Our economy flows through efficient, clean, low-cost transportation. At the same time, we must reduce our use of fossil fuels if we want to limit climate change. NASA’s aeronautics technology can serve as the key to this effort by developing cleaner, safer, more efficient aircraft. The next generation air traffic control system is well within reach of near-term deployment. The FAA and NASA will have to work together with industry representatives; and research and contract funds need to be freed up to bring the system online.
Sometime in this century, people will be flying autonomous aircraft—the equivalent of the self-driving car. Personal air vehicles, perhaps powered by electric batteries, can help relieve our overcrowded airports, save land, and minimize emissions. Yet, over the past 30 years, budget cuts have hobbled NASA’s aeronautics mission. I would reinvigorate that mission to help create the next economy.