– Legislation would provide resources for research and development
and improve coordination among agencies-

WASHINGTON, DC – Emphasizing the impact on national security and economic stability, Senators Chris Dodd, D-CT, and George Allen, R-VA, have introduced legislation that would establish comprehensive goals to strengthen America’s aeronautics and aviation research and development (R&D) abilities and maintain America’s competitive leadership in aviation.

“Our aviation industry has soared to great heights. Needless to say this is absolutely not the time to ground its limitless potential,” said Dodd. “This measure helps secure America’s place as a leader in aeronautics and aviation, and in doing so, encourages innovation, creates jobs, and makes our nation more secure.”

“America is losing our momentum in aeronautic research, development and applications of these advancements. Aeronautics as an industry is a net exporter for the United States. Losing these jobs and our competitive advantage would harm our economy and our military capabilities,” said Allen. “We must pursue policies that address the challenges to America’s once-leading position in aeronautic technology.”

The United States has traditionally dominated the aircraft industry, but over the past decade, funding for NASA’s aeronautics R&D program has been cut in half and the number of U.S. graduates in aerospace engineering and related fields has dropped by 57 percent at the bachelor’s level and 39 percent at the master’s level, while the current workforce is aging and retiring. Today, America controls less than 50 percent of the global market in the commercial aircraft industry.

The Aeronautics Research and Development Revitalization Act of 2002 will help NASA coordinate their efforts on developing new technologies with DOD, DoT, the FAA, academia, and industry. The legislation would also benefit both military and commercial aviation by assisting R&D that would result in a more efficient air-traffic control system, better communications, and stringent safety and security standards. Dodd and Allen’s bill reverses the trend of declining Federal investments in aeronautics and aviation R&D by doubling funding over five years and provides resources to universities to develop training methods for new technologies and scholarships for engineering graduate students studying aeronautics.

Provisions of the legislation are expected to be considered by the Senate Committee on Commerce today. Congressman John Larson (D-CT-1) and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) have introduced companion legislation, H.R. 4653, in the House of Representatives.