NASA Aeronautics:

Efforts to Preserve U.S. Leadership in the Aeronautics Industry Are Limited

T-NSIAD-92-14: Published: Mar 18, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 18, 1992.

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GAO discussed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) efforts to preserve U.S. leadership in the aeronautics industry, focusing on: (1) the competitive position of the U.S. aeronautics industry; (2) aeronautics program funding; and (3) research and technology activities associated with the commercial aeronautics industry. GAO noted that: (1) over the past 20 years the NASA aeronautics budget has placed greater importance on space programs than on aeronautical programs; (2) since the early 1980s, the majority of NASA aeronautics research and development funds have been devoted to fundamental research rather than to systems technology which could help U.S. companies remain competitive; (3) in fiscal year (FY) 1992, NASA allocated $361 million of its aeronautics research and development funding to fundamental research and $213 million to systems technology; and (4) although NASA research for subsonic transport aircraft is most beneficial to near-term industry competitiveness, funding for such research was only 16 percent of the total aeronautics research and development budget in FY 1992; (5) NASA attempted to augment its subsonic systems technology effort, but its budget request was reduced from $642 million to $120 million and its program completion date slipped 3 years; and (6) the European governments' subsidy of industry's use of wind tunnels hinders U.S. competitiveness, since U.S. companies must pay fees to use NASA wind tunnels.

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