"National Business Aviation Association"
J. Randolph Babbitt, Atlanta, GA
October 19, 2010

Annual Conference


Thank you, Ed (Bolen).

It’s a pleasure to be here in Atlanta and with NBAA again. This promises to be a great convention.

When I thought about the climate that business aviation has seen in the last two years, I started thinking about the history of this group. I was reminded that NBAA has consistently and tenaciously advanced aviation despite the many challenges over the years.

When the NBAA formed in 1947, the industry was just starting to grow after World War II.

The United States Air Force had just become its own department.

The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser debuted that year.

And Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier.

The founders of this organization met at The Wings Club in New York and realized that to be successful, they would have to chart a course for the role of business aviation.

They didn’t know exactly how the industry would evolve. But they knew that business aviation would help companies visit customers more efficiently, make sales more easily and service their products more quickly in order to stay ahead of the competition.

We all know that the country, in general, and business aviation, in particular, has gone through some rough times recently. The recession has taken its toll.

With a fair amount of education and outreach on your part, the public again realizes how much business and general aviation do contribute to the national economy, especially to our smaller cities in terms of jobs and needed air service.

We also know that our industry is cyclical. Finally we’re seeing signals that give us reason for optimism.

Business aviation flight hours have nudged back up from last year. And sales of larger capacity business jets are holding their own.

But it has not been easy.

The people at this convention are among the best at meeting challenges. They know that change is the constant in our business.

And all of us know that as technology advances, we need to keep apace. If we don’t, we run the risk of being left behind and failing to take advantage of greater safety and efficiency.

Now we have GPS to thank for the next revolution in the way we fly under NextGen.

We are part of a networked world. We Google real time weather and traffic and receive the information on the go.

We need to keep working to make sure these capabilities are both enhanced and available in the cockpits of our airplanes.

Business aviation has a wonderful history of helping to lead the industry by example.

Corporate fleets have the most sophisticated avionics. And now business pilots will play an important role in helping us assess new avionics systems as the FAA continues to roll out NextGen.

We want to hear from you. We want you to let us know how it’s working. I can’t stress enough that this is a partnership in modernization.

Here in the exhibit hall you’ll see examples of what the market has to offer in glass cockpit technology. The Pilatus PC-12NG has four color displays. The NG is for “Next Generation.”

I have flown state-of-the-art business jets with artificial terrain displays for enhanced situational awareness and safety. As you know, the displays are fully automated. It’s an incredible step to the future and it’s awesome. At PDK Airport you’ll see aircraft with more examples.

What we need to do is bring the entire aviation system up to this level of precision and safety. It won’t be enough for just a fraction of the aircraft to have it. Everyone needs to have it. That way we’ll move the industry to a whole new level of safety and efficiency, while optimizing the new technology.

As we move from ground-based radar to satellite-based ADS-B, more pilots in equipped aircraft will see other airplanes around them. They’ll have better terrain information, better weather and the latest on restricted airspace.

And on the ground, moving map displays showing traffic will incredibly enhance situational awareness and virtually eliminate runway incursions.

All of this information adds up to greater safety and greater efficiency. Everyone will be on the same page.

What NextGen also means for business aviation is that we will be able to deconflict the business airports from busy commercial airports in places like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and South Florida – and yes, Atlanta.

With Required Navigation Performance (RNP) the major airlines will be able to fly not only a very precise path but even utilize efficient curved paths as opposed to the angular “point-to-point” arrivals of today.

And with these very precise flight paths, we can increase access to airports and increase capacity. It will mean fewer delays and better access to business airports.

Now, for those of you who ask, “That sounds great, but what have you done for me lately?” I want to turn your attention to WAAS-LPV.

Right now, business aircraft have access to more airfields – in all weather – thanks to WAAS-LPV. That’s Wide Area Augmentation, providing lateral precision with vertical guidance.

As part of NextGen, we are updating our airspace.

We have published more than 2,000 new satellite-based WAAS-LPV approaches and departures at more than 800 airports in the United States.

