November is National Aviation History Month, commemorating U.S. contributions and achievements in the field of aviation. The U.S. has a long and accomplished history in the development of aviation, from early attempts at flight to today’s advanced spacecraft technology. The Wright brothers put Kitty Hawk, NC, on the map when they made the first controlled, sustained flight of a heavier-than-air aircraft in 1903 – even though their longest flight at the time was only 59 seconds. Less than 25 years later, Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo transatlantic flight in 1927, followed by Amelia Earhart, the first woman to complete the journey, in 1932. Aviation technology took a huge leap in 1978, when the U.S. Air Force developed the first electronic flight control system, kicking off an “Information Age” that still evolves today—where navigation, communication, and other aviation systems are automated with computers.
Many standards and guidance documents have supported the development of aviation technology over the years, with contributions to everything from commercial and military aircraft to spacecrafts and drones. Military aircraft are guided by SAE ARP 5796-2013, Flight Critical Control Valves, Military Aircraft, which provides guidance in the design, development, qualification test, process control, and production acceptance test for flight critical control valve (FCCV) design used in military flight control servoactuators. This Aerospace Recommended Practice (ARP) was developed by SAE International, a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The safety of commercial aircraft passengers is supported by ASSE 1098-2021, Performance Requirements for Atmospheric Vacuum Breakers for Vacuum Toilet Assemblies and Galley Waste Disposal Units on Commercial Aircraft. This American National Standard, developed by ANSI member and accredited standards developer ASSE International, guides devices to provide protection of the potable water supply against pollutants or contaminants that enter the system due to backsiphonage (backflow caused by negative pressure).
Travel beyond the earth’s atmosphere is supported by standards, too. AIAA S-114A-2020, Moving Mechanical Assemblies for Space and Launch Vehicles, specifies general requirements for the design, manufacture, quality control, testing, and storage of moving mechanical assemblies (MMAs) to be used on space and launch vehicles, applying to both the overall MMA and the mechanical components and instrumentation that are an integral part of these mechanical assemblies. The standard was developed by ANSI member and accredited standards developer the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, have brought a new era of aviation that benefits wide ranging areas of society from weather monitoring to firefighting, agriculture to delivery services, and more. ANSI, through its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Standardization Collaborative (UASSC), works to coordinate and accelerate the development of the standards and conformity assessment programs needed to facilitate the safe, mass integration of UAS into the national airspace system of the United States. In June 2021, UASSC published a Gaps Progress Report tracking efforts over the last year by standards developing organizations (SDOs) and others to address the gaps identified in the Standardization Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (version 2.0, June 2020).
Aviation has come a long way since the Wright Brothers became airborne, and many more developments are on the horizon thanks to the guidance of standards. Learn more about aviation for National Aviation History Month from history.com’s “History of Flight: Breakthroughs, Disasters and More.”