The Arnold Engineering
Development Center (AEDC) and the U.S. Air Force recently signed a
lease with NASA to reopen the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics
Complex (NFAC) located on NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett
Under the terms of a 25-year lease, NASA will retain ownership
of the facility while AEDC operates NFAC. NASA will provide general
support services such as building maintenance, fire protection, and
security. Technical support can also be provided under provisions
allowing the Air Force to purchase additional services as required.
The value of the lease is estimated to be between $2 million and $4
million per year, depending on workload and services required. The
initial term of the lease is six months, with a following 4
1/2-year primary term. The lease may be extended for four
additional 5-year terms.
AEDC will operate the facility as a separate operating location,
reporting directly to the AEDC commander at Arnold Air Force Base.
AEDC has successfully operated its Hypervelocity Tunnel 9 in Silver
Spring, Md., under the same arrangement for the last decade.
AEDC Operating Location 2 will be under the leadership of Col.
Vince Albert, former AEDC Vice Commander. The U.S. Army
Aeroflightdynamics Directorate of the Army's Aviation and Missile
Research, Development and Engineering Center will provide a
civilian deputy. An initial contractor work force of 30 personnel
will perform facility reactivation followed by operation of the
facility supporting test customers.
Congress authorized $5 million in fiscal year 2005 and $14
million in fiscal year 2006 to reopen NFAC, which is a critical
national aerodynamic test capability used primarily for rotorcraft.
Significant work is in progress to install a functional
instrumentation system and return NFAC systems to service. A
limited Initial Operational Capability may be achieved by fall
2006, depending on the extent of maintenance and repair actions
required. Full operational capability is expected in summer 2007.
The anticipated majority customer for the NFAC will be the U.S.
Army, as it was when the facility was open under NASA
"We are very pleased
that the NFAC will be re-opening," said Dr. Lisa Porter, associate
director of NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
"This facility is a national asset of critical importance for
aeronautics research, particularly rotorcraft research, and we
intend to collaborate with the U.S. Army in rotorcraft research in
the coming years."
NFAC was built in 1944 to support research in aerodynamics,
structural dynamics and acoustics. Research at NFAC will involve
using critical components (especially rotor blades) and, on
occasion, full-size aircraft, to focus on the aerodynamic
characteristics of new configurations with an emphasis on
validating design estimates.
NFAC has two test sections. One test section is 40 feet high by 80
feet wide and is capable of obtaining velocities up to 250 knots.
The other test section is 80 feet wide by 120 feet high and is
capable of obtaining velocities up to 80 knots.
NASA closed NFAC in 2003 due to budget pressures.