Maintaining and Modernizing the U.S. Aviation System Must Be a National Priority, Says U.S. Chamber

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - 8:00pm

Executives at Annual Summit Say Cap-and-Trade System will Ground Industry

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today continued to draw attention to the need to rebuild and modernize the nation's aviation infrastructure system as it held its 8th Annual Aviation Summit entitled "Carrying Business Toward the Future." The event, hosted by the U.S. Chamber's National Chamber Foundation (NCF), examined the need to implement the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), and highlighted the consequences of a cap-and-trade program on the industry.

"Much of the technology and infrastructure that make up the air traffic control network and aviation system were put in place over fifty years ago," says Carol Hallett, of Counsel at the U.S. Chamber. "In its current state, the system will not be able to accommodate the 36% growth of airline passenger traffic that is projected by 2015."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Deutsche Lufthansa AG CEO and Executive Board Director Wolfgang Mayrhuber, FedEx Corporation President and CEO Fred Smith, and U.S. Airways Chairman and CEO Doug Parker underscored a number of steps Congress must take to bring the U.S. aviation system up to 21st Century standards at today's event. One critical step is to deploy NextGen, which will transform the National Airspace System from ground-based traffic control to a satellite managed system. The Senate must also confirm J. Randolph Babbitt as the next FAA Administrator, and Congress must look toward reauthorization of the FAA bill.

As climate change legislation heats up in Congress, the Chamber stressed that any cap-and-trade program will only harm the aviation industry, which has strived to increase fuel-efficiency, the development of lighter plane bodies, and the creation of greenhouse gas-reducing engines.

"We must seek energy policies that do not disrupt key industries, but promote their ability to lead in the research and development of clean, green technologies," continued Hallett. "This means allowing the aviation industry to continue to invest in new aircraft, equipment, alternative fuels, and innovative technologies that will eliminate waste, reduce travel times and allow the industry to operate as efficiently as possible."

The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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