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US Federal Aviation Administration

The US Federal Aviation Administration

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The news feed below presents the latest information from the US FAA. Make sure to check these feeds as they might be appropriate to your flying activities.

Latest Regulatory News

News and updates to FAA regulatory information, including formal publications, regulations and guidance material.

US Federal Aviation Administration
  • News and Updates - FAA Air Traffic Report Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:53:40 EST

    Today's Air Traffic Report:

    Winds could cause flight delays in Boston (BOS) and the New York area (EWR, JFK, LGA) today, and morning cloud cover may slow traffic in Chicago (MDW, ORD). Afternoon thunderstorms may affect arrivals and departures in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (DAL, DFW) and Houston (HOU, IAH). Flying conditions are favorable west of the Rockies.

    For up-to-the-minute air traffic operations information, visit, and follow @FAANews on Twitter for the latest news and Air Traffic Alerts.

    The FAA Air Traffic Report provides a reasonable expectation of any daily impactsto normal air traffic operations, i.e. arrival/departure delays, ground stoppages, airport closures. This information is for air traffic operations planning purposes and is reliable as weather forecasts and other factors beyond our ability to control.

    Always check with your air carrier for flight-specific delay information.

  • Speech - Unmanned Aircraft Systems Symposium Opening Remarks Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:00:00 EST
    Administrator Michael Huerta
    Reston, VA

    Remarks as prepared for delivery

    Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us as we kick off the second annual UAS Symposium. Its great to have so many of you here today, and from so many different industries and areas of expertise.

    America is rightly considered the gold standard in aviation, and theres a simple reason for it: we dont compete when it comes to safety.

    Theres often a combative relationship between government and the industry it regulates. But not here.

    For the FAA, the airlines and manufacturers, the pilots and passengers...Safety is our common goal, our shared principle, and our north star.

    Its not just good business its the only business.

    When you look at every important issue the FAA has tackled over the years from decreasing the risk of commercial aviation crashes to modernizing our air traffic control system our success has always depended on our close partnership with industry.

    By working together, weve achieved more faster than we ever could on our own.

    Now, were ushering in a new age of American aviation: the unmanned aircraft era. And its moving at a quicker pace than anything weve seen before.

    Back in January, I attended CES in Las Vegas for the second time. And I was struck, not only by the creativity on display, but by how much had changed since my last visit.

    If you can dream it, drone manufacturers are building it. Some of the latest models can sense and avoid obstacles in their paths. Others can fit in your pocket, or be used under water. A few have even automated the selfie game.

    I understand that Helicopter Association International has even started a special drone membership.

    Many in that industry have even begun looking at ways that drones can augment the tasks they do with helicopters, particularly in cases where drones can accomplish a task without putting human lives at risk.

    Innovations throughout the small unmanned aircraft community have captured peoples imaginations. And Im sure its what inspired many of you to attend this event.

    I see quite a few familiar faces here today. But there are also a lot of new ones and thats good news for us.

    Because as we continue to incorporate drones into our airspace, the people in this room and the organizations you represent are going to be more important than ever before.

    Im going to be leading a panel on the FAAs unmanned aircraft integration efforts in a few minutes. Well be covering some of our greatest hits, which Im sure many of you are familiar with.

    We finalized a rule that allows people to fly unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes under specific conditions, and weve issued more than 37,000 Remote Pilot Certificates to date.

    We set up an online drone registry thats received 770,000 registrations and counting in a little over 15 months.

    The B4UFLY app, which we created to let people know where its safe and legal to fly a drone, has been downloaded more than 200,000 times.

    And our No Drone Zone public education campaign has helped keep events like the Inauguration and Super Bowl safe.

    Im proud of this record, and how quickly we achieved it.

    But Im going to say something thats likely to give my colleagues heartburn: This was the easy stuff.

    As we move toward fully integrating unmanned aircraft into our airspace, the questions we need to answer are only getting more complicated.

    Theres tremendous interest in expanding operations so that unmanned aircraft can be flown over people, and beyond visual line of sight.

    Its not hard to see why: drones could provide a whole new perspective on both our cities and some of the most remote areas of the country.

    But introducing these operations into our airspace also introduces a unique set of challenges.

    There are obvious safety questions. What happens to people on the ground if a drone flying overhead fails?

    Then there are security concerns. How can we make sure unmanned aircraft dont gain access to sensitive sites? And after seeing how drones can be used for ill-intent overseas, how can we ensure similar incidents dont happen here?

    These arent questions the FAA can or should answer alone.

    All of those greatest hits I mentioned earlier were only possible because of the work we did with the people in this room.

    And as we tackle these new safety and security challenges, were turning to you once again.

    In the coming weeks, we will begin bringing the industry and national security leadership together to address these issues.

    We hope to create a mutual understanding about the governments security concerns, and discuss how we can collaborate to address them. Look for more details on this in the near future.

    Were also launching a new Aviation Rulemaking Committee made up of a diverse group of aviation, technology, law enforcement, and safety stakeholders that will help us create standards for remotely identifying and tracking unmanned aircraft during operations.

    This is one of the law enforcement communitys top concerns, and we hope the recommendations we receive will pave the way for expanded drone operations over people and beyond visual line of sight.

    These initiatives are just the most recent example of how the FAA is working with stakeholders on all aspects of integration.

    Later today, youll hear about two other industry-led groups weve formed the Drone Advisory Committee, and the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team.

    This is a very deliberate approach were taking, and I see it as having two primary benefits.

    First, were providing venues for some of the smartest people in technology and aviation to work together on the issues we all care about.

    And second, it gives us an opportunity to create a shared vision of what were trying to accomplish and how were going to get there.

    Heres the thing with having a seat at the table: it comes with a certain level of responsibility.

    We all need to have skin in the game, and be invested in producing the best possible outcomes for all parties.

    Its easy to focus on all of the bells and whistles that come with unmanned aircraft. This drone is the lightest and the smallest. This one can fly farther and faster.

    But technology can also solve some of the safety and security challenges were facing.

    For example, were already working with industry to test tools that can detect unauthorized drone operations near airports and other critical infrastructure.

    The way I see it, the more problems industry can solve itself using technology, the better.

    Youre going to do it more quickly and efficiently than the FAA ever could through regulations.

    It may surprise a few of you to hear me say that. But this isnt a new idea at our agency.

    Late last year, we completely overhauled how we certify small general aviation aircraft.

    For a long time, the FAA told manufacturers how to build a safe airplane by requiring specific technologies.

    But as companies came up with new and better ideas, our certification processes struggled to keep up.

    So we threw out the old rule book.

    Instead of prescribing certain technologies and designs, were now defining the performance objectives we want to achieve. This lets industry figure out the best and safest ways to meet them.

    We want to work with the unmanned aircraft industry in the same way.

    We know how fast youre churning out new drone designs and capabilities. And we dont want bureaucratic red tape to hamper your progress.

    On the contrary: we want to support it.

    When we all work in good faith when we all share the same safety goals we can accomplish some truly impressive things.

    Thats what this Symposium is about. Its being hosted by the FAA and AUVSI, but we have no intention of dominating the conversation.

