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THE LEGISLATIVE OUTLOOK Thomas R. Harkin Chairman, Subcommittee on Transportation, Aviation and Communication U.S. House of Representatives I am sorry that I can spend only a few moments here. I would like to be here the rest of the week, compared to what is going on in Washington. I do want to thank Guy Stever for inviting me here today. It is certainly an honor to be with such a distinguished group of aeronautical leaders. When Guy called me I said, "Well, what do you think I ought to talk about?" He said, "Well, talk about the legislative end of it—just tell them what is on your mind." So let me turn to a few comments on the legislative outlook of aeronautics or how Congress perceives NASA's role. I guess the first point I would like to make here is that most members of Congress don't perceive the role that NASA (and before then, NACA) played in aeronautics. It may surprise you but it doesn't surprise me. Members of Congress are elected from the public at large. Very few members of the general public understand that nature of NASA's role. To most people the word "NASA" means only one thing. It is the space agency that landed men on the moon. NASA means Apollo, Saturn rockets, and moon rocks. They are usually unaware of NASA's other role and its long history of involvement with aviation. They only know about the more spectacular achievements in space. That is the first point I would like to make—the first "A" in NASA is a well-kept secret from the general public. Now, I understand that there are some representatives here today from the auto industry. So, for their benefit as well as to further illustrate my point, I will tell you that explaining NASA's role in aeronautics has been a source of considerable frustration for me over the past l8 months. As many of you know, I am very interested in expanding the federal efforts in automotive research and technology development. Other members of the Science and Technology Committee and I as well as some

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senators, felt that the NASA approach to bringing forth new aeronautical technology could serve as a good model for this effort. I found, however, that most people, including many of my colleagues, did not understand NASA's role in aeronautics. They didn't understand the partnership nature of NASA's relationship with industry. They didn't realize that NASA tries hard to seek industry advice on research needs and priorities, and they didn't appreciate the degree to which aeronautical research projects are contracted with industry. Rather, the typical reaction was that building automobiles was not like building a spaceship to go to the moon. They were afraid that a car built by NASA would run fine on the moon but that it wouldn't be able to take you to the corner grocery store or to work and back. Of course, airplanes, unlike spacecraft, aren't built this way. But few people understand this distinction. It is very difficult and frustrating to explain it to them. The second point I would make concerns the necessity for NASA to be a leader in the technical community. To their great credit this agency has long employed what I believe is the key to successful transfer of their technology to useful products. Unlike many other government agencies, NASA has a very good track record of what science people call commercialization. One need only look to the skies to see the practical results of yesterday's NASA-sponsored research. The reason for this, it seems to me, is the close cooperation that NASA and the aviation industry have enjoyed. We see this in the operation of advisory groups. We see it in the substantial percentage of research work that is performed on a contract basis by the very companies that must eventually commercialize the results. Above all, we see this close relationsip in the overall attitude of the industry and government people involved. As an aside, I believe that this could well serve as a model for a much needed change on our whole industry-government relationship in the United States. But, there is a hidden danger in all this harmony. This is the one that concerns us in the legislative area. NASA has a broader constituency than just the aviation industry. In a very real way, the whole country depends on aeronautic progress; for balance of trade, for improved transportation, for safety and economy, and for national security. So, NASA must constantly look to the future. NASA's leaders must look beyond the sometimes short-range interests of their industry partners. They must strike a fine balance between research that nobody wants and that will not lead anywhere on the one extreme, and research that can be done very easily by industry on the other extreme. It is a difficult task. I know that Bob Frosch, Al Lovelace, Walt Olstad, and their associates spend a lot of time thinking about it. I just heard Bob talking about it when I came in the door. Generally speaking, I believe that NASA does a good job in this area. Certainly NASA's record puts it head and shoulders above every other agency in Washington that is trying to advance technology. Nevertheless, it is a policy concept that NASA management must always keep fixed in their view and it is one that we in Congress intend to monitor closely. l0

