Aircraft

Research insights into aircraft selection and maintenance, crew training, test facilities, and airspace access are valuable to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and U.S. and allied air forces. RAND studies have also examined military air power and aerospace industry issues.

  • A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III taxis to its parking spot Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 25, 2012

    Commentary

    Peacetime Fuel 'Tankering' Could Save $25 Million Per Year

    Fuel tankering is carrying excess fuel on an aircraft when flying from origins where fuel is less expensive than at the destination. Tankering fuel to a conflict zone like Afghanistan is almost always cost-effective, but the story is more complex elsewhere due to how fuel is purchased and resold within the DoD itself.

    May 4, 2015

  • Senior Airmen Derek Wilson, foreground, and Noah Lazurka sample the fuel from a tank Feb. 11, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Laboratory technicians test all fuel upon receipt, and at various other scheduled intervals. Wilson and Lazurka are both 4th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels laboratory technicians

    Report

    Fuel Reduction for the Mobility Air Forces

    Reducing aviation fuel use is an ongoing goal for military and civil operators, and Air Mobility Command is feeling increasing pressure to further reduce fuel use by implementing and following known best practices.

    Mar 24, 2015

  • Report

    Fuel Reduction for the Mobility Air Forces: Executive Summary

    Reducing aviation fuel use is an ongoing goal for military and civil operators, and Air Mobility Command is feeling increasing pressure to further reduce fuel use by implementing and following known best practices.

    Mar 24, 2015

  • Report

    Enhancing the Assessment of the Costs and Benefits of International Pilot Training (IPT) Within the U.S. Air Force: Is It Worth It?

    Provides a perspective on valuing the total monetary cost and the operational monetary and nonmonetary benefits of international pilot training that have not been explored previously.

    Mar 18, 2015

  • A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor flying at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska

    Commentary

    Where Commonality Can Work in a Sixth-Gen Fighter

    The DoD plans to fund a Darpa-Air Force-Navy technology demonstration program aimed at developing critical sixth-generation fighter capabilities. It's a sign that the Pentagon is adopting a cost-effective strategy but it will need to remain vigilant to avoid the pitfalls that have caused previous joint fighter programs to fall short of hoped-for cost savings and to accept unwelcome design compromises.

    Mar 13, 2015

  • Afghan National Army commandos board an Afghan National Air Force MI-17 helicopter at a landing zone near Camp Lawton, in Herat province, Afghanistan

    Report

    Cost-Effective Helicopter Options for Partner Nations

    Department of Defense assistance to partner nations entails supporting helicopter fleets, often composed of outdated and difficult-to-service equipment. What is the cost-effectiveness of migrating partner nation fleets to alternative aircraft?

    Mar 2, 2015

  • Paratroopers perform an airborne training exercise

    Report

    Enhancing Army Airborne Forces

    U.S. Army airborne forces could play a pivotal role in key missions in the future, particularly against hybrid threats and in anti-access environments. However, they face serious threats that could become more severe. To overcome these new threats, the airborne force will need new capabilities.

    Jan 23, 2015

  • Report

    RAND Review: January-February 2015

    This issue of RAND Review reports on technology literacy in kids, self-driving cars, marijuana legalization, hacking and cybersecurity, monetary compensation for mass tragedies, and recent philanthropic gifts to RAND.

    Jan 12, 2015

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko visit the Russian Defense Ministry's control room, Moscow, December 23, 2014

    Commentary

    Yes, Russia's Military Is Getting More Aggressive

    As Russia's relations with the U.S. and Europe have deteriorated following Moscow's aggression in Ukraine, fly-bys of European neighbors by Russian aircraft have taken on new urgency. How should the West think about these provocative flights in light of understanding Russia's nuclear threat?

