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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Representatives Steve Knight (CA-25) and Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) led a bipartisan effort on Friday to urge the President to invest in America’s aviation and air traffic management technology research and aerospace initiatives.  

In a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 31 Members of Congress, Knight and Kaptur made the case for increased federal funding for NASA and its aeronautics research programs. They point out that aerospace plays a vital role in the American economy. Commercial aviation alone contributes approximately $1.6 trillion to the national economy and supports about 11 million jobs, and the aerospace manufacturing sector employs 1.7 million highly skilled, well paid Americans, and generates $146 billion to the export economy. The global market will continue to grow, the Representatives write, and in order, to reap the benefits we must act before other countries leapfrog U.S. manufacturers’ capabilities.

“Over the next 17 years, the number of air passengers will double from 3.2 billion passengers to 7 billion worldwide. The market for new aircraft sales, parts, and services is projected to grow to $8 to 10 trillion,” the letter states. “Eyeing this opportunity, global leaders – China, Russia, France, and Japan – are investing billions of dollars into aeronautics research and development (R&D) to compete with U.S. companies.”

The letter argues that a commitment to NASA’s ongoing research and development programs is the key to developing and integrating the technology necessary to compete in the 21st century. Federal funding for this type of initiative has steadily fallen over the last several decades, and that needs to change for the U.S. to keep its edge.

“Along with NASA’s Journey to Mars, the cultivation of a dynamic commercial space industry, and the construction of telescopes to search for the origins of our universe, the first ‘A’ in NASA – Aeronautics – underpins all of our exploration of air and space,” Knight and Kaptur say in the correspondence. “It is shortsighted to withhold investments in the technologies that will generate great returns for America.”