Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: State of American Aviation Manufacturing

2167 Rayburn House Office Building

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0 Wednesday, February 15, 2017 @ 10:00 | Contact: Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446

This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Aviation.

Summary of the Subject Matter
Official Hearing Transcript

Witness List:
  • Ms. Peggy Gilligan, Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety of the Federal Aviation Administration (Accompanied by: Ms. Dorenda Baker, Director, Aircraft Certification Service, FAA) | Written Testimony
  • Dr. Alan Epstein, Vice President, Technology and Environment of Pratt and Whitney | Written Testimony
  • Mr. John Hamilton, Vice President, Engineering of Boeing Commercial Airplanes | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Michael Thacker, Senior Vice President for Certification of Textron Aviation | Written Testimony

Shuster and LoBiondo Opening Statements
Hearing on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: State of American Aviation Manufacturing”
February 15, 2017
(Remarks as Prepared)

Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA)
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

I look forward to discussing the state of American aviation manufacturing, where this vital industry is heading, and the challenges it faces.

This is the first in a series of Aviation Subcommittee hearings focused on FAA reauthorization and reform, and how we can build a 21st century aviation system for America.

Aviation manufacturing is one of our top exporters, it contributes billions of dollars to the economy annually, and it supports millions of jobs right here in the United States. 

America’s long-standing leadership in aviation has been sustained because of our high safety standards, and the dedication of those who design and build aircraft and aviation equipment, and those who oversee that process.

However, America’s leadership is being threatened.  As our manufacturers continue to innovate, FAA’s regulations and workforce have to keep pace.

It is important that the FAA’s regulations and oversight activities are effective.  But it is also important that the FAA’s regulatory processes are efficient and consistent.  We shouldn’t have to sacrifice either one for the other.

I am interested in hearing from our witnesses what Congress can do to help us remain global leaders in aviation manufacturing, while also upholding our safety record.  I also want to hear their thoughts on the future of American aviation manufacturing.

I don’t want to see America’s aviation industry go the way of our steel, auto, and textile industries.

Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Subcommittee on Aviation

Today the Aviation Subcommittee will hold its first hearing of the 115th Congress.  This hearing is also the first in a series of hearings to prepare for the FAA reauthorization bill.

This Congress, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is looking to the future and how we build a 21st century infrastructure for America.

With this in mind, today the subcommittee will discuss the state of aviation manufacturing, the challenges it faces, where it is heading in the 21st century, and how we ensure the continued success of this segment of the aviation infrastructure.

Aviation manufacturing is a critical sector of our nation’s economy.  It contributes billions of dollars and supports millions of good paying American jobs.

The United States has always been the gold standard in aviation safety, as well as a world leader in aviation manufacturing.  U.S. civil aircraft manufacturing is a top net exporter, with U.S. aviation goods being delivered throughout the world.  However recently, global competition, as well as redundant, outdated, and inefficient rules and regulatory processes have jeopardized that lead.

The FAA plays an important role in ensuring that all aircraft and aircraft components made in the United States meet specific design and production safety standards.  This role is absolutely critical to ensure that safety is never compromised.  It is at the FAA Tech Center in my district in South Jersey that all certification research is performed.  The Tech Center is finding more and more ways to improve airport designs and procedures, as well as develop fire suppression capabilities for aircraft.

Yet, the certification process has its problems.  As manufacturers design and build to meet these standards, they can experience needless and harmful bureaucratic delays, both internationally and domestically.  These delays can be very detrimental to U.S. manufacturers trying to compete globally where every day of delay can mean real losses in both profits and jobs.

As the aviation industry expands its international reach, and introduces new technologies and innovations, it is critical that the FAA certification and regulatory processes adapt and respond.  The FAA must leverage the expertise of the private sector and fully utilize all the authorities it has been granted.  Enabling our aviation manufacturers to enter new markets and innovate, while ensuring the highest level of safety, is a priority of this subcommittee.

Today, I look forward to hearing our witnesses’ viewpoints on the state of American aviation manufacturing and where they believe it is headed in the 21st Century.  I also want to hear their suggestions on what role the government can play to support the aviation manufacturing industry’s continued success.  I thank all of the witnesses for joining us today.

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