NASA NFAC Transferred to US Air Force

Wednesday, February 22, 2006



In 2001, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that it was canceling its longtime funding of rotorcraft research. Through significant lobbying efforts by the rotorcraft community, led by then-American Helicopter Society (AHS) Executive Director Rhett Flater, the US Congress restored the funding. In October 2003, however, NASA mothballed the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) — with its 40- by 80-foot and 80- by 120-foot cross-section wind tunnels — at its Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California.
Through prodigious lobby efforts by AHS and educational advocacy by Andy Kerr of the US Army Aeroflightdynamics Directorate (AFDD) at Ames, Congress authorized $5 million in fiscal 2005 and $14 million in fiscal 2006 to reopen the complex. The US Air Force signed a 25-year lease on Feb. 22, 2006 to reopen the NFAC, which it said to be "a critical national aerodynamic test capability used primarily for rotorcraft." NASA retains ownership of the facility while Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) operates the NFAC for the US Air Force. According to the lease agreement, “The Department of Defense (“DoD”) anticipates a future need for the NFAC in the areas of rotorcraft development, advanced rotor and vertical lift technology and verification/development of Computational Fluid Dynamics.”


"National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex set to reopen​," US Air Force press release, March 6, 2006.

"NFAC Is Back," Frank Colucci, Vertiflite, Fall 2007.



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