Aerospace: Soaring to New Heights
Record-breaking sales and a trend toward globalization are lifting the aerospace industry above the unstable economic environment.
John Bell (Jun/Jul 08)
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Looking to the Future
The AIA says its overarching platform, particularly in this presidential election year, is that American's future depends on maintaining space leadership, and has several policy "planks" related to that theme:
• Modernize the nation's export control system to build interoperability, capability, and defense cooperation with friends and allies.
• Ensure that global aerospace trade is conducted fairly, securely, ethically, and transparently without market-distorting interventions that impair competitiveness.
• Ensure economic competitiveness and world leadership through robust investment in research and development.
• Develop a highly skilled, stable, secure, and renewable aerospace work force to ensure America's national security and economic prosperity.
• Develop a 21st-century acquisition process that gives our military personnel the best equipment at the best value for the taxpayer.
• Strengthen the responsiveness and capability of U.S. national security space programs.
• Transport people and goods with increasing safety, security, and efficiency while eliminating infrastructure constraints to economic growth.
• Ensure a national consensus to adequately fund national defense as a high and enduring priority.
• Ensure environmental standards and policies that are global in development and application.
• Increase U.S. government financial and policy support for civil and commercial space projects.
On the issue of aerospace talent, AIA's Chadwick concedes that there's a looming shortage of personnel. The AIA is trying to get on top of it before it becomes a critical problem by "growing its own" young scientists and engineers.
Offering advice to economic developers on how to attract aerospace, Chadwick points out that existing pools of experienced aerospace workers are a must. "Just to have a willing work force is not enough. Many aerospace jobs are highly skilled and require years of training. The aerospace industry is very capital intensive, and as a result firms tend to build on existing facilities."
Pro-aerospace legislation is another important avenue. The state of Washington, for example, is building on its leadership status in aerospace by authorizing tax breaks for aerospace-related industries, particularly for those in engineering, design and repair that haven't received such benefits before. The legislation, scheduled to go into effect this July 1st, will directly benefit such firms as Absolute Aviation Services, a Spokane-based repair firm, and the engineering design firm PCSI Design of Bothell.