Welcome from the Director
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory (RFRL), the premier manned and unmanned aviation research facility in the nation. Established in 1948, RFRL possesses a rich heritage in full-scale aircraft RDT&E, particularly in advanced flight test. RFRL’s rich history includes dozens of aviation “firsts,” particularly in the application of cutting-edge composite structures in aviation.
Today, RFRL’s focus is to perform advanced research, development, and testing of:
• Manned and Unmanned Aircraft
• Automated Flight Control Systems
• Aircraft Sub-Structures and Components
• Ground and Airborne Sensor Systems, including Detect and Avoid
• Ground and Maritime Robotics
MSU’s unique position as the only university that is both the FAA-designated lead for the national UAS Center of Excellence, and an FAA-designated UAS Test Site, provides unparalleled capability to conduct world-class research and comprehensive flight testing for unmanned aircraft, ground control systems, component systems, and key supporting technologies such as detect and avoid.
As the Executive Director of the ASSURE FAA UAS Center of Excellence, MSU leads a coalition of 22 of the finest aviation research universities in the world, conducting foundational research on groundbreaking technologies and processes that enable and enhance the ability of UAS to fly in the national airspace system. No one does more FAA-sponsored direct research than ASSURE, and no one can match MSU and RFRL’s capabilities on the UAS flight and integration issues that matter most.
MSU and RFRL also enjoy full FAA designation as an authorized UAS Test Site through our partnership in the Pan-Pacific UAS Test and Range Facility (PPUTRC). This designation allows RFRL to conduct flight test of experimental and prototype UAS under comprehensive, proven and FAA-approved flight and ground safety processes.
In addition to our flight RDT&E capabilities, RFRL also offers cutting-edge composite materials design, fabrication, prototyping, and low-rate initial production through the Marvin B. Dow Stitched Composites Development Center. Founded in 2017 as part of a research partnership with The Boeing Company, the Dow Center offers unique composite fabrication processes that allow unstressed forming, superior strength, and extraordinarily light weight. Thorough the Dow Center, RFRL can offer our research partners access to the cutting-edge technologies used by NASA, the military, and major aircraft manufacturers, at extremely competitive rates.
RFRL also regularly helps grow aviation-related companies and innovative technologies through our role as a technology incubator. RFRL has supported the development of key aviation and UAS technologies for several aerospace industries in the state (Aurora Flight Sciences, Stark Aerospace, American Eurocopter, and GE Aviation) by providing work areas, technical training, and access to other university assets.
Throughout our illustrious aviation history, RFRL has been dedicated to outstanding research programs, strategic alliances with industry and government, and close collaboration with academic units of the university. RASPET offers faculty, staff, students, industry, and government agencies a facility with experience and capability for composite fabrication, structural testing, UAS and component RDT&E, in-flight sensor evaluation, and flight test instrumentation and test assistance. On behalf of all of our faculty and staff, welcome to RFRL! We look forward to working with you to achieve your aviation goals.
Director, Raspet Flight Research Laboratory
Associate Director, ASSURE FAA UAS Center of Excellence