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1 would mention one area that exemplifies this need for technical leadership, this need for perceiving future requirements and making sure that wa are working today on the technology needed in the future. That area is advanced supersonic cruise and maneuver technology. I believe that NASA has an obligation to look beyond the concerns and limitations of today to be developing this technology for the future. For example, it is highly likely that energy may not be our number one concern l5 years from now. It could instead be our supply of fresh water. As a nation we are currently spending billions of dollars on energy alternatives. I firmly believe that within l0 to l5 years we may be able to say that we have gotten through the energy crunch and our preoccupation with fuel efficiency may diminish—not completely go away, but may diminish—as one of the major things to think about. Another trend that I believe will develop is the emergence of world centers of commerce areas that are located many thousands of miles from the United States. It has to do with population, natural resources, and labor. I am thinking about such places as Brazil, with its huge land area and abundant resources; Australia, with its vast open spaces and natural resources; and even South Africa. If this should happen, as I believe it will, the world will need high-speed transportation. If energy recedes, as I said, as the all-consuming concern, such transportation will become highly feasible. While no one is prepared to say that a market for supersonic travel is at hand today, I believe it is coming. Yes, to use a phrase that we use out in the Midwest where I am from, we are not planting enough technological seeds today to ensure a good crop when that time comes. So, I believe NASA may be shirking its responsibility for technical leadership in this area. The present effort is, by all accounts, inadequate to provide the data base that will be needed. Most experts seem to agree that more is needed. The Congress, for its part, appears ready to approve a reasonable program aimed at technology validation. The recent report of the Office of Technology Assessment supported this direction. As you probably know there was a House vote very recently—within the last month, I believe—on the present supersonic cruise and variable cycle engine activities. I believe this result shows a very strong underpinning of support in spite of all the emotionalism that seems to surround this issue of supersonic transports. So now, I believe, the responsibility rests with NASA. NASA must become an advocate. No one else can do it effectively. Now, to keep my comments in balance, I should say that there are other areas where NASA is exhibiting excellent vision, being on the cutting edge of this new technology. Their work on advanced turboprops is, I believe, a case in point. I am sure we can find many who would say that propellers will never again be acceptable for transport aircraft use. I believe they are wrong. Yet, NASA has persisted, confident that the energy advantages will ultimately prove those people wrong. I don't know how it will turn out, but I am 1l

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pleased to see that NASA is on the cutting edge of this technology. Let me turn to another policy matter that could affect the future role of NASA in aeronautics—that is the extent of involvement in research that has traditionally fallen in the gray area between NASA and the FAA. In my subcommittee work I have had to deal with both. I am sure it is obvious to everyone here that even the most spectacular of NASA's energy efficiency gains can be quickly nullified by air traffic delays. So, if only as a matter of self-defense, NASA should be more assertive in applying their collective systems expertise to problems of capacity in the air system. But, there is another, even better reason. Langhorne Bond testified recently before my subcommittee that he was seriously considering limitations on air traffic growth. I feel this would be most unfortunate, especially when we have the full scientific capability of NASA available to help the FAA solve its problems, and I say that with tongue in cheek. Therefore, I would strongly urge that NASA expand both its independent programs and its cooperation with the FAA in this vital area. I am not trying to throw rocks at the FAA, but I believe that in the recent past it has moved more toward the area of regulation and away from the area of innovation, where NASA is the strongest. This is where NASA could fill in the big gap in that gray area. Finally, I would like to touch on a very fundamental issue, namely, where on the scale from basic research to product development should NASA's effort in aeronautics be concentrated? An easy answer would be on the whole spectrum. But, with limited resources and limited money we may have to concentrate. I know that you plan to consider this question in depth throughout the week and that is good. It is a question that needs reexamination. My thoughts are basically this: conditions in the world are constantly changing and nothing is static. For example, I recently ran across some interesting projections from a respected financial analyst. They showed Boeing's market share dropping from 77 percent in l978 to 64 percent in l990, McDonnell-Douglas dropping from l5 to 8 percent, and Airbus going from 5 to 20 percent of the market. If these figures are correct, we may well be in for a proverbial, agonizing reappraisal of government's role in aviation. It is certainly clear that "business as usual" won't meet this kind of competition. Are we going to go in aviation the way of the automobile in international trade? As a part of this reappraisal, this agonizing reappraisal, it would be logical to begin with what you are about this week, rethinking NASA's role in aeronautics. Before you do, I would suggest that your first task be to define some terms. What is meant by technology validation? What is meant by technology readiness? How far do you go before it is ready? How far do you go before it is validated? If you can all agree on that, it will be a big contribution. Again, my own general feeling about NASA's role is that the agency has retreated too far back to basic research and away from the actual validation, away from actual, for example, flight testing with l2

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experimental aircraft. Twenty-five years ago Dryden had a whole stable of these strange-looking flying machines. Today it is a ghost town by comparison. We seem to have forgotten that basic research, while absolutely necessary, is not sufficient. I recognize that we must continually restock the technology shelves, and while I strongly support the R&D base programs, I also believe there is no substitute for actually making it work. It is an important question. I don't have the answer, but I can tell you that within Congress, if you are talking about money, most congressmen are willing to spend money for something tangible, something that they can put their hands on. You know that as well as I do. Guy Stever knows that from the old NSF. When you talk basic research, when you talk about things that may never have any payoff, it is a struggle year in and year out. But, when you can see tangible results, things that they can put their hands on, then you have more support. So, I just throw that out for your consideration this week when you talk about the proper role of NASA between the area of basic research and this area of commercialization and where they ought to be putting their emphasis. l3

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