ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. preeminence in aerospace is threatened by aging demographics and uncertainty over the future of the U.S. space program and adequate funding to support it, AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said Thursday in testimony before the House Committee on Science and Technology.
"While the Administration and Congress consider the future of NASA, we must ensure our continuing leadership in space exploration by investing in education and funding cutting-edge programs to attract young people to careers in NASA and the industry," said Blakey. "The vitality of our nation depends on a healthy, renewable aerospace workforce."
According to an Aviation Week Survey, 13 percent of the aerospace workforce is eligible to retire. By 2013, retirement eligibility for some job functions like R&D program managers will be around 20 percent. In addition, NASA has already laid off some of their contractor workforce and could be forced into more layoffs depending on direction by the Administration and Congress.
"These jobs are a national resource critical to our nation's technological capability and national security," said Blakey. "Aerospace talent lost to other industries may be unrecoverable with new workers taking years to train."
Maintaining the aerospace workforce depends on continuing stable and robust funding for the nation's space program. Fluctuating budgets and delayed programs adversely affect the schedule, production and maintenance of a skilled workforce.
"Space programs don't come off a shelf," said Blakey, "They take years to develop, test and build and interruptions and cancellations can be catastrophic to smaller firms."
The testimony is available on AIA's web site.
Founded in 1919, the Aerospace Industries Association represents the nation's leading manufacturers and suppliers of civil, military, and business aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aircraft systems, space systems, aircraft engines, materiel, and related components, equipment services, and information technology.
SOURCE Aerospace Industries Association