National R&D Policy Good First Step

 - January 25, 2007, 4:26 AM

Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) president and CEO John Douglass said the National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy released late last year includes the tools necessary to revive federal aeronautics programs, but it must be backed up with money.

“We are thankful that the administration has recognized the importance of aeronautics in strong and forceful language,” Douglass said. “The challenge now is to make the financial commitment match the policy.”

AIA called the new R&D policy encouraging because it addresses several issues, among them recognizing that aeronautics R&D is essential to America’s security and economy. However, it said the policy will be hollow if the recent trend of declining NASA aeronautics budgets continues.

The White House released the policy with an accompanying executive order that requires the Office of Science and Technology Policy to craft a detailed national aeronautics R&D plan to be submitted to the president in a year.

The policy was mandated by Congress, acting on its “grave concern” about a dramatic reduction in NASA’s aeronautics funding, which has dropped by more than 40 percent since 1994.

The executive order listed the need for federal support in developing advanced concepts for aircraft technology, air transportation management systems, maintaining research infrastructure and facilitating workforce education.