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Douglass: R&D Report Should be a Wake-Up Call to Congress

Press Release From: Aerospace Industries Association
Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2005

A comprehensive report on U.S. aeronautics research and development is a stark signal that elected officials must invest more money in technical advancements, AIA President and CEO John Douglass said.

The alternative is conceding dominance in aerospace to Europe and the rest of the world, a choice the U.S. cannot afford for national defense reasons as well as economics, Douglass said.

"This report is a wake-up call that the warnings we have been sounding are not just talk," Douglass said. "Our elected leaders in Congress should heed the conclusions in this report and consider that their constituents are in danger of losing their jobs, if not their security."

The National Institute of Aerospace prepared the report, titled "Responding to the Call: Aviation Plan for American Leadership," for NASA to document the consequences of falling aeronautics research funding.

The report calls for annual increases averaging $885.5 million to NASA's budget for the next five years to return research and development to where it was in 1998 in constant dollars. The total aeronautics R&D budget for fiscal 2005 is $906 million, and the administration's proposed budget for next year asks for $54 million less. AIA and other aerospace leaders have been warning Congress that aeronautics research is dangerously underfunded.

Douglass noted that the NIA report is consistent with the recommendations of the 2003 Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry report. Douglass acknowledged that Congress is grappling with budget constraints, but he said it is vital the U.S. invest in aerospace now before Europe and others get too far ahead in new technologies. Aerospace has the largest foreign trade surplus in the U.S. economy, exporting $31 billion more than it imports.

The executive summary of the report is available on the NIA web site at http://www.nianet.org/nianews/pdfs/AviationPlan_execsum.pdf

Founded in 1919, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) is the premier trade association representing the nation's manufacturers of commercial, military and business aircraft, helicopters, aircraft engines, missiles, spacecraft, materiels, and related components and equipment.

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