Union Tribune

November 19, 2002 

Aerospace panel lists 9 ideas to lift industry


WASHINGTON The airline industry is "near collapse" and
America's international dominance of aerospace is threatened, a
national commission said yesterday.

"What we found was there have been systemic failures over the
years, and our nation and the aerospace sector face great
economic challenges as a result of those failures," commission
chairman Robert S. Walker said in announcing the results of the
panel's yearlong study.

The panel on the future of the aerospace industry made nine
recommendations to reverse the decline. Among the proposals
are significant, but unspecified, increases in federal funding on
aerospace and aviation; tax breaks and financial incentives for
the airlines; and relaxation of controls on exporting aerospace
products and on the regulations restricting expansion of

The report urges accelerated development of an automated air
traffic control system that would allow more aircraft to use the
national airspace. It proposes allowing robotic air vehicles to
mingle with piloted airplanes. The document also calls for more
commercial access to federal space launch facilities and for a
more unified direction of aerospace programs.

The thrust of the commission's report, vice chairman F. Whitten
Peters said, "is that there is a need for urgent action and a need
for a unifie d federal effort on aviation."

Although the report did not put a figure on the costs of its
recommendations, implementing all of them could run into
billions of dollars in spending and tax cuts.

For example, the panel said the government "must commit to
increased and sustained investment" in aerospace, called for "full
federal funding" of equipment airliners would need to operate in
the new air traffic system and urged the government to "fully
fund air traffic control modernization efforts."

Commission members said Washington should assume all the
costs of aviation security, a national defense burden they said
should not be born by the industry or its customers.

Congress created the commission in 2000. President Bush and
congressional leaders appointed the 12 members, who include
two former lawmakers, several aerospace industry officials, a
union leader, an educator and former astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

The panel's leaders will brief Vice President Dick Cheney on their
findings today. Walker expressed confidence that the
administration and Congress would act on the