Ladies and gentlemen:
The purpose of this briefing, which will be conducted by Secretary of Transportation Volpe, is to make a major announcement with regard to the future of American leadership in air transport.
I think all of us are aware that for 50 years the United States has led the world in air transport. The decision that we announce today means that we will continue to maintain leadership in this field.
The supersonic transport is going to be built. The question is whether in the years ahead the people of the world will be flying in American supersonic transports or in the transports of other nations. And the question is whether the United States, after starting and stopping this program, after stretching it out, finally decides to go ahead.
This has been a very difficult decision in terms of a very spirited debate within the administration and also within the Congress as to the proper priority for funds.
I have made the decision that we should go ahead.
I have made it first because I want the United States to continue to lead the world in air transport. And it is essential to build this plane if we are to maintain that leadership.
I have made the decision, also, because in another sense this means that through this plane we are going to be able to bring the world closer together in a true physical and time sense. This plane, which will fly at 1,700 miles an hour, will mean that in the year 1978, when it will fly commercially-the prototypes will fly in 1972--but in the year 1978 when it will fly commercially, that Tokyo will be as close to Washington, D.C., as far as hours are concerned, as London is today. And, in another sense, Argentina will be as close--the furthest tip of Latin America-to Washington, D.C., as London is today.
This is a massive stride forward in the field of transport and I think all of us want the United States to move forward in this area.
There are arguments that the Secretary will be able to answer with regard to the technical features of the plane. After listening to all of those arguments, I am convinced that the technical factors can be solved and that we should move forward.
And the decision is that now we do go forward and that the first prototype will be flown in 1972 and that the United States will continue to lead the world in air transport.
I want to congratulate at this time not only the Secretary of Transportation, who has felt very strongly within the administration that we should go forward with this decision, but to the leaders--particularly from the State of Washington where the planes will be built, I understand, in the first instance, although this art will spread around other parts of the country, and I am sure subcontracts will cover the whole country, as I understand--to Governor [Daniel] Evans, to Senator [Henry M.] Jackson, to Congresswoman [Catherine] May, to Congressman [Thomas M.] Pelly, and also to the Representative from the Appropriations Committee of the House, Mr. Bill Minshall of Ohio--certainly he has an interest in aviation, being a pilot himself, and has long felt that we should go forward.
Thank you very much.