PARTNER—the Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction—completed its mission as an aviation cooperative research organization in December 2015. An FAA Center of Excellence, PARTNER was sponsored by the FAA, NASA, Transport Canada, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Established by the FAA in September 2003, PARTNER fostered breakthrough technological, operational, policy, and workforce advances for the betterment of mobility, economy, national security, and the environment. The organization's operational headquarters was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment; Professor Ian Waitz, Dean of the MIT School of Engineering, was the director. Similar work is now being conducted by ASCENT, a new FAA Center of Excellence co-led by MIT and Washington State University.

PARTNER comprised 12 universities, and approximately 50 advisory board members. One of PARTNER's greatest strengths was the advisory board's diversity and inclusiveness. Its members included aerospace manufacturers, airlines, airports, national, state and local government, professional and trade associations, non-governmental organizations and community groups. They united to foster collaboration and consensus to jointly advance environmental performance, efficiency, safety and security.

As an incentive to collaboration, equal matches were required for federal dollars granted to PARTNER. The universities provided some of these matching funds, but most were obtained from the organizations represented on the advisory board. This collaborative process fueled unique research efforts involving a wide spectrum of participants.

PARTNER research and activities included:

  • A landmark aviation and environment report to Congress proposing a national vision statement, and recommended actions
  • Successfully testing alternate descent patterns as a no/low-cost means to reduce aircraft landing noise, fuel consumption, and pollutant emissions
  • Extensive research into different aspects of alternative fuels for aircraft and their environmental impacts
  • Three significant measurement campaigns at U.S. airports to assess and understand the formation of particulate matter from aircraft
  • Collaborating with NASA and industry studying noise acceptability of supersonic flight over land
  • Examining land use, noise, and local development dynamics related to airport encroachment
  • Assessment of the human health and welfare risks of aviation noise, air quality, and climate change impacts
  • Development of aircraft and air transportation system simulations to assess policies, technologies and operational options for enabling environmentally responsible air transportation growth
  • Online resource development to better inform the public about aircraft noise issues