    Dec 31, 2014

  • Report

    Air Force Major Defense Acquisition Program Cost Growth Is Driven by Three Space Programs and the F-35A: Fiscal Year 2013 President's Budget Selected Acquisition Reports

    Analysis of weapon system acquisition programs showed that cost growth to date in four large-dollar programs must be contained to ensure the overall affordability of the Air Force's long-term investment plans.

    Dec 17, 2014

  • COMAC ARJ21 Chinese commercial passenger jet

    Testimony

    China’s Industrial Policies in Commercial Aviation Manufacturing

    Until recently, the Chinese aircraft manufacturing industry produced aircraft almost exclusively for its military. As China transitions to commercial aircraft production, does it need to rethink its investments and policies to become more globally integrated and competitive?

    Jul 31, 2014

  • A pro-Russian separatist at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in Ukraine's Donetsk region, July 17, 2014

    Commentary

    3 Weapons That Threaten Commercial Planes

    It's relatively rare that commercial aircraft are targeted with weapons built primarily to attack military aircraft, but there are a range of potential threats from such weapons. Given that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was reportedly at 33,000 feet when contact was lost, it seems impossible that the attack could have occurred using a shoulder-fired missile.

    Jul 18, 2014

  • Northrop Grumman test pilots with arm-mounted controllers after successfully launching a drone combat aircraft on the USS George H. W. Bush, May 14, 2013

    Commentary

    Will U.S. Air Power Work in Iraq?

    There are many key questions regarding deployment of U.S. air power to Iraq to halt the progress of the Islamic State. How effective would it be? Would it cause a lot of civilian casualties? Is air power alone enough to achieve U.S. objectives?

    Jun 18, 2014

  • 415 Superscooper aircraft

    Commentary

    Fighting Fires From Above

    A newly deployed airborne firefighting resource is helping the United States Forest Service (USFS) battle wildfires, while at the same time providing valuable lessons on the utility and cost effectiveness of water-dropping scooper aircraft.

    May 15, 2014

  • News Release

    China Faces Several Obstacles to Building Successful Domestic Commercial Aircraft Industry

    China's investment of billions of dollars in a domestic commercial aviation industry has yet to result in a commercially viable aircraft and is unlikely to do so for the foreseeable future.

    Apr 4, 2014

  • The testing platform for China's C919 jumbo jet, photo by Shanghai Daily - Imaginechina/AP

    Report

    China Faces Several Obstacles to Building Successful Domestic Commercial Aircraft Industry

    China's investment of billions of dollars in a domestic commercial aviation industry has yet to result in a commercially viable aircraft and is unlikely to do so for the foreseeable future.

    Apr 4, 2014

  • The Colorado River flows through Black Canyon, south of Hoover Dam

    Report

    RAND Review Examines Water Management, Military Caregivers, Joint Aircraft, Income Inequality

    Stories in RAND's flagship magazine discuss the implications of climate change for the Colorado River Basin and the Sierra Nevada, the burdens borne by military caregivers, the drawbacks of joint aircraft programs, and growing inequalities across the European Union.

    Apr 1, 2014

  • U.S. Navy F/A-18A Hornet, aka the Blue Angel

    Periodical

    Falling Short: Joint Aircraft Fail to Deliver Anticipated Savings

    A key purported benefit of joint aircraft is that they save money over separate aircraft for the military services, but joint aircraft programs have historically led to higher-than-expected lifecycle costs and necessitated major compromises in requirements and capability.

    Apr 1, 2014

  • congressional-podcast-teaser-highres

    Multimedia

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    In this March 28th Congressional Briefing, Mark Lorell discusses how the need to accommodate different service requirements into a single jet fighter design or common design family leads to increased program complexity and cost growth.

    Mar 28, 2014

  • F35s Diverging

    Research Brief

    The Department of Defense Should Avoid a Joint Acquisition Approach to Sixth-Generation Fighter

    Incorporating different service requirements in a single joint aircraft design can lead to greater program complexity, increased technical risk, and weight in excess of what an individual service needs.

    Jan 22, 2014