From the first biplane flights of the early 20th century, to the historic Apollo 11 moon landing, to the cutting-edge development currently taking place on unmanned aircraft systems, American aerospace companies have consistently proven their ability to push the bounds of innovation.
This year’s Farnborough International Airshow is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for America’s finest aerospace companies to showcase their latest technologies and remind global firms of the many reasons they should look to the United States to find new suppliers and expand their operations. Our strong workforce, consistent investments in research and development, proven track record of safety, and access to overseas markets make the U.S. the best place in the world for global aerospace companies to do business.
American innovation in the aerospace sector is driven by a highly educated, highly trained workforce of more than half a million people. These workers are instrumental to the development and deployment of new technologies in the U.S. aerospace industry, such as the creation of advanced composite materials now being used in both civil and military aircraft. Advances in composites, for example, are allowing large civil aircraft to travel farther, increase their longevity, and improve passengers’ comfort. At the same time, military aircraft have become more “stealth” as the use of composites has become more widespread.
The American private sector is not alone in its quest to create 21st-century tools for the aerospace industry. Our public sector significantly contributes to research and development in partnership with our world class universities and laboratories. In FY 2016, for example, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced plans to invest more than US$410 million in R&D to fuel technologies that reduce environmental impacts as well as increase the efficiency of air traffic control systems. That number was nearly double the US$246 million the FAA invested in 2014. And agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA are collaborating closely at their field centers with U.S. entrepreneurs to creatively address engineering problems in rocket propulsion and in-orbit operations, as well as in other areas. At the same time, state governments are working to create welcoming environments for foreign investment in aerospace and other sectors.
A strong commitment to safety is yet another reason to celebrate America’s aerospace industry. For 60 years the FAA has led the world in the certification of aircraft and aircraft parts, in addition to other aviation safety activities. Those certifications show customers that parts and aircraft have been built to meet and exceed international safety standards.
The FAA’s strong track record is demonstrated by the unprecedented number of passengers transported by U.S. airlines and foreign airlines operating in the U.S. – more than 800 million in 2015. No other country comes close to safely operating flights for so many passengers. To achieve these outcomes, our FAA uses enhanced risk mitigation approaches, leveraging technology to achieve airspace system improvements, and effectively training its workforce to meet current and future needs.
The collective force of these advantages has led to very clear successes in our aerospace sector, the largest creator of U.S. trade surpluses for the past 25 years. U.S. aerospace exports have continued to increase year-over-year since 2010, with sales of nearly US$145 billion last year. Through the WTO, we have negotiated duty-free trade for nearly all aerospace products, which allows for parts exported from the United States to be priced competitively around the world.
Yet we continue to create opportunities to increase aerospace exports from the United States. For example, agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are expected to further boost trade, while reducing red tape for customs procedures. Increased trade leads to growing demand for air cargo services and the aerospace products that are dependent on a worldwide supply chain to facilitate those services.
This week at Farnborough, more than 360 of America’s best aerospace companies will show the world precisely why the United States has been and continues to be the first choice for companies interested in manufacturing in this sector. Come to the Department of Commerce-certified U.S. International Pavilion, see the cutting-edge products on display, talk to our world-class manufacturers and see for yourself that the United States’ aerospace industry is open for business.