In 2012, the FAA selected six universities to form a new Center of Excellence for General Aviation called the Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility and Sustainability (PEGASAS). Florida Institute of Technology is one of the six core members of the group.
PEGASAS is “comprised of world-renowned universities and institutes with top-tier aviation programs as well as highly respected schools of engineering, science and policy. The mission of the center is to provide the FAA with a national network of researchers, educators and industry leaders to address a broad spectrum of general aviation issues,” according to a statement from Florida Tech.
What does this mean for Florida Tech? According to Dr. Stephen Cusick, Director of the FAA Center of Excellence for General Aviation (PEGASAS) at Florida Tech’s College of Aeronautics, it demonstrates Florida Tech’s leadership in the aviation space.
“If someone earns a degree from Florida Tech, they’re earning a degree from a world leader in aviation safety and aviation education. People recognize that around the world, and our partnership further enhances the value of their Florida Tech degree.”
The partnership also provides Florida Tech with the resources to conduct aviation research in collaboration with the other core university members, says Dr. Cusick.
“As the director, I coordinate the research at Florida Tech and work with colleagues of these other universities to set up research teams. We receive direct contracts and grants from the government, and then we disburse the funds to our graduate students and our professors to do the research.”
One area of focus in the research is runway safety, specifically runway incursion. Through PEGASAS, Florida Tech was selected to participate in several aviation research studies on how to decrease runway incursion, according to the Florida Tech research blog. Runway incursion is when a plane, vehicle, or anything else is on the runway without permission.
“Runway incursion is a critical safety factor for the FAA, and we had several professors working on various aspects of runway safety. In fact, we hosted a runway safety seminar for the government at the FAA research headquarters in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Runway safety is a major research focus for us,” said Dr. Cusick.
Runway safety research is just a component of how the PEGASAS distinction makes an impact on the College of Aeronautics. For example, Florida Tech recently won first place in the Airport Cooperative Research Program’s University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs. The Florida Tech team, led by Dr. Deborah Carstens, had a design titled “Airport Runway Incursion Preventative System” that focused on using pressure plates and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) to signal air traffic controllers to approaching runway incursions.
The overall goal, Dr. Cusick says, is to improve aviation safety and continue Florida Tech’s legacy as a worldwide aviation leader.
“We share our research with the public and with scholars. People around the world cite our research and publications, and I think it’s a wonderful legacy for Florida Tech.”
To learn more about PEGASAS at Florida Tech, click here.