layer separation will also improve the effectiveness of control systems. Making an aircraft more responsive to its controls, an added advantage, will make a small contribution to improved safety as well. Beyond these direct applications, this technology offers the promise of improved aircraft deicing systems as the same heating elements are used to loosen and shed ice formed in flight, and even further afield, lead to thin layer speakers that can be located in places where it is not now possible to locate speakers.
One of NASA's functions is to develop cutting edge technology for adoption by the civilian and military aviation sectors, technology like the technology in this project. This can keep the U.S. aircraft industry on top. The technology proposed here is funded under subtopic A2.07 Flight and Propulsion Control and Dynamics under Fundamental Aeronautics. NASA operates its own fleet of transport aircraft to move people, spacecraft, and rocket components around the country and around the world. Adding this system for reducing flow separation to those aircraft could increase carrying capacity and reduce fuel consumption.