    Instead, our goal is to provide a productive framework that allows you to engage with each other and share ideas about the future of the unmanned aircraft industry in America.

    Weve been calling this work integration, but another word for it is inclusion.

    Each of you has a unique perspective to share, and I hope youll take the opportunity to do so early and often.

    Were all going to need to roll up our sleeves. We have a lot of work to do.

    But when we get this right, well know weve helped define the next great era of aviation together.

    Thank you.


    Now Id like to welcome our first panel to the stage.

    As I said before, the FAA has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments on unmanned aircraft that wouldnt have been possible without our partnerships with industry.

    But they also required close collaboration inside the FAA between offices, and across lines of business.

    Today, Im joined by some of our senior executives, who will share how were coordinating our drone integration efforts across the agency.

    Please help me welcome:

    • Peggy Gilligan, Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety;
    • Teri Bristol, Chief Operating Officer of the Air Traffic Organization;
    • Winsome Lenfert, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Airports; and
    • Jim Eck, Assistant Administrator for NextGen.
  • Speech - NATCA CFS-Archie League Banquet Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:00:00 EST
    Administrator Michael Huerta
    Las Vegas, NV

    Remarks As Prepared For Delivery

    Thank you, Paul. Im honored to be here. I also want to thank you, Trish, and NATCA for hosting another great safety conference.

    Its always an honor and a privilege to join you at the Archie League Awards and share in your recognition of the fine work the FAA does on a daily basis.

    This is particularly true in times of crisis, when you have to solve a problem and you have to get it right the first time.

    Im particularly pleased to be joining you tonight because this is the first speech I have given since the Administration released its proposed fiscal year 2018 proposed budget last week.

    Im sure your attention like that of many in this industry is focused on a recommendation by the Administration that we develop a long-term plan for restructuring how we provide air traffic control services.

    Weve seen a number of the alphabet groups come forward with their positions on this proposal, and I know that NATCA has registered its thoughts and concerns.

    I am encouraged that we are beginning what I expect will be a serious, thoughtful dialogue on the long-term needs of the FAA.

    These conversations are extremely important as we look ahead to ensure that we provide a safe and efficient organization one that will meet the needs of the traveling public, and considers the future needs of our nations airspace.

    The job you do as controllers has changed exponentially since the days when Archie League first waved signal flags at airplanes at the edge of a runway in St. Louis.

    Throughout my tenure at the FAA, you have heard me say that we need to focus on the how. We all know what our mission is, but I have stressed that we need to change how we do business.

    Without a doubt, the path we have traveled together over the last five years has made all of us at the FAA much smarter and more nimble.

    Ill be the first to acknowledge that wed all like to move faster. We have had to deal with shutdowns, short term extensions of our authorizations and appropriations, and the daily challenges of ensuring the safety of the aviation system.

    I firmly believe that any fair review of the past few years makes clear that we have accomplished a great deal.

    ERAM is now in place throughout the system, and new technologies such as ADS-B and Data Comm are helping you do your jobs in ways that were never possible before.

    At the same time, we continue to harness the precision of satellite navigation through our Metroplex airspace projects and other efforts to replace outdated procedures with more efficient PBN routes.

    This progress is due to the collaborative approach we have taken with industry and with you, our labor partners.

    I expect well hear many points of view in the coming weeks about what happens next as we engage in these discussions.

    No matter where you are in the debate, I think we all want the same thing an air traffic system that is second to none.

    We expect to have more details when the President submits his full 2018 budget to Congress in May. In the meantime, we will continue to work with Congress on our current funding for 2017.

    A few weeks ago, I spoke to a group of aviation industry leaders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit in Washington.

    I told the group the same thing that I now share with you. This public policy conversation we are undertaking will only yield the best results if we keep the American people at the forefront.

    All you have to do is pick up an aerospace magazine or look at the latest technology blog to see that the fundamental definition of aviation has changed dramatically just in the last few years.

    True, the commercial airlines and general aviation community still make up the vast majority of what we do today, and maybe they always will.

    But weve got a whole new cast waiting in the wings. They range from small unmanned aircraft to commercial space launches and even space tourism.

    The day isnt that far off when the skies around major metropolitan cities will include a steady stream of drones delivering packages. Weve even seen a few early proposals for pilotless airborne versions of Uber or Lyft.

    And I havent even mentioned the various research projects into reducing or eliminating sonic booms that could make it possible for supersonic civilian flights across the U.S.

    One thing I am certain of is that all of these users will expect to use the National Airspace System to their benefit. Weve been calling our efforts to do this integration, but another word for that is inclusion.

    Somebody is going have to decide how to allocate this extremely valuable asset the publics airspace in an equitable and fair manner.

    If we are to succeed, none of us can be in a place where our strategy is to protect what weve already got.

    Everybodys got a valid point to make, but we arent talking about building the air traffic system of today. Were also building the air traffic system for tomorrow.

    Regardless of the structure that might take, we cant let safety take a back seat.

    Over the decades, the FAAs dedicated workforce has taken its stewardship of the nations airspace seriously. Americas unparalleled safety record is proof of both your vision and your professionalism.

    On issue after issue, NATCA has worked with us to make this happen. Together, weve addressed issues like electronic distractions, fatigue, and runway incursions, among others.

    Weve collaborated on many safety programs like ATSAP, the ATOs Top 5 Hazard List, Recurrent Training, Take a Stand for Safety, and others.

    I encourage controllers to continue to share safety information and insights with us.

    Through the non-punitive culture fostered by ATSAP, controllers have submitted more than 127,000 safety reports since the program started nine years ago.

    Those reports enabled us to more accurately identify areas of risk, and weve issued 176 corrective actions as a result.

    Risk-based safety efforts like these, and many others, reflect an understanding that everyone here can agree with-that while todays system is safe, we have to continually adapt to address emerging safety concerns.

    Your expertise makes you uniquely qualified in the upcoming debates over the future of what you do, and I look forward to seeing where the conversations take us.

    Before I close, Id like to take a moment to acknowledge the reason were here tonight and thats because some of our colleagues performed their work particularly well when it counted most.

    Id like to briefly highlight the story of one of tonights award recipients.

    This past July, a Navy F-18 fighter experienced an equipment malfunction while on the way to Asia for a training exercise.

    The pilot was forced to shut down one engine and declare an emergency. To make matters worse, the weather around the Aleutian Islands was deteriorating, with visibility down to only a quarter mile.

    To say this is a forbidding area is putting it mildly. As you may know, its the same area where they film that show The Deadliest Catch.

    The pilot needed a lifeline and he got it from Jessica Earp, a controller in our Alaska En Route Center.

    Jessicas knowledge of the Alaskan airspace and her quick thinking got this pilot safely to a runway on a tiny island in the Bering Sea.

    We are going to hear other compelling stories a little later, and I want to be the first to congratulate the winners and all of those who were nominated.

    Whether it was mechanical problems, lack of experience, inattention, or some combination of those, all of these situations led to moments in which controllers were the last line of defense between a pilot and a potentially unpleasant ending.

    These controllers would be the first to tell you that what they did was NOT heroic.

