Public Release: 

Navy researchers awarded for aircraft safety system

The Vice Admiral Harold G. Bowen Award for Patented Inventions

Office of Naval Research

Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Jay M. Cohen will present the Vice Admiral Harold G. Bowen Award for Patented Inventions to four Navy researchers in a ceremony at the Office of Naval Research on Thursday, December 15, 2005. The patent was awarded to Thomas Anderson, Thomas Hanrahan, Charles W. Shaffer, and John (Jack) Schultz for their work on the embedded Terrain Awareness Warning System for Aircraft.

The four inventors work at the Naval Air Systems Command and were issued patent number 6,484,072 in 2002. The embedded Terrain Awareness Warning System (eTAWS) was designed to help avoid a phenomenon called "controlled flight into terrain," which has been the leading cause of Navy aircraft mishaps over the past ten years, and also accounts for many civilian crashes. These accidents occur when an airworthy aircraft under the control of the flight crew is flown unintentionally into terrain, obstacles or water when the crew somehow loses situational awareness.

eTAWS assesses an aircraft's status and alerts the pilot of an impending controlled flight into terrain, providing a visual and aural indication of what action should be taken to avoid potential loss of aircrew and craft. Within two years of the patent's award, technology derived from the eTAWS research by this team was credited with saving two F/A-18 aircraft and their crews.

The technology is now installed in more than 200 aircraft, with plans for installation in several hundred more. This safety system could reduce the Navy's current mishap rate of 0.36 per 100,000 F/A-18 flight hours, which translates to four aircraft. This equates to a cost avoidance of approximately $304 million in loss of aircraft alone, and would protect the Navy's defense readiness.


This award is named in honor of Vice Admiral Harold G. Bowen who was the first Chief of Naval Research. He was responsible for the establishment of a "grass roots" patent system within the Navy and instrumental in the statutory creation of the Office of Naval Research, which succeeded the administratively established Office of Research and Inventions.

The purpose of this award is to recognize the patented inventions of present or past Navy employees, civilian and military, that are of greatest benefit to the Navy. The extent of adoption for Navy use, the cost savings, increased military capability, or increased quality of life of Navy personnel resulting from the patented invention are all taken into account in determining which patents qualify for the award.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) manages science and technology research for the Navy and Marine Corps. ONR sponsors basic and applied research in oceanography, advanced materials, sensors, robotics, biomedical science and technology, electronics, surveillance, mathematics, manufacturing technology, information science, advanced combat systems, and technologies for ships, submarines, aircraft, and ground vehicles--and more.

For information about ONR's programs, go to

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