WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) – co-chairs of the Senate Aerospace Caucus – introduced the Aeronautics Innovation Act (S. 2977) to help boost innovation, research and development in the aeronautics industry. The bill would provide a five-year funding commitment to advance innovation and supplement research in the field.
In 2016, the U.S. aerospace and defense industry produced more than 2.4 million jobs and generated more than $872 billion in revenue. However, without the proper strategy and investment, the U.S. risks falling behind other industrialized nations in developing and advancing the next generation of aircraft. Forecasts estimate that the world’s demand for passenger aircraft fleet above 100 seats will double over the next 20 years, generating new plane orders between 35,000 and 40,000 worth more than $5 trillion by 2035.
“The future of our aerospace industry depends on our investment in research, testing and manufacturing,” said Sen. Moran. “Kansas has demonstrated the significant impact a commitment to forward-thinking can have, and continues to play a prominent role in the national aerospace industry. Across the country, the industry is poised to make groundbreaking discoveries, perfect new technology and build better and more efficient aircraft. The investment that can be made by passing this legislation will make certain that our successes can continue into the next generation.”
“In order for the U.S. to boost its competitive edge in aeronautics, Congress must enact policies that invest in long-term research and development,” said Sen. Warner. “With countries across the globe looking to profit from record demand in the coming years for commercial aircraft, competition is fierce to lead the way in developing next-generation technology. This bill lays out a blueprint for how the U.S. can lead the world in a new age of manufacturing, where we can build the safest, quietest, most-fuel efficient and environmentally friendly planes available. Virginia is home to a thriving aerospace industry with leading federal facilities such as NASA Langley, and this bill will continue to support the nation’s next-generation capabilities in this important industry.”
“We applaud Senators Warner and Moran, the Senate Aerospace Caucus Co-Chairs, for championing the Aeronautics Innovation Act, which will provide continuity and budget stability for aeronautics research,” said Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Eric Fanning. “American industry partners are the leaders of innovation and need to maintain our competitive edge. If enacted, this legislation will boost our economy and protect our national security, ensuring American technological superiority in air and space.”
“We applaud Senators Moran and Warner for introducing this bill, which supports critical innovations and recognizes the importance of aviation manufacturing in the U.S., an industry that creates over 500,000 jobs and produces over $342 billion in economic activity,” said General Aviation Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pete Bunce. “This legislation will support research in new sectors of the industry, including electric propulsion, simplified air vehicle operation and increased vertical takeoffs and landings, as well as research efforts on unmanned aircraft systems and supersonic flight. These rapidly developing initiatives will allow for safer and more efficient aviation products, provide more high-quality engineering and manufacturing jobs, further contribute to the economy and keep the U.S. competitive in the global aviation market.”
“With recent advances in science and engineering, there are many emerging technologies that will accelerate the development of aerospace vehicle performance during the next decade,” said National Institute for Aviation Research Executive Director John Tomblin. “The investments outlined in the Aeronautics Innovation Act ensure that the strategic integration of these technologies will provide for the next major gains in vehicle performance and provide assurance of the US competitive advantage in the aerospace industry.”
“We applaud Sen. Moran and Sen. Warner for their leadership supporting efforts of the aerospace industry to design, industrialize and certify the next generation of aircraft,” said Spirit AeroSystems President and CEO Tom Gentile. “This aligns with Spirit’s strategy to provide commercial and defense customers with innovative, cutting-edge composite designs and manufacturing processes. We look forward to seeing this bill pass Congress to establish the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Program.”
“The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) is excited to support this important legislative initiative, which will ensure continued U.S. leadership in aeronautics amid increased worldwide competition and investments by other governments,” said National Institute of Aerospace President and Executive Director Dr. Douglas O. Stanley. “Aeronautics is a critical industry for our economy and national defense and represents a significant portion of our nation’s exports. The Aeronautics Innovation Act will not only increase our investments in aeronautics research but will also re-focus them on critical innovative growth areas such as: unmanned aerial systems, autonomy, urban air mobility, composite materials, as well as flight test vehicles to demonstrate these technologies so U.S. companies can then take advantage of them.”
The Senate bill is also endorsed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Small UAV Coalition, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Spirit AeroSystems and the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University.
Key provisions of the Aeronautics Innovation Act include:
- Authorizing robust funding levels for NASA’s Aeronautics directorate over the next five years.
- Ensuring sustained Congressional support for the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s (ARMD) Strategic Implementation Plan, a forward looking strategy that supports the future needs of aviation communities.
- Building on the success of NASA’s Advanced Composites Consortium to enhance public-private collaboration on transformative aeronautics research necessary to maintaining competitive advantages in aircraft manufacturing.
- Establishing a national policy for aeronautics research that will maintain U.S. superiority in air capabilities and aviation industrial leadership.
- Establishing a new series of experimental plane, or “X-Plane,” programs rooted in ARMD’s strategic plan that will restore NASA’s capacity to see legacy priority initiatives through to completion and achieve national economic and security objectives.
- Directing NASA’s continuing support of unmanned aircraft system development, particularly unmanned traffic management and on-demand mobility technologies.
- Creating the 21st Century Aeronautics Research Capabilities Initiative, a program designed to modernize NASA’s aeronautics facilities, such as wind tunnels and modeling & simulation capabilities.
This is the companion bill to bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Steve Knight (R-Calif.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and others in the House of Representatives.
The full text of the Senate bill can be found here.