    They simply came to work that day and were presented with a situation in which they had to think quickly and make the right call.

    Theyll tell you something you already know: Every time a controller puts on that headset, he or she is one event away from getting this award next year.

    Its the nature of what you do.

    I know I speak for myself and the rest of the traveling public when I say to all of you: Im grateful youre there.

    Thank you.

  • News and Updates - Clock is Ticking for 2017 UAS Symposium Registration Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:06:23 EST

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reminds everyone there is less than a week left to register at a discounted rate for the 2017 UAS Symposium, which will take place at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, VA, from March 27 to 29.

    The FAA and Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) are co-sponsors of this years Symposium, which will bring together representatives from government, industry and academia to discuss the fast-growing unmanned aircraft (UAS) community. Nearly two dozen panels, breakout sessions and workshops are scheduled for the three-day event.

    Last years first UAS Symposium in Daytona Beach, FL, drew nearly 500 interested participants and gave the FAA wide-ranging viewpoints that are helping inform the agencys long-term planning for UAS integration. The 2017 event promises to be even more valuable for all the participants and their organizations.

    FAA Administrator Michael Huerta will deliver the keynote address on March 27. Other featured speakers include Acting FAA Deputy Administrator Victoria Wassmer, AUVSI President & CEO Brian Wynne and FAA UAS Integration Office Director Earl Lawrence.

    Visit our page for more information about this years symposium and to register.

  • News and Updates - FAA Forecasts Continued Growth in Air Travel Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:00:09 EST

    March 21 The FAA today released its annual Aerospace Forecast Report Fiscal Years 2017 to 2037, which projects sustained and continued growth in nearly every aspect of air transportation from general aviation private flying to large commercial airline passenger levels.

    In commercial air travel, Revenue Passenger Miles (RPMs) are considered the benchmark for measuring aviation growth.An RPM represents one revenue passenger traveling one mile. The FAA forecast calls for system RPMs by mainline and regional air carriers to grow at an average rate of 2.4 percent per year between 2016 and 2037, with international RPMs projected for average annual increases of 3.4 percent per year. System RPMs are forecast to increase 65 percent during the 20-year forecast.

    A key new portion of the forecast focuses on the growth in the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as drones. The FAA projects the small model hobbyist UAS fleet to more than triple in size from an estimated 1.1 million vehicles at the end of 2016 to more than 3.5 million units by 2021.The commercial, non-hobbyist UAS fleet is forecast to grow from 42,000 at the end of 2016 to about 442,000 aircraft by 2021, with an upside possibility of as many as 1.6 million UAS in use by 2021.Pilots of these UAS vehicles are expected to increase from 20,000 at the end of 2016 to a range of 10 to 20 times as many by 2021.

    Predictions for small UAS are more difficult to develop given the dynamic, quickly-evolving market. The FAA has provided high and low ranges around the hobbyist forecast, reflecting uncertainty about the publics continued adoption of this new technology. The FAAs non-hobbyist (commercial) UAS fleet size forecasts contain certain broad assumptions about operating limitations for small UAS during the next five years based on the basic constraints of the existing regulations: daytime operations, within visual line of sight, and a single pilot operating only one small UAS at a time. he main difference in the high and low end of the forecasts is differing assumptions about how quickly the regulatory environment will evolve, enabling more widespread routine uses of UAS for commercial purposes.

    The FAA utilizes a variety of economic data and projections to develop its annual forecast, such as generally accepted projections for the nations Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The FAA annual forecast is consistently considered the industry-wide standard of U.S. aviation-related activities.The report looks at all facets of air travel including commercial airlines, air cargo, private general aviation, and fleet sizes.Read the FAA Aviation Forecast Fact Sheet.

  • News and Updates - Data Comm Comes to New York Thu, 16 Mar 2017 14:55:03 EST

    March16DataComm, theNextGentechnology thatenhances safety and reduces delays by dramatically improving the way air traffic controllers and pilots talk to each other, is up and running at five airports in the New York metropolitan area: JFK, LaGuardia, Newark,Teterboroand Westchester. These airports were among the first to receive the critical system upgrade.

    The new technology supplements radio voice communication, enabling controllers and pilots to transmit important information such as clearances, revised flight plans and advisories with the touch of a button.

    DataCommis helping to keep flights departing on time throughout the New York area, saidFAADeputy Assistant Administrator for NextGen Pamela Whitley. This significantly improvesflight operationsthroughout the nations airspace, since one-third of all flights in this country each day fly to, from or through New York airspace.

    Members of the mediatodaytoured the air traffic control towerat JFKand ajetBlue aircraftfor a working demonstration of DataCommfrom the perspective of controllers and pilots.Officialsfrom the FAA,jetBlue, the National AirTraffic Controllers Associationand the Professional Aviation Safety Specialistswere on hand.

    The improved efficiency provided by DataCommsavesan average of 13 minutes per flight in New York during times ofheavy trafficcongestion, typically caused by bad weather.More than 7,500 flightsreceive the benefits of DataCommeachmonth atthe New Yorkarea airports a number that continues to grow. Data Comm last year improved the flying experience for 10.6 million passengers on 70,000 flights departing from New York.

    The technology is being used by eight other U.S. operators in New York American, Alaska, Delta, Fed Ex, Southwest, United, UPS and Virgin America and 22 international airlines. DataCommis installed in 31 different types of aircraft.

    Voice communications can be time consuming and labor intensive. For example,when planes are awaiting takeoff,controllersmust use a two-way radio to issuenew routesto pilots to help them avoid bad weather.This process can take 30minutes or more,depending on how many aircraft are in line for departure. It also introduces thepotential for miscommunicationknown as readback/hearback error.

    By contrast, flight crews on planes using DataCommreceive revised flight plansfrom the controllersvia digital messages.The crews review the new clearances and accept the updated instructions with the push of a button. Planes keep their spots in the takeoff line or may even be taken out of line and sent ahead enabling them to departon time.

    DataCommis nowoperationalat 55 air traffic control towersnationwide,following a rollout that wasunder budget and more than two and ahalf years ahead of schedule.The budget savings will enable the FAA to deploy DataCommat seven airports in addition to the 55 listed below.

    Chicago OHare
    Chicago Midway
    Dallas-Ft. Worth
    Dallas Love
    Fort Lauderdale
    Houston Bush
    Houston Hobby
    Kansas City
    Las Vegas
    Los Angeles
    Minneapolis-St. Paul
    New Orleans
    New York John F. Kennedy
    New York LaGuardia
    San Juan
    St. Louis
    Salt Lake City
    San Antonio
    San Diego
    San Francisco
    San Jose
    Santa Ana
    Washington Dulles
    Washington Reagan
    Westchester County
    Windsor Locks (Bradley)

  • Testimony - Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation concerning Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Innovation, Integration, Successes, and Challenges Wed, 15 Mar 2017 00:00:00 EST

    Chairman Thune, Senator Nelson, Members of the Committee:

    Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is Earl Lawrence, Director of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office. In this role, I am responsible for the facilitation of all regulations, policies, and procedures required to support the FAA's UAS integration efforts. I also represent the FAA on the Senior Steering Group of the UAS Executive Committee focusing on coordination and alignment of efforts among key federal government agencies, and I oversee the Subcommittee of the Drone Advisory Committee.

