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Structures & Propulsion Branch


David Atwood
Phone: (609) 485-4986

Administrative Contacts

Maria Paine
Phone: (609) 485-4304

Brenda Mullis
Phone: (609) 485-4136

Mission Statement

Develop scientific solutions to current and future air transportation challenges by conducting applied research and development in collaboration with industry, academia, and government.


Extend the Wright brother's legacy of research and development to ensure maximal safety, efficiency, and environmental stewardship for the air transportation system.


  • Agility — Expeditiously conduct and apply research to provide solutions to safety, efficiency, and environmental challenges.
  • Strategy — Develop and pursue a strategic research vision to identify and resolve issues before they emerge.
  • Leadership — Lead the world in applied research and development for air transportation system evolution.
  • Learning — Invest in employee growth and future generations of researchers and practitioners.
  • Integrity and Stewardship — Act as stewards for scientific integrity and rigor for the National Airspace System.

About the Branch

The Structures and Propulsion Branch conducts aviation research in the following areas: continued airworthiness/structural integrity, material science, advanced materials, structural safety, propulsion and fuel systems, aircraft catastrophic failure prevention, aircraft icing, alternative fuels for general aviation, electrical systems, and electric propulsion. This research enables new aircraft to be safer, more efficient and environmentally cleaner, while older aircraft can continue to operate safely.

Continued Airworthiness/Structural Integrity

The continued airworthiness program supports the improvement of aviation safety by preventing accidents and mitigating accident severity related to aircraft failures due to operational damage and degradation. The program pursues these goals by developing technical data, technologies, procedures, and performance models to fully understand the effects of aging and damage on the integrity of aircraft structures and systems. The program focuses on maintaining the integrity of fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft and structures and repairs as well as the continued safety of electrical systems and aircraft engines.

Material Science

The materials science program supports the improvement of aviation safety and certification efficiency by creating industry standards for both material properties of common materials and methods for determining properties for emerging materials. Metallic Materials Properties Development and Standardization (MMPDS) is the primary source of statistically-based design allowable properties for metallic materials and fasteners used in aerospace applications around the world. Produced in partnership with government, industry, and educational professionals experienced in the application and use of statistically-based properties, it is recognized by certifying agencies: including FAA, DoD and NASA. The Composite Materials Handbook-17 (CMH-17) provides information and guidance necessary to design and fabricate end items from composite materials. Its primary purpose is the standardization of engineering data development methodologies related to testing, data reduction, and data reporting of property data for current and emerging composite materials. In support of this objective, the handbook includes composite materials properties that meet specific data requirements.

Advanced Materials

The advanced materials research program supports the goal of improving aviation safety by investigating a broad spectrum of issues related to the use of composite and advanced materials in aircraft structures. These include fatigue and damage tolerance issues from in-flight hail and ground vehicle collisions, environmental and aging effects, and bonded joints and repairs. The program also develops safety awareness training for advanced composite materials and manufacturing processes.

Structural Safety

The focus of the structural safety research program is to develop or validate dynamic test methods, procedures, and means of analysis to meet crashworthiness regulations. The program helps ensure that new aircraft structures demonstrate levels of safety equivalent to existing aircraft structures when subjected to survivable crash conditions.

Propulsion and Fuel Systems

Research on advanced damage-tolerance and risk assessment methods and nondestructive evaluation practices that provide the basis for new or revised engine certification and continued airworthiness standards is conducted in the propulsion and fuel systems program. This research also supports preparation of advisory circulars that provide industry with technical information on acceptable means of compliance with regulations. Benefits will accrue in the form of a reduced risk of engine failures and fewer accidents, which in turn will lead to fewer injuries and fatalities.

Aircraft Catastrophic Failure Prevention

The aircraft catastrophic failure prevention research program develops data and methods for uncontained engine fragment impact and provides analytical tools for engine containment systems and for protecting identified critical systems that may need shielding from uncontained engine debris. Through the LS-DYNA Aerospace Users Group, FAA works with industry to establish standards for finite element analysis and guidance for use in support of aircraft engine certification. The program provides technical information to establish certification criteria for aircraft and support for certification of new technologies and supports development of Advisory Circulars that outline acceptable means of compliance in meeting regulatory mandates.

