WASHINGTON, July 1 (UPI) -- The head of the U.S. Aerospace Industries Association has called for accelerated implementation of the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System.
Marion C. Blakey, former Federal Aviation Administration chief and AIA's president, also called for increased U.S. investment in research and development to avoid losing leadership in aerospace and defense.
"It's important to properly fund and promote our aerospace and defense industry and the research and development needed to sustain it," Blakey said at a luncheon hosted by the Aero Club of Washington.
Blakey also said it was important for the aerospace industry to underscore the critical role of aerospace and defense in supporting the country and its economy, especially during ongoing budget debates.
AIA is launching a campaign called Second to None to ensure Congress and other officials understand the industry is a perishable national asset.
"The aerospace and defense industry, which is second to none in the world, represents a smart business decision," said Blakey. "Our products keep the world's economy moving, our families safe at home and our troops secure and successful abroad."
Blakey also noted that half of U.S. aerospace engineers will become eligible for retirement by 2015 and, for the first time in 100 years, no new manned military aircraft are in design.
Outdated export rules are hampering businesses as well as unmanned aerial systems, which Blakey called "game-changers in this century."
The FAA's NextGen will help environmental efforts by saving fuel and reducing emissions.