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.
Proposed funding cuts that could affect NASA’s ability to conduct aeronautics research–including work on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS)–continue to draw fire from lawmakers, aerospace officials and academia.
Michael Griffin reported to work late last month as the 11th administrator of NASA. By his own admission, Griffin will be “spending a good deal of my time reviewing our progress toward returning the space shuttle safely to flight,” so it remains to be seen if his experience as a flight instructor and instrument-rated multi-engine pilot will result in a renewed emphasis on aeronautics research.
NASA’s announcement last month that–effective from the start of FY06 on October 1 this year–it will cancel all further support of U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) development has sent a shock wave through the industry.
Congress Might Clip NASA’s Wings
NASA’s use of seven of its fleet of 85 aircraft to transport employees to routine site visits, meetings, speeches and conferences cost American taxpayers $20 million more than having space agency personnel fly on the airlines.
The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said that unless the U.S. is willing to concede aerospace dominance to Europe and the rest of the world the nation has to invest more money now in technical advancements.
NASA has charged the National Institute for Aviation Research, an aerospace research and development laboratory based in Wichita and associated with Wichita State University, with developing national standards for composite materials used in aircraft manufacturing.
Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has introduced the “Aeronautics Research and Development Revitalization Act of 2005” to reinvigorate the nation’s aeronautics research program. According to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), NASA aeronautics funding has declined over the past 12 fiscal years from a high of $1.54 billion in Fiscal Year 1994 to $852.3 million as requested in President Bush’s FY2006 budget.
Before it adjourned for its summer recess, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to authorize an extra $1.3 billion for NASA over the next two years to fund earlier cuts in aeronautics research.
NASA is restructuring its aeronautics research programs, including fundamental aeronautics, airspace systems, aviation safety and aeronautics testing. Among the goals of the restructuring are protecting and maintaining NASA’s key aeronautics research and test facilities as national assets.