    The Department of Transportation's (USDOT) and FAA's vision for fully integrating UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS) entails UAS operating harmoniously, side-by-side with manned aircraft in a safe and secure manner. This vision goes beyond the accommodation practices in use today, which largely rely on operational segregation to maintain systemic safety. As we work to realize this vision, the FAA intends to work incrementally to introduce UAS into the NAS after careful consideration of the safety of people and property both in the air and on the ground.

    Two years ago, the FAA appeared before this committee to discuss the status of the safe, incremental integration of UASmore commonly referred to as dronesinto the NAS, and also into the FAA. In that time, we have made significant progress toward our goal of fully integrating this new class of aircraft and their operators. This progress is the result of significant coordination efforts across the FAA. While my office serves as the focal point for external stakeholders, almost every policy and support office within the Agency has dedicated staff and resources to supporting these integration activities. Today, the United States is clearly a global leader in UAS integration, and I would like to highlight for you some examples of our accomplishments, our challenges, and our ongoing work to build upon our successes as we move forward with the next phase of UAS integration.

    Small UAS Registration
    Aircraft registration is a foundational statutory requirement that applies to all civil aircraft and promotes a culture of accountability. At the time of our last discussion, we were experiencing a huge influx of new, casual UAS userspeople who fly UAS for personal entertainment or recreation. Many of these operators do not have the basic aviation knowledge, training, or experience required for pilots of traditional manned aircraft. Growing concern about reports of UAS flying near airports and manned aircraft highlighted the need to educate these users about how to operate UAS safely as soon as possible, preferably before they began operating small UAS in the NAS.

    We knew at the outset that we would need to work with industry stakeholders in order to develop a registration process for small UAS. The Secretary of Transportation and the FAA Administrator announced the creation of a UAS Registration Task Force on October 19, 2015. This Task Force was comprised of industry representatives with a range of stakeholder viewpoints, interests, and knowledge. The group met for three days in November 2015 to develop recommendations for a small UAS registration process.

    After evaluating the Task Force's recommendations and public comments, the FAA published an Interim Final Rule on Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft on December 14, 2015. This rule established a new web-based process for small UAS registration, relieving operators of the need to use the legacy paper-based process, and took effect on December 21, 2015. The requirements stipulate that owners must register their UAS online if the combined weight of the vehicle and anything it carries is more than 0.55 lbs. and less than 55 lbs., and is flown outdoors for either recreational or non-recreational purposes, consistent with the statutory requirement for aircraft registration. Within the first two weeks of online registration opening, over 160,000 UAS owners had registered their UAS.

    The registration process serves two critical functions that will help foster a culture of safety, security, and accountability in the emerging UAS community. First, it provides a means to associate an unmanned aircraft with its owner. This helps law enforcement and regulators identify an operator more quickly in the event of an incident and ensures operators are aware that they are responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle. Secondly, and equally important, the registration process provides an opportunity to educate users about how to safely operate UAS in the NAS, including instructions to not fly near manned aircraft and always fly within visual line-of-sight, as well as an acknowledgement that flying in the nation's airspace comes with certain responsibilities and expectations. To date, over 750,000 small UAS owners have registered, including more than 40,000 in the last two weeks of December 2016. The FAA has used the registration database on three occasions to provide registrants with important, time-sensitive safety information about flying their UASduring Hurricane Matthew, wildfire season, and the Iditarod Great Sled Race.

    Small UAS Rule (Part 107)
    Building on the successful launch of the online registration system, the FAA adopted a similar approach of engagement and collaboration with industry stakeholders in the development of the first set of operating rules for small UAS, which forms the bedrock of the regulatory framework for full UAS integration. Because UAS technology is evolving at a rapid pace, a flexible regulatory framework is imperative. Our goal is to provide the basic rules for operators, not identify specific technological safety solutions that could quickly become outdated. We've achieved this goal with the final small UAS rule (14 CFR part 107), which was issued on June 21, 2016 and went into effect on August 29, 2016.

    Part 107 introduces a brand new pilot certificate that is specific for UAS operationsthe Remote Pilot Certificate. Unlike a part 61 airman certificate (certification for manned aircraft), which necessarily has more stringent requirements, an individual can obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate by passing an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center. Alternatively, if the individual holds a current non-student part 61 airman certificate, the individual may complete an online UAS training course in lieu of the knowledge test. Approximately 24,000 applicants have taken the Remote Pilot Knowledge Exam, and over 91% have passed.

    The small UAS rule has also greatly reduced the number of, and the need for, Section 333 exemptions, which the FAA used to grant case-by-case approval for certain unmanned aircraft to conduct commercial operations. Before part 107, the primary way to operate a drone for non-hobby purposes was to obtain a Section 333 exemption and an accompanying Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). The FAA issued 5,551 exemptions under Section 333.

    The provisions of part 107 are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground, as well as provide the UAS industry and operator community with the flexibility to innovate. Among other operational limits such as speed and altitude, the regulations require pilots to keep an unmanned aircraft within visual line-of-sight, fly during daylight hours, and prohibit flights over unprotected people on the ground who are not directly involved in the UAS operation.

    In keeping with our goal of a flexible framework, part 107 also allows operators to apply online for waivers and airspace authorizations to fly outside the rule's requirements, provided that they demonstrate their proposed operation may be conducted safely. This process has been used successfully to issue over 400 waivers and 2,200 airspace authorizations for UAS operations in controlled airspace, including the drone show featured during halftime at this year's Super Bowl. Part 107 allows for operations in Class G airspace without prior air traffic control authorization; operations in Class B, C, D, and E airspace (i.e. controlled airspace) may be permitted with authorization from the FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO).

    The small UAS rule provides UAS operators with unprecedented access to the NAS while also ensuring the safety of the skies, and was largely well received by the UAS industry. However, it is only the first step in the FAA's plan to integrate UAS into the NAS. Consistent with our incremental integration strategy, we intend to use a risk-based approach to facilitate expanded UAS operations, including operations over people, operations beyond visual line-of-sight, and transportation of persons and property.

    Next Steps and Challenges Ahead
    The FAA's commitment to further expanding permissible UAS operations and enabling this emerging technology to safely achieve its full potential requires resolving several key challenges. Congress recognized a number of these challenges in the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016. Before operations beyond visual line-of-sight can become routine, FAA must address risks posed by drones to other manned aircraft, as well as risks posed by
    drones during a loss-of-operator-control event. Additionally, preemption, privacy, enforcement, and securityboth physical and cyberremain key issues as UAS integration progresses.

    Technical Challenges
    One way the FAA is working to address the technical challenges presented by increasingly complex UAS operations is to support its UAS test sites in conducting critical research. One of the primary goals of the test site program is to help the FAA determine technical and operational trends that could support safety-related decision making for UAS-NAS integration. In 2016, the test sites continued to conduct research to validate key operational requirements for UAS integration, including research and testing into technology that enables UAS to detect and avoid other aircraft and obstacles, investigation of lost link causes and resolutions, and evaluation of the adequacy of ATC and communications procedures with UAS. Test site activities have also explored industry applications of UAS, such as emergency response, utility company infrastructure inspection, wildlife census, and precision agriculture.

