Cantwell Applauds Innovative Composite Research That Contributed to Boeing’s 787 Certification

Senator Visits FAA Center of Excellence at UW that Helped Address Safety and Certification Issues for Using Composites in Commercial Aircraft Such as the New Boeing 787

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) toured the University of Washington’s FAA Center of Excellence where research on advanced composite materials that contributed towards the successful certification of the Boeing 787 aircraft took place.

The work was done through The Center of Excellence (COE) for Advanced Materials in Transport Aircraft Structures (AMTAS). In 2003, Cantwell played a crucial role in crafting legislation that created AMTAS and in supporting the University of Washington’s bid to lead the Center. The current Senate passed FAA bill includes a Cantwell provision to extend the Center’s authorization.

Cantwell was joined on the tour byUW President Michael Young, UW professor Mark Tuttle, Director of the AMTAS; Randy Coggeshall, Senior Manager at Boeing Commercial Airplane; and Larry B. Ilcewicz, the FAA’s Regulation and Certification Chief Scientific Technical Advisor of Advanced Composite Materials.

“Just 7-and-a-half years ago I stood with the University to announce Washington state would host America’s first advanced materials research center for aviation,” said Cantwell. “We’re now seeing the fruits of that investment. Tomorrow in Everett, we will celebrate the FAA’s certification of the first passenger plane made primarily out of composites. The Center’s research efforts contributed towards successful certification of the Boeing 787. This Center serves as another example of Washington state’s innovative spirit and the job growth it brings.” 

The AMTAS is partnership between six universities, twelve companies, and the FAA. It is one of six active FAA Centers of Excellence around the country. AMTAS’ focus is on safety and certification initiatives for using composites and other advanced materials in large commercial aircraft. Projects performed by the Center are cost shared between the federal government, the Universities, and industry. AMTAS facilitates research, education, training, and technology transfer in advanced materials through holding conferences, workshops, seminars, and technical reviews. These projects provide research opportunities for students and also put them in contact with potential future employers.

“The success of AMTAS and the 787 reflects the uniquely American partnership among the federal government, our nation’s great research universities, and industry,” said UW President Michael K. Young. “The Northwest has been known for its leadership in aviation and aerospace, and there is a long list of University of Washington faculty and students who have played key roles in game-changing advances in the industry. This is another example of the role they play in moving the industry forward in an enormously successful partnership with the government and industry.”

Cantwell was instrumental in bringing the AMTAS research center to Washington state. In 2003, Cantwell worked with key Washington stakeholders and the FAA to craft language included in the FAA authorization bill to establish a new center for excellence for advanced materials in transport aircraft. When the FAA asked universities to compete for a chance at hosting the Center, she supported the University of Washington’s effort, leading to the announcement in December of 2003 that the new Center would be led by the UW.

Cantwell has also been a strong supporter of AMTAS’ projects to increase workforce education and training. A completed project led by Edmonds Community College   developed a syllabus and course material for designing a short course to instruct students in the maintenance of composite aircrafts.