"Meeting the Challenges of the Future"
Michael Huerta, Washington, DC
September 28, 2011

U.S.-China Aviation Symposium

Thank you, Dorenda (Baker).  It's a pleasure to be here today for the U.S.-China Aviation Symposium, and I especially want to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Xia, Deputy Administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, and his delegation.  I was privileged to visit China last May, and it is a pleasure to reciprocate by hosting your visit to Washington.  I am also glad for the opportunity to join in this discussion on future aviation challenges – there are many, and there is much that we can learn from each other.

To that end, I would like to share some thoughts today about our integrated vision for the next 15 years, a plan we call Destination 2025.  Our core objectives – safety, efficiency, professionalism, and public confidence – are at the heart of the Destination 2025 framework.  The goal is to define and communicate the path we are taking to ensure that the FAA can meet the demands of a new century of aviation. 

The Destination 2025 vision captures the ideal future we want to achieve, which is to transform the nation's aviation system so that air traffic will move more safely, swiftly, efficiently, and seamlessly around the globe. In our vision, flights will take off and land on time, every time, without delay.  There will be no fatal accidents. Air travel will be routine and uneventful for passengers, crews, ground support, and communities. Costs will be contained for both operators and passengers.  There will be no negative impact to the environment. Manned and unmanned flights will achieve safe flight, along with commercial launches to space.

The 2025 vision is built upon five specific objectives:

  • Increase Aviation Safety
  • Create the Workplace of Choice
  • Deliver Aviation Access through Innovation
  • Sustain Our Future
  • Improve Global Performance through Collaboration

Let me take a moment to describe the objectives most relevant to our discussion today. 

First is safety, which is FAA's top priority. In our vision for 2025, we will transform the way we assure safety by expanding our safety culture in ways that improve standards and oversight. We will manage risk by using data to identify hazards and mitigate risk. 

Another area is innovation – which always has been, and will continue to be, an integral part of aviation itself.  Growth in air travel means that we need to find new ways to manage the system, which is vital to the global economy, and to improve the travel experience.  Our vision is to develop and deploy innovations that will reduce costs and energy use, minimize delays, preserve and secure needed infrastructure, and match capacity to demand.

A third part of our vision for 2025 is to advance aviation in a way that is environmentally responsible and energy efficient. That means we need to minimize noise and emission impacts on communities, reduce aviation's carbon footprint, foster sustainable alternative fuels research, and advance other solutions that promote an environmentally friendly aviation industry.

One of our primary strategies for achieving these goals and meeting the aviation challenges of the future is our Next Generation Air Transportation System, also known as NextGen.  Through NextGen, we are undertaking the transformation of our entire aviation system – technology, leadership and our overall philosophy for safely moving aircraft.  It is one of the most important ways to improve safety, efficiency, and the environment.   

For those who think NextGen is about the distant future, I want to stress that this technology is already taking us to the next level of safety and efficiency, and it is also helping us to make aviation more friendly to the environment.  We see tangible examples of how the increasing use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, is paying off in terms of safety, efficiency, and situational awareness.  Airlines are benefiting from the expanding number of performance-based navigation procedures for all phases of flight – departure, en route, and arrival.  Communities are benefitting from decreased carbon emissions.  We are all reaping more benefits as we introduce new procedures and equipment. 

I am excited about the progress we are making with NextGen, and about our mutual efforts to ensure that aviation advances in a seamless and interoperable global environment.   In order to ensure that we stay on target, we have just recently restructured the NextGen program office.  In that structure, the NextGen Organization focuses on setting strategic direction, defining operational requirements, ensuring system integration, and overseeing implementation.   

Aviation is a key element in today's global economy.  We must, and we will, continue to work in partnership.  As demonstrated by events like this one, we will work with our international partners toward harmonization and the development of interoperable standards, procedures, and technologies that create a seamless global aviation system.

Thank you very much.