AIA’s Blakey makes the case to include “Promote” in FAA’s Mission

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TESTIMONY: The U.S. Aviation Industry And Jobs: Keeping American Manufacturing Competitive

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The US Senate’ Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation recently held a hearing on the Competitiveness of the US Aerospace Industry. President and CEO of AIA, Marion Blakey, addressed that body on behalf of her civil aviation members.

Her testimony was accompanied by the AIA Member, Dennis Muilenburg, vice chairman, president and chief operating officer of Boeing . His presentation talked a little about Boeing, exports, the foreign competitive landscape, a WTO ruling and the ExIm Bank.

The former FAA Administrator, in her testimony, expressed her frustration with the current state of that organization’s funding. To prove her point, she cited Sequestration’s impact on the evolving and exponentially exploding UAS industry. In her opinion the limited human resources will likely retard the issuance of the regulations needed to define that business.

She also touched on environmental, tax, exports, workforce/STEM and the ExIm Bank, too.

Perhaps the most interesting point of her speech was her highlighting of the deletion of the word “promote” from the Act which authorizes the FAA. The 1996 Public Law 104-264, § 401 at page 42, struck that word based on the mistaken belief that the agency staff was out selling US products overseas. In fact the “promote” verb was directed at “civil aeronautics and safety” as objects of that directed activity. The US’ approach to regulations is different from the French, for example, and under the old language, 49 USC § 40104, it was fair to argue at ICAO or other international forums that the FAA concept was better. This amendment could result in the deletion of such an argument before other Civil Aviation Authorities. That is bad for the US and the world.

The notion that there were instances in which a representative of the US government said that to a foreign customer, “buy Boeing”, is absurd. No one ever contemplated such an aggressive marketing action by an FAA employee.

Congress frequently complains that the Executive Branch does not listen. Ms. Blakey’s speech cites evidence that the administration may be too sensitive to direction. In response to the 1996 amendment, it is alleged

“..the agency’s refusal to endorse basic information about air traffic control equipment currently in use by the agency out of concern that this could be construed as “promotion”.

It is a fact that the FAA uses ATC equipment manufactured by a specific company and it is a matter of public record how well it performs. To not state such public facts demonstrates the sort of overly sensitive response to PL 104-264 § 401, which merits correction. The FAA should promote civil aeronautics and safety

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