U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), Co-Chairs of the Senate Aerospace Caucus, introduced the Aeronautics Innovation Act 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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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. 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,” said Eric Fanning, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Industries Association.
“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. 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,” said Dr. Douglas O. Stanley, President and Executive Director, National Institute of Aerospace.
“The Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance (HRMFFA) writes in strong support of the Aeronautics Innovation Act. We encourage your colleagues to co-sponsor this necessary legislation to help increase economic growth, sustain national security and maintain America’s leadership in science and technology,” said Craig R. Quigley, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance
“Through our involvement in NASA’s Unmanned Traffic Management and UAS in the National Airspace System research programs, we’ve seen firsthand the value of NASA’s leadership in enabling the burgeoning UAS industry to move from innovation towards successful integration, and the tremendous dividends of strong public-private partnerships in this field. This bill helps ensure the continuation of the many NASA-led efforts that are rapidly advancing UAS integration––fueling growth in the UAS industry and supporting U.S. leadership in this critical and expanding sector,” said Mark Blanks, Director, Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership.
“I fully support The Aeronautics Innovation Act being introduced by Senators Warner and Moran, including the aeronautics funding augmentation it proposes. The future challenges posed by demonstrating sustained hypersonic flight, developing a viable commercial supersonic transport system and achieving routine autonomous aerial systems operations will benefit greatly from the knowledge base and technology developed by NASA Aeronautics. An increased NASA Aeronautics funding stream will sustain NASA technology development and assure that NASA expertise and facilities will be available to the industry and military for future national systems development programs,” said Delma C. Freeman, Jr., Chairman, NASA Aerospace Support Team, Retired Director NASA Langley Research Center.
“As a key element of our overall mission in advocating for aerospace advancement within the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia AeroSpace Business Association (VASBA) is in full support of NASA’s New Aviation Horizons (NAH) Initiative which includes developing new X-planes that will be cleaner, faster and quieter. NASA has successfully demonstrated the value of X-planes in advancing flight technologies and aerospace engineering, and we strongly believe the NAH initiative will place Virginia at the forefront of the next generation of aircraft and air traffic management systems using advanced technologies and configurations. We believe that the NAH initiative and complementary investments efforts such as Senator Warner’s Aeronautics Innovation Act will offer tremendous opportunities to industry and universities throughout Virginia,” said Robert P. Fleishauer, Ph.D, PMP, President, Virginia Aerospace Business Association.
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), Unmanned Systems Association of Virginia (USAV), and the National Institute for Aviation Research.
Key provisions of the Aeronautics Innovation Act include:
- Authorizing robust funding levels for NASA’s Aeronautics directorate over the next five years: $790 million in FY 2019, $930 million in FY 2020, $974 million in FY 2021, $996 million in FY 2022, and $1.03 billion in FY 2023.
- 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.
- Affirming NASA’s key role in the long-term research in transformative aeronautics technologies.
- 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-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Bobby Scott (D-VA) and others in the House of Representatives.
The full text of the Senate bill can be found here.