In 1990 Public Law 101-508 (49 USC Section 44513) directed the Administrator of the FAA to create the Air Transportation Centers of Excellence (COE) program. The legislation mandated selection criteria which are used to evaluate proposals in support of COE solicitations. Through this legislation the Administrator has the authority to make grants to institutions of higher education to establish and operate regional Air Transportation Centers of Excellence.
Since its inception, the COE program has made a major commitment on the part of the FAA to support multi-year and multi-million dollar research efforts, ensuring coordination and innovation across the university teams that make up the various COEs. This investment has resulted in significant advancements in aviation science, technologies, and technology transfer.
The 13 COEs have included 92 core universities since the first grant award in 1993. Several universities have served on multiple COE teams. With their non-federal affiliates, COE partners have provided more than $345 million in matching contributions to augment FAA research grants. Through these long-term cost-sharing activities, the government and university-industry teams leveraged resources to advance the technological future of the nation's aviation industry. Additionally, students have gained hands-on experience applicable to the aviation and aerospace workplace, while producing more than 3,000 doctoral dissertations, theses, and journal articles.