The State of American Aviation
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Aviation.
Summary of Subject Matter
Shuster and LoBiondo Opening Statements
Subcommittee on Aviation Hearing on the State of American Aviation
December 12, 2013
(Remarks as Prepared)
Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA)
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
I want to thank Chairman LoBiondo for holding this hearing today and for his continued leadership on aviation.
I had the opportunity yesterday to speak to the International Aviation Club of Washington. My message yesterday was simple: aviation is important. It provides millions of American jobs and is responsible for over a trillion dollars in economic activity each year.
While I think our system is the best in the world, we have an obligation to improve it. The status quo is unacceptable – we need bold, innovative ideas. The only way to improve our system is to listen, and this hearing is the beginning of that process as we work toward the next FAA reauthorization. I want to put all ideas on the table and listen to input from everyone.
I recognize our system is unique, with more airports and commercial and general aviation activity than elsewhere in the world. But our ultimate goal should be to compare our system with other global aviation leaders and use what works best to ensure the American aviation industry remains economically viable, globally competitive, and most importantly, safe.
The next reauthorization bill shouldn’t be my vision, or Congress’ vision. It needs to be a collective vision that benefits everyone.
American ingenuity is second to none – we can have a more efficient, safe, and modern aviation system. We just need to work together and listen. If we do that, we can enact the next FAA reauthorization without another five-year delay and 23 extensions.
Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Subcommittee on Aviation
Today we are going to hear from representatives of the Department of Transportation and the various segments of the U.S. aviation industry—airports, airlines, labor, manufacturers, and general aviation—on the state of American aviation. This hearing is a good way to wind down the Subcommittee’s 2013 activities and begin to shift focus to 2014 and the next FAA Reauthorization bill.
The existing federal aviation law – the FAA Modernization and Reform Act – was enacted after five years and 23 short term extensions. It created a stable, four-year framework for the FAA and industry stakeholders. The Reform Act also made important reforms to the aviation system and to the FAA in order to increase efficiency and modernize the air traffic system. The goal was to maintain a safe, modern, and efficient civil aviation system now and into the future.
As I have said before, ensuring implementation of the Reform Act remains a top priority of the Subcommittee. This includes all of the ongoing work at the William J. Hughes Technical Center on important programs such as NextGen, unmanned aircraft systems, and critical FAA safety initiatives. But along with ensuring implementation of the Reform Act, we must also begin to look ahead to the next one.
It is an understatement to say that aviation is a key sector of the U.S. economy. Commercial aviation represents five percent of our gross domestic product and roughly ten million American jobs. General aviation (GA) contributes about $150 billion to the economy and supports roughly 1.2 million jobs. Commercial airports support over 10 million jobs and create annual payrolls of $365 billion.
Clearly, a healthy and safe aviation industry is good for the economy; it’s good for job creation; it’s good for passengers; and it’s good for all stakeholders.
The FAA forecasts long term aviation growth, resulting in increased air traffic. These forecasts highlight the need to modernize the air traffic control system, streamline certification and rulemaking processes, and ensure that the FAA is properly organized to oversee the NextGen program.
Additionally, foreign competition and ongoing funding challenges must also be addressed. We want to create an environment that allows for a healthy aviation industry while making sure that the United States remains the gold standard of aviation innovation and safety.
As Chairman Shuster indicated in his speech yesterday, in preparing for the next FAA reauthorization bill, we want to think big and hear from everyone. All ideas are welcome. We are all working toward the same goals – a healthy and innovative aviation industry that remains the world’s gold standard, a modern and efficient air traffic control system, and a productive and effectively organized Federal Aviation Administration.
Therefore, we look forward to hearing from each of the witnesses today regarding how they believe American aviation is doing right now, as well as any impediments to growth and ideas for the next reauthorization bill.
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