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Letter to Edward P. Curtis on His Appointment as Special Assistant to the President for Aviation Facilities Planning.

February 11, 1956

[Released February 11, 1956. Dated February 10, 1956]

Dear Mr. Curtis:

I am delighted that you have agreed to serve as Special Assistant to the President for aviation facilities planning. In this capacity you will be responsible for:

1. The direction and coordination of a long-range study of the Nation's requirements for aviation facilities.

2. The development of a comprehensive plan for meeting in the most effective and economical manner the needs disclosed by the study.

3. The formulation of legislative, organizational, administrative and budgetary recommendations to implement the comprehensive plan.

I am taking this action because the rapid technical advances in aviation and the remarkable growth in the use of air transportation have confronted the Nation with serious aviation facilities problems. Modern aircraft can be operated in the numbers required by the national defense and the civilian economy only if airports, navigation aids, air traffic control devices and communications systems are suitable for their needs. Moreover, anticipated further increases in air traffic, the introduction of jet propulsion for civil as well as military aircraft, the advances being made in vertical flight, and the greater use of higher altitudes, all presage much heavier future demands upon our facilities for navigation and traffic control.

The preparation and acceptance of a comprehensive aviation facilities plan will provide the basis for the timely installation of technically adequate aids, for optimum coordination of the efforts of the civil and military departments, for the avoidance of costly duplications of systems and equipment, and for effective participation by State and local authorities and the aircraft operators in meeting facilities requirements. To delay the formulation of the plan is to invite further congestion of the air space, needless hazard, economic loss, inconvenience to users, and possible impairment of the national security.

The Departments of Defense and Commerce have responsibilities in the operation of aviation programs. But revolutionary possibilities and the all-embracing character of aviation development require an independent, over-all study of this national problem. That duty is placed upon you.

There already exists within the Government, and particularly in these two Departments, a wealth of experience, much of which should be helpful to you. In assembling the facts on aviation facilities needs and in developing the various elements of the comprehensive plan, you are authorized to call upon not only these two Departments, but upon any official of the Executive Branch for assistance. In fact, it is my expectation that the Departments and Agencies concerned with aviation will serve as your principal resource in carrying out your assignments.

I am transmitting copies of this letter to the Secretaries of Defense and Commerce with a request that they each designate a top-level officer to work with you and to assure the availability to you of every assistance which their Departments can provide.

I shall follow your work with deep interest. I shall expect that from time to time you will give me reports of your progress and that you will promptly advise me of anything that I might do to expedite your work.

For your further information and guidance, there is enclosed a copy of the report recently submitted to the Director of the Bureau of the Budget by the Aviation Facilities Study Group.



Note: The Aviation Facilities Study Group was composed of seven consultants, appointed in 1955 by the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, under the leadership of William Barclay Harding. The Group's report was submitted on December 31, 1955.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter to Edward P. Curtis on His Appointment as Special Assistant to the President for Aviation Facilities Planning. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234011

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