Note: this letter appeared as a 1/4 page paid advertisement in the 27 March 2001 edition of the Washington Post

A Letter to the President

President George W. Bush

The White House

Dear Mr. President:

Aeronautical research in this country is in crisis. Under the ten year leadership of Dan
Goldin, NASA’s aeronautical research programs have been scaled back to the point of non-existence.
A case in point – the NASA Administrator’s plan to eliminate ALL funding for
rotorcraft research and technology in the FY 02 budget. We believe this represents a
precarious leap in the wrong direction and respectfully urge you to reverse this decision for
the following reasons:

Helicopters save lives – every day. These unique machines pick injured people off roads,
save them from sinking ships, pluck them from burning buildings and capture them from
raging floods. Rotorcraft, including helicopters and tiltrotors, perform widespread critical
public service operations including search and rescue, law enforcement, resource development
and priority transportation. More than 3 million people owe their lives to the special
characteristics of these aircraft.

While millions of us experience the woeful conditions of our crowded air transportation
system, research shows that runway-independent VTOL (vertical take-off and landing)
aircraft can be a major factor in alleviating airport congestion and delays. For example, a
recent FAA study shows that operations of runway-independent aircraft for short-haul
flights could achieve a whopping two-thirds reduction in the ground delays projected for
a busy Newark Airport in 2017. That kind of improvement can be replicated across the

The national rotorcraft technology base supports critical military needs for improved
mobility. Recognizing that many technologies are applicable to both military and civil
rotorcraft, the U.S. Army and NASA have had an agreement, since 1965, to share 50/50 in
supporting rotorcraft research at NASA Ames, Glenn and Langley Research Centers. The
Army and industry also each match funding for the National Rotorcraft Technology Center,
providing four-to-one leveraging for NASA investment in a program widely regarded as a
model for government-industry-academia partnerships. Take that 2002 funding away and
the Army will in all probability withdraw its support, these programs will be terminated
and hundreds of vertical flight professionals will be lost to this industry – a “brain drain” of
proportions unprecedented in the history of the community.

There is a compelling need for rotorcraft research. NASA’s role has always been to
conduct high-risk, long-term research that will enable the introduction of new aeronautical
technologies or products. And while the U.S. Government support for aeronautical
research is declining, the European Union (EU) recently emerged with its plan, “European
Aeronautics: A Vision for 2020” that points to intensified EU support of aeronautical

The practical effect of eliminating all funding for rotorcraft technology will be (1) to deny
the rotorcraft industry access to NASA wind tunnels and other national facilities, (2)
severely limit rotorcraft potential to reduce transportation congestion and delays and
reduce door-to-door transportation time and perform life-saving public service, and (3) terminate

model research partnerships such as the Army/NASA Joint Agreement and NRTC.
The rotorcraft industry is important to the U.S. economy. During 2000, Bell, Boeing and
Sikorsky generated more than $5.5 billion in annual revenues, employing more than
24,000 people. U.S. helicopter industry exports in 2000 exceeded $764 million, providing
a net contribution to the current account trade balance of $274.6 million. For these reasons,
we urgently ask you to restore NASA funding for rotorcraft research and technology.

Very truly yours,

M.E. Rhett Flater

Executive Director

American Helicopter Society International

217 N. Washington Street • Alexandria, VA 22314-2538 • 703 684-6777 • Fax 703 739-9279 • Email: