By Gregory S. McNeal
California’s leading position as one of the top markets for aerospace related research and development cannot be maintained without significant attention from the Legislature and the Governor. California accounts for nearly 9% of the world’s aerospace R&D, but a globally competitive marketplace threatens the state’s leadership role. What California needs is an Aerospace Commission, and that’s why Senator Ben Allen’s SB 1215 is a critically important piece of legislation.
The proposal is as straightforward as it is non-controversial, California needs an Aerospace Commission to help the state maintain and expand its leadership role in aerospace related sectors. In California, the aerospace industry employs over 200,000 Californians directly, and supports more than half a million jobs in related fields.
That number is probably a conservative one, for example, AirMap (the company I co-founded) employed four people a year ago, and now employs more than twenty five. All of the leading, fast growing, drone companies are in California or have major California offices. From AirMap and Drone Base in Santa Monica, to Google, Amazon Prime Air, Airware, DJI, 3D Robotics, Kespry, SkyCatch and Skydio(among others) in Silicon Valley.
Drone start-ups aren’t traditional aerospace companies, and neither are companies who are taking a commercial approach to space, like SpaceX , Terra Bella andPlanet Labs. There is a long tail of support infrastructure, suppliers and software developers behind each of these companies. Their existence here in California proves that the industry in the state has a bright future ahead of it....