Looking Forward: Aviation 2050

HVC-210, Capitol Visitor Center

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0 Tuesday, March 12, 2019 @ 10:00 | Contact: Justin Harclerode 202-225-9446
This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Aviation.

Official Transcript

Witness List:
Mr. David McBride, Director, Armstrong Flight Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Written Testimony
Ms. Diana Cooper, Senior Vice President, Policy & Strategy, PrecisionHawk, Inc. | Written Testimony
Dr. Eli Dourado, Head of Global Policy and Communications, Boom | Written Testimony
Mr. Eric Allison, Head of Elevate, Uber Technologies, Inc. | Written Testimony
Captain Joe DePete, President, Air Line Pilots Association, International | Written Testimony

Opening remarks, as prepared, of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and Subcommittee on Aviation Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA):

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves:

Thank you Chairman Larsen and Ranking Member Graves for holding this hearing.

I would also like to express my condolences to the friends and families of those who perished as a result of the aviation accident in Ethiopia over the weekend.

While things are quickly developing in aerospace and aviation, we must never stop working to ensure the safest system possible.  As a pilot, I appreciate the both importance of safety, as well as the opportunities that lie ahead for aviation businesses, consumers, and aviators.

The air transportation system of the future promises great advances in the way we move people and goods across town, around the globe, and into space.  It will also allow us to better connect small and rural communities with the rest of the country and world.

But it is essential that safety be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We can allow for innovation while maintaining a safe and efficient air transportation system.  That is the balance that must be struck in order to be successful.

Fostering innovation and incorporating advancements in technology into our infrastructure network is one of my top priorities

Advances in aircraft and launch vehicle technologies will change the way we live.  In 2050, air travel could be a completely different experience.  Imagine working in D.C., but going home to Missouri, Louisiana, Oregon, or Washington every night.

Focusing on what the system will look like in 30 years, and how to allow for new developments will ensure the United States remains the world’s leader in air transportation.  Just as important, it will create the environment for American ingenuity and job creation. 

I am excited to hear about some of the newest users of the airspace, including drone operators, and commercial space transportation providers.  I also look forward to hearing about how air taxis and the reemergence of supersonic flights will change air travel.  As I said in the beginning, these are exciting times; the possibilities are limited only by our imagination. 

Subcommittee on Aviation Ranking Member Garret Graves:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling today’s hearing.

Before we begin, I want to acknowledge the multiple aviation accidents that occurred worldwide over the weekend, including the crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people, eight of whom were Americans.  While we don’t yet know what caused the accident, it is a sobering reminder that safety must always be our first priority.  That is true today, and will still be the case in 2050.

It’s hard for me to imagine what our aerospace industry will be like that far in the future, so it’s worth looking at what it was like 31 years ago in 1988.

Chairman DeFazio had just finished up his first year in Congress.  Representative Don Young was already the longest serving House member in Alaskan history.

Only 450 million passengers boarded airlines and 481,000 people worked in an industry that still included airlines like Pan Am, TWA, and Eastern.  The skies weren’t as safe – 729 passengers died in 28 fatal airline accidents, including the bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 259.

The planes we flew were different too; twin-engine flights over oceans had just been permitted by regulation, so many flights across the Atlantic or Pacific were still using 727s, 747s, and DC-8s.  Many planes had three people on the flight deck, having been designed to require the use of a flight engineer.  And Americans were just getting used to breathing easier as the aircraft smoking ban began phasing in that year.

When we look at how far we’ve come over the past 31 years, it’s clear that our future possibilities are endless.  We have the chance to totally reinvent the way our airspace is used, not only incorporating today’s new entrants like drones, flying cars, and commercial space transportation, but also the chance to pave the way for the next big idea that changes the way Americans travel.

We in Congress usually have to deal with how things are, not how we want them to be.  We have to think in terms of three- or four- or five-year reauthorizations or 10-year budget windows.  Today, we’re asking you to imagine what’s possible eight FAA authorizations into the future.

What will the aircraft we fly look like? What will the flight deck look like? How are Americans going to use the airspace? How do we ensure the continued safety of the system?  And what role is our aviation system and industry going to play in our economy?

We want to hear what’s possible, and we want to hear how Congress can ensure that there is the space and collaboration necessary to turn these dreams into reality.  We can’t predict what the future will be, but I hope when someone in 2050 looks back on this hearing record, they not only get a good laugh at what we thought would happen, but they see where we took a moment to step back and consider what the future might hold for aviation.  Finally, I hope they will be able to recognize that we seriously considered how our actions now helped lay the groundwork for the aviation system of the future.

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