First, this proposal directly supports the NASA Air Vehicle Technology topic that 'solicits tools, technologies and capabilities to facilitate assessment of new vehicle designs and their potential performance characteristics' and as specifically called out under Topic A1.05 Physics-Based Computational Tools - Stability and Control/High Lift Design Tools, the 'definition of handling qualities for unmanned aerial systems.' Beyond these specific NASA goals, NASA issued in 2014 a new strategic vision for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD). From this effort came six new strategic thrusts. Of these thrusts, several involve the safe expansion of global air operations and are therefore directly related to the safe integration of UAS into the air space. The specific thrusts include 'safe, efficient growth in global operations,' 'real-time, system-wide safety assurance,' and 'assured autonomy for aviation transformation.' This proposal also supports NASA's Integrated Aviation Systems Program (IASP) of which the UAS Integration in the National Airspace System (NAS) Project is a direct application.
In describing the growing UAS market, Teal Group reported that the worldwide UAS market spending will increase from $6.4 billion in 2014 to $11.5 billion in 2024. The Teal Group article also states that 'Our 2014 UAV study calculates the UAV market at 89% military, 11% civil cumulative for the decade, with the numbers shifting to 86% military and 14% civil by the end of the 10-year forecast.' The STI-Mitchell Aerospace Research team sees a strong demand for the advancement of UAS handling qualities capability on the military side where the Air Force and Navy have long been looking for a path forward in this area. The team sees this demand expanding to the growing commercial market, particularly on the small UAS side, as the FAA continues to open up the NAS to new UAS applications over the coming months and years.