For over 100 years, the aerospace and defense industry has moved, connected, and secured the modern world, and since 1919, the Aerospace Industries Association has helped lead the way. From our role as the voice of the industry to our work inspiring the next generation of aerospace workers, AIA has played a vital role in shaping America’s outlook on aerospace and defense. As we celebrate our Centennial, take a look back at some of the most exciting and important events in the organization’s storied history.
1919 – Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce of America is incorporated in New York
In September 1919, the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce of America (ACCA), later known as the Aerospace Industries Association, is incorporated in New York, New York. Succeeding the Manufacturers Aircraft Association, the ACCA’s purpose was to promote and advance the interests of the U.S. aircraft industry and provide a common, neutral ground for its membership to discuss and resolve issues within the industry.
1921 – ACCA is formally organized
The ACCA is formally organized under a corporate governance structure which exists to this day: a Board of Governors, Executive Committee, and Office of the President. The founding membership was composed of 86 companies and 119 individual members. At the time, individuals who contributed to the industry in a substantive way were allowed membership into the organization as “Class C” members (this was later discontinued). It included inventors, designers, pilots, and research donors.
1928 – ACCA establishes the Aeronautical Expositions Corporation to manage air shows
The first air show organized under this newly formed subsidiary was the International Aeronautical Exposition of 1928. Today, AIA holds a presence at all major aviation aerospace trade shows and air shows.
1929 – Amelia Earhart becomes a member of ACCA
In the early years of its existence, ACCA offered personal membership to individuals. Aviation pioneer and explorer Amelia Earhart was one such member, joining in 1929. In 1932, AIA would host Earhart’s congratulatory dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in recognition of her solo flight across the Atlantic – a first for an aviatrix.
1938 – ACCA establishes the National Aircraft Standards Committee
To ensure industry standards for parts and manufacturing, ACCA establishes the National Aircraft Standards committee in 1938. The name would later become National Aerospace Standards to reflect the changing industry. In the years since, NAS has produced thousands of engineering standards for aircraft manufacturing and provided policy recommendations for other industry standards, such as the 2018 Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP) Initiative.
1945 – ACCA changes its name to the Aircraft Industries Association
Following the end of World War II, ACCA changes its name to “The Aircraft Industries Association of America.” This change was made to better represent the nature of its membership following the immense industrial and technological development that occurred during the war.
1945 – AIA publishes the first “Facts and Figures” compendium of industry statistics
Beginning in 1945, AIA begins publication of its Facts and Figures compendium. In an age before the internet, this veritable encyclopedia of industry statistics served as an invaluable resource to industry experts, legislators, and others interested in the health of the industry. Today, Fact and Figures lives on as a snapshot of broad aerospace and defense statistics and the vital impact of the industry.
1946 – With urging from AIA, Ex-Im Bank supports its first aircraft exports
1953 – AIA and ATA pay for the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s architectural study
AIA and the Air Transport Association split the cost of the $25,000 architectural survey for what would become the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. While Congress had established the museum through legislation years earlier, this survey allowed for federal funding to be allocated for the museum’s construction. The Air Transportation Association would later become Airlines for America.
1959 – AIA and MIT develop the APT programming language
Automatically Programmed Tool (APT) programming language, published as AIA standard NAS938 Machine Axis and Motion Nomenclature, quickly became the standard for automated machine tools in virtually every industry. It would also serve as the basis for the development of modern Computer Aided Manufacturing. Derivatives of APT are still used widely today in CNC (computer numerical control) mills and related machining applications.
1959 – Aircraft Industries Association changes its name to the Aerospace Industries Association
To reflect the growing space and missile industry sectors, the association changes its name to The Aerospace Industries Association of America.
1962 – AIA publishes “Women in Aeronautics,” highlighting the role of women in the industry
“Women in Aeronautics,” published in the fall of 1962, presents an account of women’s role in aviation (including a chapter on the careers and achievements of the Whirly-Girls).
