Aerospace Industry Responds to GAO Report

 - November 9, 2006, 6:17 AM

Following a review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the Final Report of the Commission on the Future of the Aerospace Industry, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said it agrees with the GAO that challenges remain in addressing the recommendations.

“The GAO report recognized the progress NASA has made in the space sector of the industry with the establishment of a national vision to return humans to the moon with the eventual destination of Mars,” said AIA president and CEO John Douglass, who was a member of the commission. “However, as the GAO report points out, restructuring of NASA to support the space vision is threatening the vitality of the aerospace industry with drastic cuts in aeronautics funding, which has plummeted by 40 percent since 1994.”

AIA said that continued erosion of aeronautics funding will affect the ability of the nation to build the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS), thereby affecting the competitiveness of the U.S. aerospace industry. AIA believes NASA’s budget should be more robust to allow the agency to accomplish all the activities in its portfolio: space exploration and science and aeronautics research.

Douglass said AIA supports the conclusion of the GAO’s report, first noted by the aerospace commission, that insufficient coordination exists among federal agencies with the mission of promoting science and engineering education programs. This fact emphasizes the need for Congress to complete action this year on H.R.758, a bipartisan bill that creates an inter-agency taskforce on aerospace workforce revitalization, he added.

According to Douglass, former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta and FAA Administrator Marion Blakey deserve credit for their initiative to implement recommendations affecting the civil sector of the industry. Chief of these, he said, is the formation of the Joint Planning and Development Office to facilitate development of the NGATS.