"Building Aviation through Partnership"
Marion C. Blakey, Quebec, Canada
May 17, 2007

North American Aviation Trilateral (NAAT/13)


Good morning, and thank you, Marc [Gregoire], for that kind and generous welcome. This gathering is one more reminder that the partnership, friendship and commitment between and among the countries of the Western Hemisphere is strong and growing stronger. The partnerships that we’re building here serve as a cornerstone for aviation. These meetings continue to build upon that and everyone who flies to and through our countries benefits.

If there’s one thing on which we all agree it’s that we need to modernize and transform our aviation system. The status quo simply will not suffice. We know that more than a billion passengers are headed our way. With our system stretched thin as it is in terms of capacity and efficiency we must find a better way to operate a better way to do business.

That way is NextGen. It will be the perfect meld of technology, policy, plans and procedures to accommodate the swell in traffic that’s headed our way. It’s important to note that those billion passengers won’t just be in U.S. airspace alone. Forecasts project heavier volumes up and down our Hemisphere. With NextGen, we’ll be ready.

Through this partnership we share, we have a long history of working together to improve safety and efficiency. I’m expecting much of the same for our work together on NextGen. Our Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, already has discussed this project with international leaders. That commitment is reassuring to all of us.

Looking forward, when ICAO holds its triennial assembly this September, we’ll be facing many issues that will have a profound impact on the future of aviation across the globe and across our borders. With regard to emissions, I think there’s little doubt that we need to move forward to improve our environment. The United States supports an approach based on aviation’s traditional strengths of technological innovation to manage long-term emissions growth. Together, we need to promote better scientific understanding of the potential impacts of aviation emissions. We need to accelerate improvements in air traffic efficiency. We also must foster energy efficiency in aircraft and engines especially with respect to the development of alternative fuel sources for aviation. But we must march forward together. Unilateral impositions on this issue will drive us apart leaving the issue itself unresolved. We can’t afford that.

In addition to making aviation as green as possible, we also need to continue our efforts to make it as safe as possible. As you know, the United States supports ICAO’s universal safety oversight audit program. It is a consistent and systematic way to implement and monitor safety standards throughout the world. Let’s face it. As a group, we need to be using the same yardstick. That’s why we’re recommending the incorporation of safety risk analysis into the program. A systems safety approach is the smart way to go. It’s effective. It’s efficient. And it reveals accident predictors before they become significant safety problems.

I think that anytime you create a system of regular, mandatory, systematic and harmonized safety audits in place all 190 of ICAO’s contracting states will take a huge step forward in safety. Data-driven improvements are the bread-and-butter of the future of aviation safety.

Likewise, we remain committed to making GPS available to the global community. It needs to be free of direct user fees. I’ve gone on record many, many times on this issue. Satellite navigation is the foundation of the next generation. We’re moving forward with WAAS in North America. We support testing and development of WAAS capabilities to provide safe and seamless service throughout the western hemisphere.

In closing, let me say how optimistic I am this partnership we share can help benefit our passengers and our peoples well beyond our respective borders. We have learned that in unity there is strength. And we have learned that together we can make a difference. I look forward, as do we all, to continue that tradition. Thank you.

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