    To complement the work being done at and by the UAS test sites, in May 2015 the FAA selected a UAS Center of Excellence (COE), led by Mississippi State University and the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE). The goal of the UAS COE is to create a cost-sharing relationship between academia, industry, and government that will focus on research areas of primary interest to the FAA and the UAS community. The FAA has received initial research results for several research topics, including airborne and ground-based collision testing, which are currently being peer reviewed by both internal and external research teams. This work fits into the FAA's overall UAS research and development portfolio, which is primarily focused on applied research to support the development of rules, policies, and procedures.

    To keep pace with the rapid increase in the number of UAS operations, and to pave the way for the full implementation of beyond visual line-of-sight operations, FAA is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and industry to develop and eventually deploy a UAS Traffic Management (UTM) System. NASA's research concept specifically considers small UAS operations below 400 feet, in airspace that contains low-density manned aircraft operations. NASA has developed a phased approach for their UTM concept, building from rural to urban and from low to high-density airspace. In April 2016, NASA coordinated with the six FAA-selected test sites to perform phase one testing of the UTM research platform. A Research Transition Team (RTT) has been established between the FAA and NASA to coordinate the UTM initiative, as the concept introduces policy, regulatory, and infrastructure implications that must be fully understood and addressed before moving forward with technology deployment. Additionally, the UTM work with NASA will inform our efforts with respect to UAS operating in proximity to airports. A second RTT has also been established with NASA, which is focused on UAS operating in higher altitude and controlled airspace, as opposed to the UTM initiative, which focuses on operations in low altitude managed airspace.

    Security and Enforcement
    As Congress recognized in the 2016 FAA Extension, the security challenges presented by UAS technology require a whole-of-government response. The FAA is working with several departments and agenciesincluding the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and othersto identify and evaluate technologies that detect and track unmanned aircraft movement through the NAS. However, technologies to detect and track unmanned aircraft movement through the NAS are only one part of the equation to address the security challenges presented by evolving UAS technologies. To adequately secure and protect the airspace we must continue to educate the public on the safe operation of UAS and work with our law enforcement partners at every level of government in responding to incidents involving threats from UAS.

    We also continue to work closely with our industry partners to evaluate these promising drone-detection technologies. As directed in Section 2206 of the 2016 FAA Extension, the FAA has established a pilot program to evaluate some of these technologies, which have been tested in airport environments at New York's JFK Airport, Atlantic City International Airport, and Denver International Airport. Further testing will take place at Dallas-Fort Worth later this year. In addition, the FAA is working with interagency partners to develop policies and procedures for restricting UAS operations over fixed site facilities, as directed by Section 2209 of the 2016 FAA Extension.

    The potential for conflicts between manned and unmanned aircraft has become a very real challenge in integrating these new technologies into the NAS. We are seeing an increased number of drone-sighting reports from pilots of manned aircraft, with approximately 1,800 reports of sightings in 2016, compared to 1,200 reports the year before. As the Federal agency responsible for the safety of the flying community, the FAA remains concerned about the increasing number of these reports. To begin addressing this issue, we are actively engaging in public education and outreach efforts, such as "Know Before You Fly" and the small UAS registration process.

    Sometimes, however, education is not enough. If an unauthorized UAS operation is intentional, creates an unacceptable risk to safety, or is intended to cause harm, strong and swift enforcement action will be taken. Recently, we announced a comprehensive settlement agreement with a UAS operator that violated airspace regulations and aircraft operating rules by flying drones in congested airspace over New York City and Chicago. However, one of the enforcement challenges we often face is identifying the operator of a UAS flying where it shouldn't. This Committee has recognized that challenge with Section 2202 of the 2016 FAA Extension, which directs the FAA to convene industry stakeholders to develop consensus standards for remotely identifying UAS operators. We plan to begin convening stakeholders this spring.

    Continued engagement with the law enforcement community is paramount to ensuring public safety. In January 2015, the FAA published guidance for the law enforcement community on its UAS Web site, and has been actively engaging with law enforcement agencies at local, State, and Federal levels to reduce confusion about how to respond to UAS events. The FAA encourages citizens to call local law enforcement if they feel someone is endangering people or property on the ground or in the sky. Local law enforcement should then work with local FAA field offices to ensure these safety issues are addressed.

    Continued Engagement with Industry
    As the FAA moves forward with UAS integration, we will continue to involve all stakeholders in framing challenges, prioritizing activities, and developing consensus solutions. By leveraging this expertise, we ensure that the FAA maintains its position as the global leader in aviation safety. Last summer, we formed the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). Its members include representatives from industry, government, labor, and academia. The DAC will allow us to look at drone use from every angle, while considering the different viewpoints and needs of the diverse UAS community.

    The first DAC meeting was held in September 2016 and its members have already started to work on assisting us in two key areas: identifying the roles and responsibilities of drone operators, manufacturers, and Federal, state, and local officials related to drone use in populated areas; and determining what the highest-priority UAS operations are and how we can enable access to the airspace needed to conduct these operations. The FAA recently created a new tasking concerning a third key area: how to fund the full complement of services required to safely integrate UAS operations into the NAS in the long-term. We look forward to receiving and reviewing the DAC's recommendations.

    In October 2016, we also began working with industry to form an Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST), modeled after the very successful Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST). This group's mission is to collect and use UAS operational data to identify safety risks, and then develop and voluntarily implement mitigation strategies to address those risks. The group is currently working on several projects, including helping the FAA develop a survey to the UAS operator community.

    Apart from our work with the DAC and the UAST, the FAA held its first UAS symposium in Daytona Beach, Florida in April last year. The symposium provided a forum for UAS stakeholders to provide feedback directly to FAA decision-makers on topics related to UAS integration. Nearly 500 attendees heard keynote remarks from the FAA Administrator and Deputy Administrator, and participated in discussions on topics ranging from aircraft and pilot certification to legal and policy issues related to UAS operations and integration.

    Our second UAS symposium will be held in the Washington D.C. area on March 27-29, 2017. Conversations will touch on the more significant challenges that integration presents, including the intersection of privacy and preemption, the importance of harmonizing international regulations, and the array of new safety and security risks associated with increased UAS operations. The symposium will also have a Resource Center to provide attendees with one-on-one technical support on authorizations, waivers, Part 107 requirements, and other policies and regulations.

    Building on Our Success
    Moving forward, we intend to build on the progress that we have made this past year with two notable initiatives currently underway. We are developing a Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) to automate the process for UAS operators to notify Air Traffic Control of flights within five miles of an airport center or to get authorization to fly in certain classes of airspace. This initiative will be the first step toward implementing UTM. As part of LAANC, the FAA will publish UAS facility maps that indicate likely safe altitudes for UAS flight and distances around airports. Industry applications will facilitate interaction with the maps and may provide automatic notification to the FAA and operational authorization to UAS operators through data exchange. Data received by the FAA may be used by Air Traffic Control to contact the operator in the event of an emergency. On February 1, 2017, the FAA held the first in a series of industry workshops to discuss this initiative in greater detail, and recently released a sample of 10 facility maps to the industry partners involved in LAANC.

