The Future Belongs to the Mobile
John Marburger, Director, Office of Science and Technology
Policy

Thank you for inviting me here today to
talk with you about the future of the aerospace industry. As you
know, I am the White House sponsor for your Commission, and Charlie Huettner
of my staff serves as your Executive Director. If there is anything
that we can do to help make your effort a success, please let us know.

The President strongly supports your effort.
The nation has depended on the aerospace industry for decades to ensure
that America leads the world in high technology, including the manufacturing
of military and commercial aircraft, satellites, space launch vehicles,
weapon systems and telecommunications systems. As a result, our military
is the best in the world, our economy has benefited from a positive aerospace
balance of trade, and our people and shippers have benefited from having
the best and safest aviation system in the world. The public has
also benefited from the numerous spin-offs from the aerospace industry,
including cellular telephones, precision farming, new medical devices,
improved weather forecasting, and hundreds of others.

The President wants to make sure that U.S.
aerospace leadership continues in the 21st Century. The critically
important tasks of this Commission are to help the President establish
the direction for the U.S. aerospace industry in this new century, and
to support national initiatives on education, defense, security, and energy.

This Commission is taking place at a landmark
period in our history. The events of September 11 require a national
response similar to that following the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957.
The President has clearly expressed our national determination that all
Americans, and indeed the world, will pursue their aspirations free from
the threat of global terrorism. The reprehensible terrorist assault
on two of our nation’s most important facilities have turned a dramatic
spotlight on weaknesses in our aerospace and air transportation systems.

Even prior to September 11th, however,
the United States faced serious challenges in these areas:

  • our air traffic system – based on 1960’s
    technology and management ideas – was approaching gridlock,

  • needed, but ever tightening environmental
    requirements on noise and emissions were limiting world-wide flight operations
    and creating international conflict,

  • our aerospace market leadership was
    being challenged as an explicit goal of foreign competitors,

  • and our country’s investments in long-term
    aeronautics and space research and development were shrinking rapidly,
    threatening a crisis in the industry’s ability to attracting trained and
    talented human capitol.

    We must ensure that the disruption of transportation
    and services that followed the events of September 11 does not recur.
    We need to develop a 21st Century global air transportation system that
    provides safe, secure, efficient and affordable transportation of people,
    goods and information in peacetime and wartime – enabling people and goods
    to move freely anywhere, anytime, on time. We need a system that:

  • Enhances national security by
    strengthening homeland defense while enabling the military to project power
    anywhere in the world at any time;

  • Increases U.S. economic competitiveness
    by building a more efficient, higher capacity air transportation system;
    and

  • Improves the quality of life
    of all Americans by enabling them to do what they want to do when and where
    they want to do it.

    We also need to re-invigorate an innovative
    aerospace industry that, with the appropriate incentives and investments,
    can develop such a system and sustain U.S. leadership in the 21st Century.

    It has never been clearer that our military’s
    capability must be the best in the world. As we saw in the Persian
    Gulf and Kosovo, and are seeing again today in Afghanistan, air superiority,
    airborne reconnaissance, airborne weapon delivery, and airborne personnel
    and logistics transport are crucial to our military’s success and national
    security. But as the events of September 11 showed, the air defenses
    within our nation are vulnerable to terrorist and other hostile actions.
    We must now re-double our efforts to eliminate the potential for any part
    of our aviation system being used as a threat to our homeland.

    The nation’s civil aviation system must
    also be the best in the world. Aviation is key to making the mobility
    promise of America available to everyone and to moving high-value goods
    quickly around the nation and the world. Productivity growth and
    our gross domestic product are directly related to efficient and growing
    air transportation.

    Nevertheless, commercial air transport
    is becoming less and less reliable, with frustrating and expensive delays.
    The gridlock I mentioned earlier is a sign that the current system cannot
    simply be scaled up to meet projected future growth, especially given the
    additional measures required to enhance its security. Airports and
    airplanes can have undesirable environmental side effects, such as noise
    and air pollution. Travelers have growing safety concerns.
    And although the events of September 11 have reduced the demand in civil
    aviation, this downturn will only be temporary.

    Any one of these issues alone would be
    cause for serious concern. Taken together – and we do not have the
    choice to ignore any one of them – they call for immediate and bold action.

    It is now clear that for too long, we have
    put off the development of policies, systems and technologies needed to
    solve these challenges. For too long, we have lacked the national
    leadership necessary to make these investments and guide them through to
    application.

    We can wait no longer.

    Improvements in homeland defense, national
    defense and civil aviation require the same core suite of technologies.
    We can enhance security while creating greater mobility for America.
    This is what this Administration wants and what our country needs.

    Today, I call for this Commission to
    help the President and the Congress define the steps necessary to develop
    a new air transportation system, a system that will not only enhance our
    national security at home and abroad but simultaneously provide a civil
    aviation system that will enable a new era of mobility for all our citizens,
    new business opportunities for our most imaginative entrepreneurs, and
    greater productivity for the entire nation.

