The US government is formulating the country’s first national aerospace policy aimed at guiding research and development through 2020 and helping its aerospace industry compete more effectively with the European Union’s Vision 2020 initiative.

“The White House realises there’s a lot of concern in the aerospace community and that there needs to be a national aerospace policy to solidify our research and development base,” said Robie Samanta Roy of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy, speaking at last week’s American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics aerospace sciences meeting in Reno, Nevada.

The initiative is being channelled through the newly formed Aeronautics Science and Technology subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), a cabinet level committee of advisers to the president. “For the first time the industry now has a place to go to get to presidential level for any aeronautics activity,” said Gregg Dvorak of the NSTC executive office of the president. He added: “This has been an issue in this country for the past 80 years and we, collectively have yet to work out what to do.” President George Bush signed the effort into effect on 20 December and the finalised policy document is expected to be published by “late 2006”, said Dvorak, who expects that “in February we will have the policy internally ready to go”.

The document will then go through the standard NSTC approval process and be available for viewing and comment by the wider aerospace industry and academia by the second quarter. The aim of the initiative is to focus R&D efforts to “improve the usefulness, performance, speed, safety and efficiency of aeronautical vehicles to help preserve the role of the USA as a global leader in technology”, said Dvorak.

The policy covers key areas including the establishment of a robust US aeronautical capability, the need for “mobility” (or the capacity for growth), national defence, safety, security, the environment and the increasing threat posed by the shrinking workforce. Guidelines include defining the role of the government in aeronautics, establishing stable foundational research, R&D requirements for air traffic management and an assessment of R&D facilities.

Source: Flight International