If Congress were to include the aviation sector in its economic stimulus packages, more than 40,000 high-paying jobs would be created, aviation safety would be improved, and there would be positive effects for the environment, according to a coalition of aviation organizations including such strange bedfellows as AOPA and the Air Transport Association.
The group of twelve organizations told leaders of the House and Senate that the industry’s proposals “not only would achieve short term economic stimulus goals, but would also lead to long-term efficiencies and economic growth. This is an investment we cannot afford to postpone.” The Dec. 10 letter was addressed to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
“Investing in the aviation infrastructure will put people to work,” AOPA President-elect Craig Fuller commented, concerning the letter. “There are hundreds of relatively low-cost projects pending at community airports across the country, ready to go. Investing in them could immediately help local communities, and encourage additional economic investment,” he said. “The … proposals included in the letter incorporate many of the ideas that AOPA discussed last week in a private meeting with President-elect Barack Obama’s transportation planning transition team,” Fuller concluded.
In addition to AOPA, the co-signers are the Aerospace Industries Association; the Air Transport Association; the Airport Consultants Council; Airports Council International-North America; the American Association of Airport Executives; the Cargo Airline Association; the General Aviation Manufacturers Association; the National Air Carrier Association; the National Business Aviation Association; the National Association of State Aviation Officials; and the Regional Airline Association.
The letter made six key proposals, including more funds for airport construction and incentives to aircraft owners and airlines to install equipment to take full advantage of the NextGen air traffic control system.
The group stated that about $3 billion should be spent quickly on NextGen infrastructure, which would reduce airline delays, improve aviation safety and reduce emissions. The letter’s signers also asked for $2.5 billion to support aircraft equipage, including ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) transceivers. That, they wrote, would “accelerate many of the economic and environmental benefits.”
“Approximately 20,000 aircraft could be so equipped, with this investment, generating high-paying … jobs in the high-tech fields of civil aviation manufacturing, flight operations, maintenance, and environment,” the letter stated.
The group proposed that the current Airport Improvement Program receive an additional $1 billion in funding, pointing out that there are more than 5,000 public-use airports in the United States, but only about 500 have commercial service.
“There are improvement projects that would increase the utility and safety of these vital airports that could go to contract within 30 days if the money were available,” Fuller commented, predicting that such infrastructure funding would create as many as 35,000 jobs.
Several changes to the tax code were suggested, intended to make airport bonds more attractive to investors, thus providing more money for construction; to help keep aircraft manufacturing production lines moving; and to encourage new aviation research and development.
Although the aviation industry is affected noticeably by the current economic downturn, “all forecasts point to robust growth in the civil aviation sector in the coming years,” the group said, backed by new forecast from JP Morgan Chase and other financial leaders.
“Investment in our aviation infrastructure will pay dividends for generations,” said Fuller.
The aviation industry, directly and indirectly, generates more than 10 million jobs and $1.2 trillion in annual economic activity, he said. That represents about 5.6% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
To read the letter, click here.