Air Transport World

Congress must carry the ball; if the U.S. is to maintain its leadership in aerospace technology, Congress must act now.

Early establishment of United States' short and long-term aerospace research and development goals is of major concern to the U.S. aerospace industry and of equal interest among the couintry's major competitive nations.

There will be much discussion--pro and con--relative to U.S. intentions or lack of them at the United Kingdom's 1984 Farnborough air show next month.

Prime areas of probing and speculation generally center on possible long-term actions of the U.S. in aeronautics--what it has up its sleeve for the late 1990s and early 21st century time period.

Or, observers wonder if the current lack of concise, firm policies forecast continuation of present patchwork efforts for the future.

Most U.S. aerospace officials--industry and government alike--would like to know the answers soon, saying that too much time has been lost already. They are concerned that further delay will do the nation irreparable harm in the next 15 to 20 years, especially where competing nations are gaining a technological edge.

Forward-looking members of Congress are also worried. Representative Dan Glickman (D-Kan.), chairman, and fellow members of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Transportation, Aviation and Materials are dedicated to the aeronautic industry development and are highly critical of the administration's lack of foresight and push in this arena.

Rep. Glickman says, "We must be making the necessary investments in aeronautical research and technology now to stay ahead of potential military adversaries and other national competitors on the commercial side.

"Unfortunately," he opined, "recent actions by NASA and other (related) groups don't measure up to these important goals." In resignation he said, "We have succumbed to technical stagnation. . . . We are too busy optimizing the technology of the 1950s rather than exploring bold new areas."

Other lawmakers join him in feeling that NASA's quarter-century concentration on space flight has short-changed U.S. leadership in aeronautics.

In fairness to NASA it is noted that the administrations since 1970 made drastic cuts in NASA's research activities and sliced the payroll from 32,000 to 22,000 employes--today's level. …

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