NCAMP History - AGATE History
In recent years, NASA, industry and the FAA have worked together to help the aviation industry deliver more aircraft in less time by sharing central material qualification databases. This concept was first tested with the databases formed through the Advanced General Aviation Transport Experiments (AGATE), formed by NASA in 1995 and led by NIAR at WSU. The purpose of AGATE was to develop affordable new technology, industry standards and certification methods for general aviation aircraft.
Before AGATE, the traditional
approach to qualifying materials meant individual companies used "customized"
qualification programs, leading to detailed and expensive procedures for
each company. Costs increased further as other procedures were established
for structural testing, manufacturing control and repair. As a result,
most programs were limited to using materials previously qualified for
other programs, which led to using older, outdated material and not taking
advantage of the latest technology and material advances in the industry.
With the creation of AGATE, the AGATE Shared Database Process was formed. The shared databases created using the AGATE process allowed a manufacturer to select a pre-approved composite material system to fabricate parts through a smaller subset of testing for a specific application (known as equivalency). The materials accepted into these shared databases required that the raw materials be manufactured in accordance with process control documents and material specifications, which impose control of the key physical, chemical and mechanical properties of the material.
Through the joint collaboration
of two government agencies, NASA and FAA, AGATE was able to reduce the
time required for certification of new composite materials by a factor
of four and the cost of certification by a factor of 10. The timeline
below highlights the progress AGATE made, leading to NCAMP.