Aircraft Icing

The FAA's aircraft icing research program focuses on aircraft ground deicing and anti-icing methods prior to takeoff, engine compressor icing due to the ingestion of ice particles into the engine core, urban air mobility vehicle icing, and use of testing and analysis (computational fluid dynamics - CFD) for swept wing icing and supercooled large drop icing.

The clean aircraft concept, meant to ensure that aircraft are aerodynamically clean at takeoff, guides FAA policy for ground icing. The program conducts research to maintain safe winter ground operations, evaluate the effects of changing ground operations, develop testing and analyses methods to support these changes, and address the effects of technology changes in fluids used in deicing and anti-icing procedures.

Engine compressor icing research provides data and information used in the development of physical models that represent the trajectory, impact, adhesion, accretion, and release of ice crystal icing within a turbine engine compressor. This research will help ground test facilities comply with airworthiness standards.

Urban air mobility vehicles are an innovative approach to air transportation. They raise new challenges for ice protection and detection, which are being addressed through testing and analysis. There is a strong interest in industry in the use of analysis for design and certification of aircraft (certification by analysis). This motivates the program's research on the development, evaluation and validation of analysis methods, including CFD.

Alternative Fuels for General Aviation

The alternative fuels for general aviation (GA) program performs research to support the resolution of the number one issue facing general aviation today. That is to identify and qualify (through testing), a safe and suitable unleaded fuel before regulatory and/or market forces eliminate the availability of current leaded aviation gasoline. Researchers work closely with the general aviation community and provide supporting research to key industry professional organizations such as the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), the Coordinating Research Council, and ASTM International. These organizations include aircraft owner and pilot associations, user groups, airport associations, petroleum producers, fuel refiners, specialty chemical companies, engine manufacturers, aircraft manufacturers, aircraft component and systems manufacturers, experimental aircraft associations, universities, laboratory test facilities, and independent consultants. Research performed at the state-of-the-art laboratories supports FAA propulsion-related hardware certification and rule making, supports the development and modification of fuel specifications, evaluates the potential of novel liquid fuel components, and helps to insure a safe transition to more environmentally friendly fuels.

Electrical Systems and Electrical Propulsion

The electrical systems and electrical propulsion research programs perform research to further guidance and test methods for incorporating new and novel electrical technology into aircraft applications and its impact on aircraft electrical system architecture. An area of particular interest is in electrical energy storage for air taxis. Research will also identify acceptable test methods to quantify acceptable more electric power of various technology such as power sources for all electric and hybrids aircrafts, identify possible sources of energy and specific acceptable test methods to quantify acceptable more electric power of various technology, and identify possible specific applications for current and proposed aircraft systems and sub-systems.

Structures and Materials Staff
Staff Member Phone Number
Ed Weinstein, Manager 609-485-6431
John Bakuckas 609-485-4784
Curtis Davies 609-485-8758
Hank Marek 609-485-4868
Sohrob Mottaghi 609-485-5297
Ahmet Oztekin 609-485-6809
Lynn Pham 609-485-5789
Dave Stanley 609-485-4073
Danielle Stephens 609-485-4890
Kevin Stonaker 609-485-5379
Yongzhe Tian 609-485-5075
Propulsion and Aircraft Icing Staff
Staff Member Phone Number
Thomas Flournoy, Manager 609-485-5327
Daniel Cordasco 609-485-4970
Stephanie DiVito 609-485-7152
Chris Dumont 609-485-6663
Dave Galella 609-485-5784
James T. Riley 609-485-4144
Timothy G. Smith 609-485-4145
Warren Underwood 404-305-7267
Fuels and Energy Staff
Staff Member Phone Number
Mike Walz, Acting Manager 609-485-8493
Julian Canizales 609-485-6343
Jonathan Doyle 609-485-4987
Cunping Huang 609-485-6265
Jolea Russotto 609-485-6370
Nick Sinclair 609-485-5718
Jeff Warner 609-485-6597

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