The Supersonic Transport Program
Statement by the President Urging Reversal of the Senate's Disapproval of the SST. December 5, 1970
The action of the U.S. Senate in disapproving the SST is a devastating mistake both because of its immediate impact and because it will have profound long-range consequences for this country. I urge both Houses of Congress to reverse this action.
Because of our transition from a wartime to a peacetime economy we are experiencing substantial unemployment in the aerospace industry. The Senate's action means the loss of at least 150,000 jobs in that and other industries.
Another immediate impact results from waste. The SST prototype phase is now 50 percent complete. Halting work now—and destroying a development effort well on its way to completion—would be a waste of nearly $700 million of our national resources. It would be like stopping the construction of a house when it was time to put in the doors. There is another aspect to this waste : It would cost nearly $278 million in contract terminations under the present law to simply close down this project--only slightly less than the $290 million being sought at this time to continue the program.
Most important, taking a longer range view, halting the SST now could well be a mortal blow to our aerospace industry for years to come. The research and development and the accomplishments of this industry have been major factors in giving the United States a superior position in the field of technology. We must not abandon this national advantage now.
Beyond the effects on the aerospace industry, the SST program will have an extremely important impact on our whole economy. It will have a deep effect on our balance of payments and on the tax revenues coming into our treasury.
I am well aware of the many concerns that have been voiced about the possible effects supersonic transports might have on the environment. I want to reassure the Congress that the two prototype aircraft will in no way affect the environment. As for possible later effects, we have an extensive research project under way to insure against damage. Further progress on the part of the United States in the SST field will give this country a much stronger voice with regard to any long range effects on the environment than if we permit other nations to take over the entire field. And this they will surely do if we retire from this project now. The SST is an airplane that will be built and flown. This issue is simply which nation will build them.
Throughout the history of aviation, the United States has been first in this field. If the action of the Senate is not reversed, our country will be relegated to second place in an area of technological capability vital to our economy and of profound importance in the future.
I believe that the Senate's unfortunate action can be and should be corrected.