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Jim Albaugh, The Boeing Company President and CEO for Commercial Airplanes, and AIA Executive Committee member, gave a call to arms about U.S. leadership in the second century of flight at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars on September 18.
In his National Aerospace Week remarks, Albaugh stated, “Aerospace is more than an industry. It’s a force for good in the world. We help drive the global economy. We’re good stewards of the environment. We bring people together, connect our world, and promote an understanding of different cultures and points of view.” But Albaugh warned of threats to our aerospace leadership. “While other countries are investing aggressively in aerospace and defense, we are doing the opposite,” he said. “We are so focused on what to cut, we are forgetting how to grow.”
Albaugh addressed specific policies he thinks the United States needs to institute to keep its aerospace and defense sector in the forefront of leadership. First, he said America needs a strategy “to ensure the long-term viability of our defense industrial base.” Albaugh added, “I think that starts with identifying key enabling technologies and ensuring we keep design teams together, even if it’s at a low level to support them.” As part of this strategy he said the U.S. government “must ensure that we play by the same [trade] rules – on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific.” Second, he said our country needs to invest in research and development, noting, “wherever R&D goes, innovation and economic growth follow.” He noted with alarm that “U.S. government R&D as a percentage of our GDP has fallen by 60 percent since 1964,” and called for reinstating the U.S. R&D tax credit that expired last year.
Third, Albaugh said the United States needs to focus on the demographics of our workforce, and “attract tomorrow’s engineers by capturing their imagination and letting them be part of an exciting mission that will shape the future…just as my generation was drawn into aerospace by President Kennedy’s call to land a man on the moon.” Fourth, Albaugh stated growth in the aerospace industry can’t come at the expense of the environment. He noted that the commercial aviation industry’s goal of achieving carbon-neutral growth by 2020 and a significant reduction in CO2 emissions is validated by airline customers who worry about profitability and their environmental footprint, two factors that he said are both tied to fuel consumption. Finally, Albaugh pointed to NextGen implementation—“the interstate highway system of the sky”—as being the fourth great stride in transportation in his lifetime, after the highways, commercial air travel and GPS.
“Throughout my lifetime, the aerospace industry has improved our country and our world in countless ways,” Albaugh concluded. “The U.S. has led the pack – and we can continue to do that. But it’s going to take a commitment from all of us who care about sustaining American leadership.
AIA Source: edward.goldstein[at]aia-aerospace.org