General aviation and the rest of the aviation industry face a serious threat from overseas aerospace companies that receive heavy government subsidy, and if U.S. companies are to compete, they need to stand up against foreign governments' trade restrictions and subsidies.
That sobering assessment came from Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate's aviation subcommittee, during a strongly worded speech to the Aero Club in Washington, D.C., this week. Rockefeller, who was instrumental in bringing general aviation manufacturer Tiger Aircraft to his home state, cited that company's need to reach overseas markets, but which hasn't been able to, in part, because "foreign governments and national carriers are pursuing an aggressive, possibly illegal, campaign of subsidy and discrimination." Rockefeller urged his audience to "engage in the fight to end a declining aerospace industry" and to "restore what I fear is a serious drop in our aviation and aerospace competitiveness around the world." (On Dec. 3, AOPA President Phil Boyer helped commemorate Tiger Aircraft LLC's delivery of three new production AG-5B Tigers from its West Virginia factory.)
Rockefeller said one significant factor contributing to the industry's decline is the drop in funding for aerospace research and development. He suggests that Congress should make the research and development tax credit permanent. The U.S. Aerospace Commission agreed, making the same suggestion in its interim report issued in March.