Aerospace Industries Association

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The Aerospace Industries Association is the U.S. based trade association representing "leading manufacturers and suppliers of civil, military, and business aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, space systems, aircraft engines, missiles, materiel and related components, equipment, services, and information technology." [1]


The Aerospace Industries Association finds it's antecedents in the Manufacturers Aircraft Association formed in 1917 when America increased it's production of airplanes for the First World War. Two years later, in 1919, at the War's end, the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce of America was formed to promote aviation as an economic force and was made up of the country's top 100 aircraft manufacturers.

In 1928 the ACCA encouraged membership by presenting the organization as "a common voice against unions".

In the 1930's when the Department of Labor sought to implement wage increases, the manufacturers begin to realize the influence they could have on contract procurement practices.

This was important because the Chamber had been lacking the interest for collective action because manufacturers up to this point had better success dealing with the government on an individual basis than as a group. The collective necessity presented itself once and for all with the onset of the Second World War. (Procassini, pg. 135)

In 1945 the Chamber changed it's name to the Aircraft Industries Association, took over many functions of the War Production Council, and organized itself in the direction of commercial aviation soldifying itself as a permanent trade association.

In 1959, the association changed its name again to their current title. [2] This reflected the changing nature of the industry and the ability of the organization and its members to enter more frequently into communications and contracts with the Federal government on defense and outer space issues.

The AIA participated in the Tokyo round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade talks concerning approached to liberalizing and promoting trade in civil aerospace.

In 1965, AIA played a leading role in the creation of the Council of Defense and Space Industries Associations. (Procassini, pg. 136)

In the 1980's, members of AIA had come under increasing criticism for overcharging the government for products sold to the Department of Defense. AIA responded by bringing on former congressman, Don Fuqua, and launching "a pro-active program of actions designed to upgrade the public perception and status of the aerospace industry". (Procassini, pg. 137)

Procassini lays out a couple generalizations that describe AIA:

  • Because AIA members are invested in high-tech products made for defense, space exploration, and civil aviation, they are forced to deal with public policy issues that deal with R&D spending, tax credits, and intellectual property rights.
  • The defense aspect of AIA's interest shapes their focus on government procurement regulations.
  • The commercial aspect of AIA's interests necessitates consideration of a wide range of issues from anti-trust and export controls to trade and labor policies. (Procassini, pg. 138)

Upon the Cold War's end, AIA was aware defense cuts would be difficult for the industry. In 1990, Don Fuqua stated:

I do not minimize the impact on our industry of the defense spending cuts we know are coming. But we're declining from an all-time peak, and we believe that we'll be able to maintain a moderately healthy level of defense activity. (Weidenbaum, pg. 56)


For a complete list go to AIA's member page


Aerospace Industries Association
1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1700
Arlington, VA 22209-3928
Phone: (703) 358 1000

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch



  • Procassini, Andrew A., Competitors in Alliance: Industry Associations, Global Rivalries, and Business-Government Relations, Quorum Books, Westport, CT., July 1995. ISBN 0899309623
  • Weidenbaum, Murray, Small Wars, Big Defense: Paying for the Military after the Cold War, Oxford US, New York, January 1992. ISBN 0195072480