AIA Head Praises Budget Deal, Urges Investment

Although US aerospace and defense companies have proved resilient in hard times, the current climate in Washington is leading to “willful neglect” of needed investments in science, technology, and aerospace developments, said Aerospace Industries Association CEO and President Marion Blakey. Overall industry sales for 2013 are pegged at around $222 billion, she said at AIA’s annual review and forecast address in Washington D.C. Wednesday. That number is down $2 billion from a year ago. While civil aircraft sales have boomed $5 billion in the last year, military aircraft sales have dropped nearly $4 billion in the same time period, said Blakey. Key reforms in export and technology controls are stifling to potential US partnerships, she added, and the impact of the US government sequester is taking a toll on the US workforce. Blakey said employment in the aerospace and defense sector dropped from 629,000 to 618,000—the lowest level in eight years. While Blakey gave kudos to Congress for the budget deal that passed the Senate Wednesday evening, she said the impacts of the sequester still will hit smaller suppliers and companies harder in 2014 and beyond. “We can do better,” she said, noting that slashing procurement and research now means the Pentagon will have to buy-back deferred modernization in the future. “Depending on the urgency… of the request, it may be too late for industry to ramp up in time,” she said.