"Sun N' Fun Meet the Administrator"
Michael Huerta, Lakeland, FL
March 30, 2012

Sun N' Fun

Remarks as Prepared by Delivery


  • I’m delighted to make my first visit to Sun ‘n Fun.  It’s great to see this kind of enthusiasm for aviation.  It’s admittedly a shorter visit than I’d like, but it was important to me to visit with you…even with the long journey that Doug mentioned.
  • I am honored to serve as the FAA’s Acting Administrator.  My predecessor, Randy Babbitt, was a tremendous leader who did a great deal for the FAA, as well as for the safety of our nation’s aviation system.  He is truly missed, but he left a very positive legacy. 
  • I don’t know how long I will be in the “acting” position.  The White House and Secretary LaHood have told me that I have their complete confidence to move onward – and we certainly have plenty to do.


  • Safety is the FAA’s top priority, and so I want to note a few areas where the FAA is working very productively with the GA community on key initiatives.
    - First is the Aviation Rulemaking Committee on part 23, airworthiness standards for normal, acrobatic, utility, and commuter category airplanes.  I understand that this work is going very well. 
    - Second is the Aviation Rulemaking Committee on Airman Testing Standards and Training, which is almost finished with its work to help us improve FAA airman certification and testing standards.
    - Third is the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which recently provided– recommendations for the FAA’s review.
  • I also want to express appreciation for the work that the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee is doing. 
  • Our joint efforts – especially the ongoing work to help reduce loss of control accidents – will help us achieve our 2018 goal for reducing fatal GA accidents.
  • On that subject, we still have a lot of work to do.  We are seeing far too many fatal accidents in general aviation.
  • I want to take this opportunity to reinforce the importance of doing everything you can possibly do to make a difference in GA safety.
  • Following the rules is a step in the right direction, but safety requires a lot more than rule-driven rote behavior.  It takes discipline.  It takes skill.  And it takes knowledge.  I am counting on you to make a difference by making sure you are the best that you can be.
  • One way you can make a difference:  Attend the FAA Safety Team’s 2012 Safety Standdown, which starts right here on Saturday.   The focus this year is on preventing loss of control accidents, and I know the FAASTeam has prepared a great program. 
  • I also encourage you to take a copy of the March/April  FAA Safety Briefing magazine from the tables in back and the Safety Forum area.  The articles match up with the Safety Standdown, and it will be a great reference.


  • Now let me talk about one of the FAA’s most important safety initiatives:  NextGen, which is the Next Generation air transportation system.  NextGen involves the complete transformation of our system from the ground-based navigation of the last century to the satellite-based navigation of tomorrow.
  • NextGen capabilities and technologies are vital to the safe and efficient aviation system our nation needs.  Civil aviation contributes $1.3 trillion to our economy and generates more than 10 million jobs. NextGen is vital to protecting these contributions. The current system just can’t accommodate the level of growth we expect to see
  • There are a lot of people who think NextGen is about the far-off future.   But many components of NextGen are in place, and NextGen is showing results today.   
  • Raise your hand if you have ever flown a WAAS-enabled RNAV GPS approach, such as an LPV approach.  If you raised your hand, then you’re already benefiting from the satellite-based navigation elements of NextGen.  And I bet you’d agree that the investment you made to equip your aircraft paid off the first time it got you into the airport where you wanted to land.
  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, is another investment that will pay off in terms of safety, efficiency, and situational awareness – not only for air traffic control, but also for you
  • ATC uses ADS-B to improve surveillance and separation, and to provide those services in areas that radar can’t reach.  That’s why we are requiring ADS-B Out by 2020 to operate in certain kinds of airspace.  
  • But ADS-B In can provide some very important additional benefits to pilots.  How many of you fly flown with on-board traffic information, or a weather data-link? 
  • ADS-B In will provide traffic and weather information, with no need for a subscription.  It may not take long for the cost of new equipment to pay for itself in savings from the monthly or quarterly subscriptions.  
  • Another reason to put ADS-B on your upgrade list:  A lot of the efficiencies we expect depend on a system where most aircraft are using them.  The best equipped aircraft will be best placed to benefit. 
  • Overall, everyone will benefit from the airspace management efficiencies we can get from use of ADS-B and other NextGen technologies.

Reauthorization and Budget

  • Our ability to advance NextGen and other initiatives depends on funding.  This is going to be a demanding year.  With a constrained budget environment and an election year, everything we do gets a lot more scrutiny.  
  • But there is some very good news.  In February the President signed the FAA reauthorization bill.  It ends a four-and-a-half year series of 23 short-term extensions. 
  • We are still in the process of working through all the program and budget implications.  But one thing is for sure:  the four-year reauthorization provides stability that will enhance safety, create jobs and help us implement NextGen.
  • In addition, the Administration rolled out the President’s proposed FY 2013 budget for $15.2 billion.  It allows us to execute plans for ATC and aviation safety, as well as research and development, capital investment in airport infrastructure, and FAA facilities and equipment.  
  • As you may have heard, one of the provisions in the FAA’s reauthorization requires us to accelerate the full integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems – UAS – into the National Airspace System, or NAS. 
  • Safety is our top priority, so our focus when evaluating UAS operations is to avoid situations in which a UAS would endanger other users of the NAS, or compromise the safety of persons or property on the ground. 
  • There are a lot of integration challenges ahead, but the FAA has a proven track record of introducing new technology and aircraft safely into the NAS.  So I am confident that we will succeed in this area as well. 


  • Thanks again for inviting me here today – it’s a great show, and what’s not to like about Florida in March?
  • I look forward to your comments and questions, and to seeing a little bit of what makes Sun ‘n Fun so special.  And I hope to be able to spend more time here next year,even that survey form?even