Thomas J. Donohue Thomas J. Donohue
Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


March 06, 2017


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made economic growth its driving focus for 2017. Every industry in our economy can support growth by looking toward the future, and the Chamber hosted its 16th annual Aviation Summit last week to help the various players in the aviation sector do exactly that. As part of the summit, the Chamber made history by conducting a live satellite interview with astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The interview had to be carefully timed with the orbit of the ISS around the earth, and it took a few seconds for communications to travel the more than 200 miles between the astronauts and our audience. But the insight gained from these brave individuals was illuminating, particularly for the many members of the aerospace industry in attendance.

Recent years have seen a surge of investments and innovations in the field of space technology. These developments used to be driven almost exclusively by government, but today our private companies are valuable partners—and in many cases the primary leaders—in the quest to explore space. Companies like Boeing, SpaceX, and Lockheed Martin are developing everything from rockets to satellites and investing in projects that will stretch decades into the future.

We’re already seeing economic growth and job creation result from these breakthroughs, and this will only continue to accelerate. Last week’s summit also reported on a range of innovations beyond the field of space exploration, including drones, developments in commercial air travel, and technologies to improve our airports. These advancements will continue to drive growth in our economy and help preserve America’s status as the world’s leader in flight.

The aviation sector is expansive, encompassing commercial air travel, general aviation, manufacturing, cargo, airports, aerospace, defense, and more. Leaders from every corner of the sector attended the summit, providing the latest example of the Chamber’s unmatched convening power. By sharing ideas, innovations, and visions with one another, these leaders are better able to coordinate efforts and anticipate changes that will impact their businesses.

Innovation is essential to the growth of every industry. And it’s clear to anyone who attended the Aviation Summit—and heard from astronauts of the ISS, CEOs of major airlines, and leading technology experts—that innovation is alive and well in this important segment of the American economy. The Chamber will continue to bring together a wide variety of voices across industries, promote dialogue between them, and advance policies that support innovation and growth in every industry.

About the authors

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue is advisor and former chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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