    The necessity of this call to action is
    clear to see. But the strategy and design for its implementation
    is surely complex and needs the thoughtful analysis of this able Commission.

    I offer three strategic developments that
    I believe are necessary.

    1 – We need national
    leadership to develop an integrated global air transportation system that
    simultaneously meets our national defense, homeland security and civil
    aviation requirements. Today, that leadership is dispersed among
    many agencies and organizations that properly deal with the aviation community.
    In the Federal government, this includes the Department of Transportation’s
    Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, and the Departments of Defense,
    Commerce, and State. Often these departments and agencies deal with
    aviation-related issues independently, without prior coordination, and
    sometimes at cross-purposes to each other. All have separate authorizing
    and appropriating Congressional Committees. State and local governments
    also play important aviation development roles and private industry has
    numerous near-term competing forces that often prevent longer-term solutions
    in the national interest.

     

    We need strong leadership to understand
    these competing concerns, and then intelligently and decisively move ahead.
    I call upon the Commission to assess these needs and responsibilities and
    suggest how this National leadership might best be created.

    2 -The core of an integrated
    21st Century transportation system will be a common infrastructure of communications,
    navigation, and surveillance system design and operation. The aviation
    system needs an infrastructure that is secure and allows all classes of
    aircraft, from airlines to unpiloted vehicles to operate safely, securely,
    and efficiently from thousands of communities based on market size and
    demand. It also needs to be able to operate within a national air
    defense system and enable military and commercial aircraft to operate around
    the world in peacetime and in war.

    The communications, navigation and surveillance
    system that the civil aviation system uses today is not much different
    from that used in the 1960’s – ground based radar tracking, a reliance
    on voice radios, and overburdened air traffic controllers guiding growing
    numbers of individual aircraft throughout their flights. Not only
    does this system design not take advantage of new technological capabilities
    to increase its capacity, reliability, and efficiency, it is reaching its
    inherent scalability limits.

    We should be harnessing key technologies
    being developed by the Department of Defense, NASA, and private industry
    to enhance our homeland defense and civil aviation system. This includes
    high bandwidth satellite voice and data communications, precision navigation
    with GPS and necessary back-ups, global surveillance that continuously
    tracks both present aircraft position and updates a conflict-free flight
    path, technologies to vastly improve our short-term (2-6 hour) weather
    forecasts, digital terrain and airport data bases that create clear-day
    safety and efficiencies in any visibility condition, and new air transportation
    management systems that use the power of information technology to move
    vehicles with unprecedented efficiency, guaranteed safety, and immediate
    recognition of unauthorized deviations.

    I call upon the Commission to provide those
    organizational and technology investment strategies that will enable the
    development of this next-generation core capability.

    3. Finally, we
    need to create new management approaches and development processes in aerospace
    that foster and reward continuous innovation by industry, government, and
    academia. How can we re-invigorate the aerospace risk/reward payoff
    from the view of Wall Street?  What incentives can we provide to the
    Department of Defense, FAA, NASA, and industry to cooperate to aggressively
    develop and implement new technologies?  How can we attract a new
    generation of engineering students to the aerospace field?  Our current
    systems and practices are out of date and need to be revamped.

    I challenge the Commission to identify
    what changes are needed to best create a climate of innovation for aviation’s
    future.

    History has shown the power of a mobile
    society. Early in our history, President Jefferson opened our frontiers
    for a growing population to move westward by foot and wagon train.
    President Lincoln brought west and east closer together for transport and
    trade with the transcontinental railroad. President Eisenhower foresaw
    the emerging needs and vast future benefits of an interstate highway system
    linking the entire nation for automobile and truck transport and national
    defense. Rapid travel through the air has been the latest opportunity
    to efficiently link the country – and the world – together.

    My vision, proven by history, is this: 
    The Future Belongs to the Mobile.

    We need to unshackle our current air transportation
    system to allow America to lead that future.

    It is rare that such a landmark opportunity
    for effective government action presents itself. Now we have
    an opportunity to

    1. Improve our nation’s security
    2. Improve aviation security while addressing
      long-standing technical and organizational challenges restricting today’s
      aviation operations

    3. Provide not only a short term economic
      stimulus in a time of stagnating national economic growth, but a long term
      investment in the high value technologies and systems needed to expand
      the reliability, efficiency, and capacity of air transportation – a crucial
      pathway to national productivity increases.

    4. Support a critical sector of the economy
      hit by job losses and sales reductions

    5. Revitalize research and development
      in technologies that have historically provided spin-off applications and
      benefits to many other industries

    I call upon the Commission to exert
    itself to identify strategies that will successfully address the Nation’s
    interests. I pledge my support in this tremendously exciting and
    important endeavor.

    Thank you.