Federal programs to develop short-haul air transportation systems have been attempted to meet the problems of airport congestion. Plans were drafted for coordinated action by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) but were never adopted. NASA and the Air Force are pursuing separate programs costing about $430 million to develop and test short takeoff and landing aircraft. Each agency is pursuing its program based on its own perception and none of the agencies is attempting to assess the needs for commercially acceptable operations. Although there is no agreement on future applications, short takeoff and landing technology is needed for future options. FAA and NASA should assess factors influencing future development; establish priorities for programs based on anticipated market conditions; and reassess federal programs for improving short-haul transportation.
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