By Courtney Kessler
The founder of Ohio University's Avionics Engineering Center has received a leading award in the field of aviation navigation.
Richard H. McFarland, director emeritus of the Avionics Engineering Center and professor emeritus of electrical engineering, received the President's Citation of Merit Award at the Air Traffic Controllers Association (ATCA) conference Monday in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes his more than 40 years of research and development in aircraft navigation and landing systems that have promoted air travel safety and dependability worldwide.
McFarland founded the Avionics Engineering Center, part of the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology, in 1963. It is now the largest center of its kind in the U.S., providing aviation solutions to the FAA, NASA and major international airports and industry leaders. Primarily based on navigation, communication and surveillance, the center's research helped develop mathematical models for predicting performance of the Instrument Landing System (ILS), which is today's main approach and landing system along with the Global Positioning System (GPS).
The award citation recognizes that such research shaped air travel as we know it. "Their pioneering work on vertical navigation associated with instrument landing and later on the early application of LORAN (long range navigation) and satellite navigation for civil aviation laid the ground work for the safety and dependability of the services we routinely rely on today," reads the citation.
McFarland said he was particularly proud of his work with students over the years. "I've had some outstanding students who have done a magnificent job bringing theory to practice with aircraft operations," he said.
The award citation detailed McFarland's educational legacy.
According to the award, "For more than 40 years, 'Doc' McFarland has been personally helping scientists, engineers, operators and policy makers to improve air safety while also mentoring and nurturing a legion of students and researchers who have magnified his contributions and spread them around the globe."
McFarland returned to Ohio University in 1962 after graduating with a bachelor's of science degree in mathematics in 1950. A fellow of IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), he is a member of several honor societies and associations, and has received leading honors from the FAA and other organization. In May, he was recognized as an honorary graduate of the Russ College and inducted into its academy of distinguished graduates.
He holds airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates and has more than 18,000 hours as pilot in command.