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The aviation industry plays a critical role in the American economy, and this group recognizes its vast importance. The aviation sector transports 900 million passengers every year and is responsible for $1.5 trillion in total economic activity, nearly 12 million jobs, and represents 5.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Moreover, the industry’s $83 billion trade surplus is the largest trade surplus within the U.S. economy. Tying this all together is a complex infrastructure network of airports and air traffic control operated by, among many others, millions of highly skilled pilots, mechanics and other technicians, and air traffic controllers. The tremendous collaborative effort of industry and government over the decades, translated into the safest airspace in the world. But, while the U.S. had long been considered the gold standard in aviation technology and safety, America has begun to lose its edge and is falling behind its peers. Today, congestion and delays plague U.S. airports while high-altitude traffic is guided by inefficient and old point-to-point, ground-based radar technology; qualified workers needed to meet the global demands for air travel in the next 30 years have grown increasingly scarce; and new technologies are challenging airline safety and security.

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