4/1/2013 - Can We Reverse the Decline of Aerospace Manufacturing in Los Angeles??
The California Aerospace industry lays dormant, anticipating California politicians to pick up the reins, while LA's unemployment numbers continue to rise. No one is presenting California to the Obama Administration on LA's history of being the top gun in the Aerospace industry. With Jane Harman retired, LA County no longer has a strong congresswoman devoted to bringing aerospace jobs back to California.
The local media in Ca. are making more of an effort to unmanned Google cars than the surging industry of unmanned aircraft.
A recent study estimated that one drone test contract may bring 12,000 high paying jobs to the Southern California region by 2017. For the drone test project, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is presently considering creating California as a potential location for the tests of unmanned aircraft.
Last Wednesday at a drone conference, participants stated how a test project such as the drone test site clearly has benefits that will help the Southland. The project will require landing and recovery airports, these airports will develop a need for innovative technology companies to help support the mission. Only two airports have applied to the Federal Aviation Agency for the opportunity to perform drone test (Ventura County and Kern County).
Industry analysts believe there are two new aircraft programs that LA may get caught up on. One is the T-X (trainer-experimental) program for a new jet trainer, and the other is the LRS-B (long range strike-bomber) for a new strategic aircraft. Both of these programs were featured in Aviation Week, so it is believed that these programs will happen. But the question is will the California Aerospace industry get caught flatfooted on the wrong thing?
Los Angeles County currently have a far from insignificant yet also far more modest aerospace presence compared to aerospace in the past. Ironically, majority of the aircraft that the Administration is replacing were manufactured in S. California, including the B-1/B-2 and T-38.
The residuals alone are compelling to put LA in a very good position jump start the industry in California again. Edwards Air Force Base, LA Air Force Base, Point Magu Naval Air Station, and JPL are still standing and still serving as active testimonials to the potency of LA's great aeronautic foundation.
With the decline of the industry in the 1990's, coupled with LA's prime troubles (riot, earthquake), LA lost a number of its engineering talent. Once Clinton realized that earthquake aid alone wasn't cutting it, it was too late to do much to save California.
Another recent big blow to California’s Aerospace Industry was believed to be dished out by former Los Angeles Mayor Riordan who provided irresponsible chatter to the Wall Street Journal about LA facing bankruptcy. This loose talk decimated the nation's view of Los Angeles aerospace industry, giving opportunistic red state politicians hopes of garnering aerospace contracts a talking point for not considering LA for new contracts. More jobs and companies are relocating to Southern red states, fewer projects are coming to California--which outrages old industry analysts fed up with political fumblings.
One industry advocate put it this way: "In an era where the USA strategic emphasis is leaning toward the Pacific – the South is becoming the Republican region – why does the Obama Administration reward the GOP in Congress for its stubbornness? Particularly when California congressional delegation has been for the president? But political favor alone is not enough reason for Southern Ca. to garner new contracts. A powerful case must be created and presented to the Obama Administration that California will be compete, and surpass all comers in delivering quality aircraft--and that to choose any other place not only sends money away from Los Angeles, but most importantly spends cash less wisely than it is spent.
Despite the catastrophe of the '90's, LA still has the top talent to deliver quality aircraft. Who will rise within the ranks and reverse the era of California aerospace decline?