    The second initiative is to develop an integrated gatewaya common web portal and associated APIthat will serve as a one-stop-shop for all UAS interactions with the FAA. It will allow UAS owners and operators to register their aircraft, apply for an airspace authorization or waiver, file an accident report, and keep abreast of the latest FAA news and announcements concerning UAS. This gateway will be designed for desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones, and will serve as the platform for future communications with the FAA as UAS rules and regulations evolve.

    The progress that we have made, in particular during the past year, might have seemed unimaginable not long ago. From the beginning, we knew that we had to engage our stakeholders, and it paid off with the creation of a UAS registry and the successful implementation of a flexible regulatory framework to enable routine small UAS operations. Our collaborative working relationships with the DAC and UAST will help inform and prioritize integration activities, ensure we remain engaged with industry trends, and maintain clear channels of communication to convey expectations and solicit feedback. We know, however, that these accomplishments are only the first step. As reinforced in the 2016 FAA Extension, there are many important issues yet to be addressed and we will continue to work with our stakeholders as we move forward.

    This concludes my statement. I will be happy to answer your questions at this time.

  • News and Updates - Data Comm Now Reducing Delays at Miami Mon, 06 Mar 2017 11:14:25 EST

    March 6 Data Comm, the NextGen technology that is revolutionizing communication between air traffic controllers and pilots, is now helping to enhance safety and reduce departure delays at Miami International Airport, the 12th busiest airport in North America and the largest gateway to Latin America.

    The new technology supplements radio voice communication, enabling controllers and pilots to transmit important information including clearances, revised flight plans and advisories with the touch of a button.

    Data Comm represents a whole new era of communications between controllers and pilots, said Jim Eck, the FAAs Assistant Administrator for NextGen. This translates directly into safer, more efficient operations, helping aircraft take off and reach their destinations on time.

    Voice communications can be time consuming and labor intensive. For example, when planes are awaiting takeoff, controllers must use a two-way radio to issue new routes to the pilots to help them avoid bad weather. This process can take 30 minutes or more, depending on how many aircraft are in line for departure, and also has the potential for miscommunication known as readback/hearback error.

    By contrast, flight crews on planes using Data Comm receive revised flight plans from the controllers via digital messages. The crews review the new clearances and accept the updated instructions with the push of a button. Planes keep their spots in the takeoff line or may even be taken out of line and sent ahead enabling them to depart on time.

    Data Comm is now operational at 55 air traffic control towers, following a rollout that was under budget and more than two and a half years ahead of schedule:

    Chicago OHare
    Chicago Midway
    Dallas-Ft. Worth
    Dallas Love
    Fort Lauderdale
    Houston Bush
    Houston Hobby
    Kansas City
    Las Vegas
    Los Angeles
    Minneapolis-St. Paul
    New Orleans
    New York John F. Kennedy
    New York LaGuardia
    San Juan
    St. Louis
    Salt Lake City
    San Antonio
    San Diego
    San Francisco
    San Jose
    Santa Ana
    Washington Dulles
    Washington Reagan
    Westchester County
    Windsor Locks (Bradley)

  • Speech - NASAO Legislative Conference Thu, 02 Mar 2017 00:00:00 EST
    Administrator Michael Huerta
    Washington, DC

    Remarks as prepared for delivery

    Good afternoon, everyone. Its great to be back addressing NASAO again.

    The world looks a lot different than it did the last time I spoke here.

    President Trump has taken office and as with any new administration, there are a number of changes happening across the federal government and at the FAA.

    So Id like to start off today by providing a brief update on where things stand.

    As you know, Elaine Chao was recently confirmed as Secretary of Transportation.

    She comes to us with a wealth of experience in the public sector. She formerly served as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation under President George H.W. Bush, and the Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush.

    Secretary Chao is in the process of building her team at the Department of Transportation. About 100 political appointees have or will be joining DOT in the coming weeks, and well be welcoming a number of them to the FAA.

    I've had the opportunity to meet with the Secretary frequently since she assumed her new role. She has shared that her top priorities for DOT are safety, infrastructure, and innovation. These are topics we obviously know a lot about at the FAA.

    Still, this is obviously a period of change for our agency. New administrations always mean new agendas and priorities and theres a lot we still dont know.

    What we do know, however, is that our mission remains the same: to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.

    And in order to continue meeting that mission, we need the right tools and resources.

    We all know how vital aviation is to our national interests. Its estimated to support nearly 11 million jobs and account for more than five percent of our Gross Domestic Product and $1.6 trillion in total economic activity.

    Supporting this industry is important to all of us at the national, state, and local level.

    President Trump has said he wants to invest in Americas airports, which is great news.

    We hope to see this commitment reflected in our budget and the FAA bill that Congress will take up this year.

    Were also likely to see a major public policy debate play out about the upgrades being made to our air traffic control system, how its being managed, and who should pay for it.

    The FAA must and will play an active role in this conversation.

    Ill be recommending to the new Administration that we proactively put forward our own reauthorization proposal.

    It should be a plan that helps us build on our safety record, integrate new entrants like drones into our airspace, and continue modernizing our air traffic control system.

    All of you have been essential partners in these modernization efforts. NextGen isnt an FAA project, or an airline project its redefining air traffic control nationwide and delivering benefits in all of your states.

    The FAA can demonstrate that it has already delivered more than $2.7 billion in NextGen benefits. We expect that number to climb to $160 billion by 2030.

    And for programs already underway, we expect to achieve $13 billion in benefits by 2020. At that point, the benefits will exceed our projected investment in NextGen.

    One of the key reasons weve been successful is because of the work weve done with stakeholders through the NextGen Advisory Committee.

    Weve worked closely with industry and leaders at the state and local level to prioritize our investments and deliver the benefits they need most.

    This led us to complete the nationwide rollout of Data Comm more than two years ahead of schedule, for example.

    So the facts speak for themselves: NextGen is succeeding. Were delivering benefits. And our progress is being recognized by industry.

    The work were doing on NextGen is only one part of a larger cultural change taking place at the FAA.

    From its earliest days, aviation has always been defined by innovation. It needs to define our agency, as well.

    Ive been taking that message to every office at every level of the FAA. And were seeing results in a wide variety of ways.

    In December, we issued a final rule overhauling the FAAs airworthiness standards for small general aviation airplanes.

    Theres a simple idea at the heart of these new certification standards: we dont want to tell manufacturers how to build things.

    Instead of requiring certain technologies or designs, were defining the performance objectives we want to achieve.

    This approach recognizes that theres more than one way to deliver on safety. It provides room for flexibility and innovation in the marketplace. And it will allow American businesses to create good manufacturing jobs and better compete in the global market.

    Were not just rethinking how airplanes get designed and built. Were also looking at what goes into them.

    By working closely with industry, weve made a tremendous amount of progress in the development and deployment of alternative jet fuel.

    Over the last seven years, five new drop-in fuels have been approved that are all safe to use in todays aircraft fleet, and additional fuels are under evaluation.