1967 – AIA and Department of Commerce organize first U.S. Aerospace Pavilion at 1967 Paris Air Show
An AIA-organized industry steering group establishes the first U.S. national pavilion at the Paris Air Show. Since then, AIA has continued to organize the American industry presence at the internationally renowned Paris and Farnborough Air Shows (pictured is a scene from a more recent U.S. pavilion).
1982 – AIA’s NAS produces its first ever standard on robotics
National Aerospace Standards produces its first standard for robotics. Robotics are now an integral part of modern manufacturing processes.
1983 – AIA’s ATC works with FAA and NASA on new aircraft cabin fire safety requirements
1984 – AIA’s ATC conducts a space station study focused on international collaboration
AIA’s Aerospace Technical Committee (ATC) conducts a focused study on the potential for international space station collaboration. The findings of this report would be proven accurate with the establishment of the International Space Station 15 years later.
1987 – AIA publishes “Key Tech for the 1990s”
AIA identifies eight key technologies for the 1990s as part of the “Key Tech for the 1990s” program. They included: advanced composites; advanced sensors; airbreathing propulsion; rocket propulsion; artificial intelligence; computational science; optical information processing; software development; superconductivity; and ultrareliable electronic systems.
1989- First industry email server at AIA HQ
AIA successfully pushes for industry adoption of electronic mail. This was facilitated by AIA’s hosting of experimental email servers, which connected members through the backbone of the ARPANET. AIA’s experiences and recommendations were later adopted in the development of what we know today as the internet and email services.
1993 – An AIA initiative covering Industrial Security Reform becomes an Executive Order
January 8, 1993
President George H.W. Bush signs an executive order establishing the National Industrial Security Program, which AIA initiated with the government to replace more than 1,000 separate government security programs and 340 regulations with a single program.
1998 – AIA launches the Supplier Management Council
AIA launches the Supplier Management Council to provide a voice for members of the aerospace supply-chain and an outlet to develop solutions for issues surrounding customer-supplier relationships. Today, the Supplier Management Council is the largest internal AIA member body.
2003 – AIA and the National Association of Rocketry establish the Team American Rocketry Challenge
AIA and the National Association of Rocketry organize the first Team America Rocketry Challenge contest. It has become an annual celebration of amateur rocketry, inspiring many young people to pursue education in STEM and careers in aerospace fields.
2005 – FAA taps AIA’s NCAT to help develop NGATS/NextGen
Using the combined expertise and knowledge of AIA’s councils and committees, the FAA works closely with AIA’s National Centers for Advanced Technologies (NCAT) to develop the Next Generation Automated Test System (NGATS) and NextGen air traffic management system.
2012 – AIA launches the Second to None campaign to combat BCA/Sequestration
In response to sequestration and the Budget Control Act spending caps, AIA launches the Second to None campaign.
2018 – AIA releases its “Think Bigger” report, highlighting projections for future UAS development
February 27, 2018
AIA releases a comprehensive study on the potential uses and market viability of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). This forward thinking study lays out how autonomous vehicles are set to revolutionize our industry in the coming decades.
2018 – AIA announces the IRAP initiative
September 28, 2018
AIA develops an industry standard for internships and career pathways through its Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP). This program creates industry-wide standards for internships, apprenticeships, and other trainings with the ultimate goal of giving students high quality experiences and creating a talent pool for industry.
2018 – AIA collaborates with National Geographic on Project Mars
November 5, 2018
The Project Mars Competition, led by the SciArt Exchange and NASA, pushed artists across the world to share their vision for the future of humankind through short films or posters. The goal was to inspire the next generation of scientists and NASA commanders.
AIA hosted the winners of the film and poster competitions at National Geographic, where their work was displayed ahead of NatGeo’s Mars Season 2 premiere.
2019 – AIA celebrates its Centennial
March 10, 2019
AIA recognizes the past 100 years of its united industry voice. Looking forward to the future of aerospace, AIA launches Vision 2050; a broad review of the opportunities and challenges that our industry will see over the next thirty years.