Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chairwoman of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, traveled to the Gulfstream Aerospace company's headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, to tour the company's manufacturing plant that produces business planes and supports more than 10,000 jobs in Georgia.
During her tour, Cantwell met with company executives -- including President Larry Flynn and Senior Vice President Ira Berman -- to discuss the importance of general aviation manufacturing to the nation's economy. Since 2011, Cantwell has served as Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security.
General aviation supports 1.2 million jobs around the country, and $150 billion in economic activity. The general aviation market has grown worldwide, with increasing demand for business aircraft around the globe. Today, 50 percent of general aviation aircraft are exported.
General aviation manufacturers have utilized the Export-Import Bank to support more than $1 billion worth of exports from American manufacturers since 2012. During her tour of Gulfstream, Cantwell called for the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank to support manufacturing jobs and enable American companies to ship products overseas. Cantwell has led recent efforts to reauthorize the Bank, which assists exporters such as Gulfstream but is due to expire Sept. 30.
Gulfstream's international sales have grown over the last decade. The company hired 4,600 employees over the last eight years.
"Gulfstream is a true success story of American manufacturing and a great example of the importance of general aviation to our nation's economy," Cantwell said. "General aviation plays a critical role in our nation's aviation system -- and Congress must do what we can to support the continued growth of American business aircraft. That's why it's time for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank -- without a short-term extension -- to support thousands of American manufacturing jobs at Gulfstream and other leading exporters."
Gulfstream, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, employs 14,000 workers and has more than 3,500 suppliers around the country. The company manufactures five models of business jets, ranging from the wide cabin, high speed G150, to the ultra large cabin, ultra long range G650, the flagship of their fleet.
During the tour, Cantwell learned about the company's production process. She also met to discuss progress on the next FAA bill, and to listen to input on the FAA certification process. Manufacturers rely on the FAA certification process to certify new technology and the airworthiness of new aircraft before it can be sold here or abroad.
The Export-Import Bank is the export credit agency for the United States, and it finances or insures the purchase of U.S. goods by foreign customers. If private banks are unwilling or unable, the Export-Import Bank steps in and finances or insures the purchase of U.S. goods by foreign customers. It also helps U.S. companies stay competitive against their counterparts overseas that are financed by foreign governments.