The Aerospace Industry Association’s Dan Elwell testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure this week (press release, full text PDF), and called on Congress to fund NextGen investments through tax incentives as well as the Airport Improvement Program. Referring to the potential of NextGen technology to improve fuel efficiency, Elwell said:
At a time when congress is actively engaged in promoting economic recovery instruments and policies to protect our planet from global warming, robust investment in a single enterprise that will foster both is what we call a “no brainer.”
Elwell then went on to issue some specific requests:
1. Economic stimulus package funding increases for the Airport Improvement Program should include flexible eligibility for NextGen investments both on and off airside property. Funds to build taxiways and runways will create jobs in local districts and provide more room for aircraft, but without new NextGen approaches, new ground tracking systems, and ADS-B devices, growth at our airports will be restricted. [..]
2. One year extension of existing legislation granting accelerated depreciation for the purchase of new, environmentally friendly aircraft and the addition of new language to provide the same benefit for the purchase of commercial aircraft.
Finally, Elwell clarified that his industry was not asking for direct government investment.
AIA and its members do not support handouts or bailouts. The only economic stimulus civil aviation needs in today’s economic crisis is growth made possible by the efficiencies of NextGen, and confidence in the industry that the commitment to implement NextGen is real and on a predictable schedule.
An interesting sidenote: The committee hearing was convened by chairman Jim Oberstar in order to promote economic stimulus initiatives for the construction and transportation sectors. In his opening remarks, Oberstar made it clear that his focus was on roads, bridges and rail infrastructure, not aviation.