    These fuels come from a wide variety of resources everything from fats and oils, to sugar and cellulose, to solid and gas waste.

    Fuel costs are also decreasing. While early efforts produced fuel at $60 a gallon, some are now coming in at about $3 a gallon.

    These new fuels, which a number of operators are beginning to use, offer a tremendous opportunity not only for the industry, but for reducing aviations impact on the environment.

    Opportunity drives so much of the innovation happening in aviation today. This industry has never been content with what we have its always focused on whats possible.

    Nowhere are we seeing this more than in commercial space.

    Space transportation is more popular than its ever been. Were seeing more vehicles, carrying more types of payloads, launching from more sites.

    In fact, weve had a 55 percent increase in the number of launch applications compared to this time last year.

    With all this growth comes added complexity. So the FAA is looking into new and better ways to integrate these operations into our airspace.

    Until now, weve considered commercial space launches to be rare events. So weve blocked off huge portions of airspace each time a launch occurs.

    We know this isnt sustainable. And were working to develop a traffic management system that will allow us to more efficiently block off and release air space so these operations can become a more regular part of our larger air traffic system.

    Were also examining how we should classify spaceports.

    Theres a wide range of vehicles that could potentially operate from a commercial space launch site. But not every one of these vehicles can be safely accommodated at every spaceport.

    We need to work with industry and your states to discuss how to develop a system for categorizing the various types of spaceports being considered. This will help provide greater clarity on the availability and usage of these sites.

    I hope youll play an active role in these conversations.

    Of course, we cant talk about integrating new users into our airspace without mentioning drones.

    I know Hoot Gibson spoke earlier, so I dont want to spend too much time on this topic.

    But I do want to thank NASAO and its members for supporting our work on unmanned aircraft.

    Last year, we formed a Drone Advisory Committee to help us prioritize our unmanned aircraft integration activities over the long term, including the development of future regulations and policies.

    It includes representatives from the technology and aviation industries, labor organizations, academia, and state and local governments. NASAO is well-represented.

    David Greene from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is serving as a member, and John Eagerton from the Alabama Department of Transportation is heading up one of the Committees task groups.

    At the DAC's meeting last month, the group discussed the roles and responsibilities of Federal, state, and local governments when it comes to regulating drone operations in low-altitude airspace.

    They also considered airspace access, and identifying the highest-priority unmanned aircraft operations beyond those that are currently permitted.

    And they started to look into the issue of funding how best to pay for the services required to integrate unmanned aircraft into our airspace.

    At the Committees next meeting in May, well be receiving their initial recommendations on these topics. And their feedback will be essential to the FAAs unmanned aircraft efforts moving forward.

    Of course, drones arent the only emerging technologies were dealing with.

    Remote towers, which use video and surveillance technology to take the place of a manned air traffic control tower, could potentially open up new areas to air service where it wouldnt otherwise be economically feasible.

    This technology is already being used in other countries to offer air traffic services.

    And the FAA has been proud to work closely with our partners in Virginia and Colorado to test these remote tower capabilities.

    With all of this innovation happening in aviation, its no surprise that it captures the attention of a number of young people.

    I heard a story on NPR recently about a group of kids from Chicago who got to take a trip to Washington. For many of them, it was their first time leaving Chicago.

    The reporter went along for the ride and noted how everything was new to them. While the seasoned travelers were probably only paying casual attention to the pre-flight safety briefing, these kids were riveted to every word.

    It was apparently a cloudy day, so when the plane finally broke free of the clouds, one of the kids shouted, Were in the blue!

    We often get so caught up in the mechanics of what we do the politics, the technology, the infrastructure. It can be easy to lose our sense of wonder for flight.

    But that sense of wonder is what creates the enthusiasm for aviation that is going to help continue propelling our industry forward.

    The FAA has made it a priority to reach out to the next generation through a number of education initiatives.

    Weve hosted Aviation Career Education Academies across the country, which introduce kids to the many careers available in our industry.

    And last year, our Aviation and Space Education Program reached nearly 18,000 students with activities supporting STEM subjects.

    I know this is also a priority for NASAO and your Chairman, Brad Brandt. And Im proud that weve been able to work together on it.

    Most recently, NASAO, the FAA, and other industry partners selected two top aerospace educators for award recognition. And weve been happy to help promote NASAOs International Art Contest, which challenges students to illustrate the importance of aviation through art.

    The FAA and NASAO have a long history of cooperation and collaboration, in this and countless other areas.

    In fact, well be signing a new Memorandum of Understanding that reinforces this relationship in just a few minutes.

    During this period of transition, our partnership will be more important than ever.

    We have a new President, a new Transportation Secretary, and a new Congress. In the coming months, well be considering some of the most fundamental questions about our nations aviation system.

    I hope youll make your voices heard.

    Thank you.

  • Speech - U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit Thu, 02 Mar 2017 00:00:00 EST
    Administrator Michael Huerta
    Washington, D.C.

    Good morning.

    Its an honor to be joining you today at the 16th annual U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit.

    And I would like to recognize Carol Hallett who thought a couple of decades ago that the business community should sponsor an aviation summit. Carol, may I say that you have succeeded beyond what anyone could have imagined. Congratulations and thank you for bringing us all together at this cant miss forum.

    A couple of my predecessors are here today Allan McArtor and Marion Blakey.

    Now, Im sure theyd both agree that on the good days, being FAA Administrator is one of the best jobs in aviation.

    On the rare bad day, its probably more like being the CEO of an airline during the 1990s.

    In all seriousness, its always a pleasure to speak to a group that shares an abiding passion for aviation.

    You recognize that a safe and vibrant transportation system is the lifeblood of our nations economy, and aviation ties us closer together than ever.

    Each day, more than 50,000 commercial airliners and general aviation airplanes take off and land safely in the U.S., connecting people and ideas.

    The people in this room make that happen.

    Im sure youve all seen the workplace signs that say Safety is No Accident. As you all know, when it comes to aviation, safety is intentional.

    Every day, thousands of professionals across the nation come to work knowing that their primary responsibility is to make sure everything goes smoothly on their watch.

    Today, because of the work we have done together we can all take a certain amount of pride in saying that aviation has never been safer.

    In fact, during the span of most of our careers, flying in the United States has become exponentially safer in part because of your willingness to tackle some very tough challenges.

    As an agency and as an industry weve made significant strides because weve collaborated as a community.

    This is of course most evident in the safety record we have achieved as a result of the work of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team. And we have now expanded those collaborative efforts to look at a broad range of operational challenges.

    Early in my tenure, it became clear to me that modernizing the nations air traffic management system was much more than deploying a new technology platform. It requires fundamental changes in how all of us do business and a constant focus on how we deliver benefits.

    We formed the NextGen Advisory Committee to enable us to set priorities and to deliver real benefits. Then, last year when we needed collaboration with traditional aviation leaders and new entrants to our community, we created the Drone Advisory Committee to help us tackle complex challenges.

    Without a doubt, the path we have traveled together makes all of us at the FAA much smarter and more nimble.

    My focus is to ensure the FAA fulfills its safety and oversight responsibilities within a framework that recognizes that innovation never stops.

