Bill to expand research into accessible air travel set to benefit Wichita State

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Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 12:25 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A bill to expand research into accessible air travel that would benefit Wichita State University’s Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) says he joined Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to introduce legislation that would invest federal resources into the Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence which was formed by Wichita State University and the University of Washington.

“Our universities are necessary partners and pivotal contributors to aviation safety research,” said Moran, Ranking Member of the Commerce Aviation Subcommittee. “As the aviation industry continues to evolve, this legislation will help make certain the Joint Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials can continue identifying solutions for advanced structures and materials issues while meeting the demands of a changing ecosystem to ensure that any passenger who chooses to fly can do so and in a safe manner. I am pleased this legislation will continue to support and invest in the important research conducted at Wichita State University in the Air Capital of the World.”

Moran noted that the Joint Center for Excellence for Advanced Materials and Safety Act would broaden the scope of research to include testing for accessible air travel for those with disabilities - including in-cabin wheelchair users and passengers with mobility challenges. This would also increase federal resources for the consortium to accommodate additional capabilities.

“Continuing the mission of FAA’s Joint Centers of Excellence for Advanced Materials is critical to advancing U.S. leadership in advanced materials and composites that will make planes lighter, safer, and more fuel-efficient. Extending the Centers’ research to advance the safe use of wheelchair restraint systems and personal wheelchairs in flight is key to improving the passenger experience for individuals with disabilities,” said Cantwell, Chair of the Commerce Committee. “With this bill, Senator Moran and I will continue investing in collaborative research between the University of Washington and Wichita State University to make air travel safer and more accessible for all passengers.”

The Senator said the bill would also strengthen the centers’ research into advanced aerospace technology like carbon fiber polymers, thermoplastic composites and additive manufacturing. The research also supports innovative future commercial aircraft designs.

“As the aerospace industry continues to advance, the need for high-performance materials is more critical than ever and Wichita State University strongly supports the continuation of the FAA Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials,” said John Tomblin, WSU senior V.P. for Industry and Defense Programs and director of the Center of Excellence for Composites and Advanced Materials (CECAM). “At the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), we recognize the importance of investing in the development and testing of advanced materials to ensure the safety and sustainability of all aircraft and passengers. That’s why we proudly support the FAA Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials and its critical role in identifying, adopting, and testing the next generation of advanced materials. We’re also proud to support the expansion of this center and the Aviation Safety Act and its goals, such as identifying cost-efficient options for wheelchair space on commercial aircraft while ensuring safety for all passengers. We at NIAR, and the South-Central Kansas region, applaud Senator Moran for his efforts and continued support to ensure the safety and accessibility of our skies and for being an advocate for our economy by promoting research and workforce development in advanced materials for aerospace and the expanded focus on accessibility to travel for individuals with disabilities.”

For more information or to read the full text of the bill, click HERE.