The 19-member Future of Aviation Advisory Committee concluded its work today here in Washington and presented 23 recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation to ensure the future vitality of the U.S. aviation industry.
Representatives from three major manufacturers — Boeing, Textron’s Cessna Aircraft and Goodrich Corporation –- offered critical leadership in keeping manufacturing and competitiveness issues at the fore. Emerging as welcome priorities were the acceleration of NextGen air traffic modernization and the need for new financing mechanisms for NextGen aircraft equipage. (NextGen is short for Next Generation Air Transportation System, the digitally integrated infrastructure system for pilots and air traffic control operations. For more, see the NAM’s fact sheet, “Expediting Air Traffic Modernization and Accelerating NextGen.”)
Other top recommendations included making the R&D tax credit permanent to support aerospace innovation, development of alternative fuels, and a stronger coordinated role for STEM education to cultivate a future aerospace workforce. Safety and safety standards were a unifying theme throughout today’s discussions, as well.
Looking ahead to a fresh start for the FAA reauthorization effort in the 112th Congress and an anticipated FY 2012 Obama Administration budget proposal in early February, the Advisory Committee provided a practical blueprint for Transportation Secretary LaHood (and the authorizers in Congress) to move in the next several months. Secretary LaHood declared the “recommendations will not sit on a shelf,” and the NAM will keep the manufacturers’ recommendations handy as we work for a comprehensive FAA reauthorization next year.
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