    At every turn, Ive emphasized that we at the FAA share a common goal with those we regulate. We all want to leave our children a legacy that ensures the U.S. aerospace system is second to none.

    Which brings me to the thoughts I wanted to share with you today.

    Its certainly the case that virtually everyone in this room recognizes that today we are operating the largest, most complex and safest air transportation system in the world.

    I suspect it is also true that many in this room have engaged in debates during the past decades about just how our air traffic management system could best be structured.

    From my perspective, discussing alternative approaches when our aviation community is strong and our system is being safely and effectively modernized through our NextGen initiatives represents the right time to be asking critical questions.

    Along with my FAA colleagues, I am eager to engage in a full and honest review of the path we have traveled with many of you in this room to modernize the air traffic management system.

    While Ill be the first to acknowledge that wed all like to move faster, I also firmly believe that any fair review of the past few years makes clear that our work together has been critical to the success of the tremendous progress we have made to revamp our air traffic system with the latest technologies.

    We are ready today to move away from ground-based radars and make the transition to our GPS-based ADS-B network.

    And we look forward to the January 1, 2020, deadline when all of our customers will have the necessary ADS-B equipment installed in their airplanes.

    Meanwhile, the core computer systems in all our enroute centers have been replaced with modern hardware and software.

    This new backbone is capable of incorporating every planned aspect of our ongoing modernization for decades to come.

    Notice that I said ongoing.

    The FAA can demonstrate that it has already delivered more than $2.72 billion in benefits under the NextGen modernization umbrella.

    We expect that number to climb to $160 billion by 2030.

    And for programs already underway, we expect to achieve $13 billion in benefits by 2020, at which time the benefits will exceed the projected investment in NextGen.

    One of the reasons actually, a key reason weve been successful rests with a group I mentioned earlier.

    Through our NextGen Advisory Committee or the NAC, as we call it the FAA and the industry have worked closely to identify and deliver the capabilities that matter most to the customers.

    From its inception, the NAC has been led by senior airline executives with an intimate understanding of our shared challenges and opportunities.

    In fact, our newest NAC chairman, David Bronczek, of FedEx, is here today. Dave, thank you for your willingness to put in the enormous amount of effort it takes to keep up with the broad range of improvements in the pipeline.

    For those of you who dont follow NextGen on a daily basis, Id like to bring you up to speed on one unqualified success story.

    Last year at the request of the NAC we focused a tremendous amount of effort on getting a technology called Data Comm into as many control towers as possible.

    Data Comm allows air traffic controllers and pilots to communicate electronically, rather than by voice over busy air traffic frequencies.

    At the beginning of 2016, Data Comm was operational at five airports. Today, its up and running at 55 towers nationwide.

    For those of you keeping score at home, we are now 29 months ahead of schedule and under budget. We are planning to use those savings to install Data Comm in an additional seven towers.

    So, weve come a long way from those years when our aviation agenda was defined by a fundamental challenge: How do we persuade the public that flying is safe?

    In fact, by 2008, we had succeeded in reducing the commercial fatality risk by 84 percent from what it had been just a decade before.

    Now, thats a big number.

    Its even more impressive when you consider that had we done nothing the experts predicted wed be experiencing a serious incident or accident every two weeks by now.

    But, we know that this doesnt mean we can all slap each other on the backs and go play some golf. We can never let our guard down when it comes to safety.

    The moment safety takes a back seat or even scoots over to let some other factor into the drivers seat weve lost the battle.

    So where do we go from here?

    Before I was asked to become the FAAs Deputy Administrator in 2010, I was the president of a major division of a Fortune 500 company with experience in successfully fielding large, technology and infrastructure projects.

    I want to put that hat back on for just a minute and report what Ive found during my expedition into this wilderness of government bureaucracy and politics.

    During the past three years, the FAA has been undergoing a noticeable cultural change as it has embraced what has truly been a fundamental redefinition of the term aviation.

    For decades, aviation was defined as conventional aircraft doing what theyve always done: Flying from Point A to Point B as seamlessly as possible.

    Today, a host of new users want to do the same thing, but with small unmanned aircraft or commercial rocket launches.

    All of our constituents are looking to the FAA to allow them to fly when and where they want, and to do so safely and efficiently.

    As the steward of the National Airspace System, the FAA must find a way to balance these often-competing priorities. We must make sure that one of our nations most valuable assets the air over our heads remains safe and available to all Americans.

    This balancing act has raised important questions about how our air traffic control system should be operated and who should pay for it.

    And, this balancing act is further complicated when you realize that our success in some areas has impacts on our funding structure.

    We have been spending a lot of time and money in developing efficient performance based navigation procedures. Better, quiet, more efficient engines reduce costs and emissions. But while PBN and better engine technology also greatly reduce fuel burn a good thing they also reduce fuel taxes which are an important contributor to the aviation trust fund that supports the FAA.

    New users of the airspace with aircraft that are unmanned do not pay fees today.

    Those who carry freight versus people pay varying charges. And, business aircraft pay widely varying charges while flying many of the same routes to the same destinations as commercial aircraft.

    I think its fair to say that everybody has a point here. The question is: how do we have this conversation in a way that achieves a solution that works for all of us?

    What will the airspace system look like in 10 years when those operators might also include an airborne version of Uber or Lyft?

    Or when space tourists are taking suborbital flights on a daily basis from spaceports scattered across the country some of them along heavily traveled transcontinental commercial routes?

    These are public policy matters that must be addressed by all of our stakeholders.

    I can tell you what most interests me and will be needed by future Administrators.

    • A steady and reliable funding source;
    • Access to capital for infrastructure projects
    • Flexibility to utilize the funds in our accounts where needed most; And,
    • the freedom to make major purchasing decisions without all of the current impediments.

    There is no business that would invest in major infrastructure projects without some ability to borrow. No business would invest in new facilities without at least exploring third party financing or innovative development approaches.

    So heres my challenge to you: Lets find a way to collaboratively solve these questions.

    Lets find a solution that reflects the best interests of the American people and protects the safety and flexibility of this extremely valuable public asset.

    Like our predecessors who came together six decades ago to make sure the worlds most glamorous and exciting form of transportation was also safe, we are at a decision point.

    Obviously, we have myriad challenges. But we also have choices. We can each focus our energy on trying to protect what weve got which frankly, is a shortsighted approach.

    This industry was founded on the principle that we have the intellectual depth and strength of character to accomplish the impossible.

    Today, tens of thousands of commercial flights, operating from a vast network of airports spanning 3.8 million square miles in the U.S. alone, will take off and land safely.

    The vast majority will leave their gates on time and theyll arrive on time. Theyll operate throughout their journeys under the watchful eyes of professional air traffic controllers in an air transportation system that is second to none.

    And, as anyone who has ever tried to load up the family minivan and back out of the driveway even close to being on time will remind you:

    Doing what we are doing today in aviation is pretty darn close to already doing the impossible.

    Thank you for inviting me to be with you today. More importantly, thank you for working with me and my 46,000 colleagues to build and support the largest and most complex and the safest air transportation systems in the world!

    Have a great conference.

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