There are now more WAAS-LPV procedures than ILS procedures in the country.

As you know, we augment the GPS signal to make it more accurate and create a precision approach available to those with properly equipped aircraft. And these approaches require no navaids on the ground. There’s no installation, calibration or maintenance of ground equipment. It’s all in the cockpit.

These approaches give you all-weather access and instrument procedures to airports that never had those options before.

It means a company might now be able to maintain its aircraft at an airport or field that is closer to its headquarters.

And that means companies can better position themselves to meet customer needs quickly, lower costs and increase efficiency.

Corporate aircraft have the best safety record in general aviation, and that record will continue and even improve under NextGen.

But we also need to remember that even with the best technology we must remain vigilant when it comes to safety.

Professional pilots are among the most methodical and focused people I know.

Yet, even after flying more than 40 years, I still ask myself the basics before I enter the cockpit. “Is it a good idea to fly in this weather? Am I too tired to fly this last leg?”

Safety is our number one priority. That’s why I am pleased to share with you that after many years of debate we have put out a new proposed rule that will address pilot fatigue.

This proposed rule has been long in coming, and it’s the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people.

We believe that under this proposal, airline pilots, cargo pilots and others will be fully rested and alert because we’re requiring more rest and better rest before flying.

This proposed rule would apply to Part 121 carriers now, but pilot fatigue is a serious issue for all of us.

We’re proposing new methods for measuring a pilot’s rest period and we’ll take into account cumulative fatigue and a pilot’s circadian rhythm when calculating needed rest.

I’d ask each of you to consider the approach we’ve taken in our proposal as you set your own flight schedules. If you’re starting early in the day – or ending late in the day – or flying lots of short legs in the same duty period – limit the amount of flight time and the length of time you’re on duty.

The science of fatigue applies to everyone – and following the principals in the rule we’ve proposed will enhance the safety of your operations.

The recent aviation safety legislation, signed by the President on August 1 mandates lots of changes. These are changes that will have an impact on you and your operations – changes that I think will be very positive.

We will start to require an Airline Transport Pilot certificate for all Part 121 pilots and we will require more experience in particular types of operations and challenging environments, like icing. This community can continue to help us prepare the next generation of pilots.

We need to be mindful that hours of flying are not a proxy for experience, and that pilots continue to receive the proper training. When you look at your corporate training programs, we want to partner with you to develop programs that cover areas like energy management training, de-icing and fatigue recognition.

Business aviation operators have an outstanding safety record and will continue to provide great experience for pilots who may want to either stay in business aviation or pursue other aviation career paths.

This is no small task. As the US economy continues to grow, we must assure that pilots, mechanics, dispatchers – all the technical experts that you have – are ready to serve throughout the aviation industry. By maintaining the high safety standards you have in place, you will help us assure that we can meet the challenges of the future.

Another step for us is the FAA’s Partnership for Safety with the unions that represent air traffic controllers and our specialists in the technical operations organization.

We have had a wary relationship with our unions for years, but today we're working on building trust with one another. We have to work together and rely on each other to realize our common mission of safety. And you know what – it’s working.

To have a real safety culture, people need to be able to raise any issue without fear of reprisal. You should be able to raise your hand and say, “Hey, this isn’t working.” That’s even if your boss came up with the idea.

We also need to think about how we communicate with each other on the radio and how we hear each other: Hear-back/Read-back.

Everyone gets used to doing their job everyday. But we have to remind ourselves that there are no simple tasks in aviation. Everything we do is important. And there is no margin for error.

By working together and being open, we have a chance to draw on everyone’s expertise to address problems.

That promotes an environment that says, “Let’s figure out if things aren’t working and then let’s improve that process together.”

It leads to the kind of safety culture we are striving for at the FAA, and hope to see throughout the aviation industry.

We have a lot of work to do to take our aviation system into the Next Generation and to safely and efficiently handle the expected increase in air traffic.

The technical improvements we’ll see under NextGen – such as more accurate navigation, better access to airports and less fuel burn – is one side of the equation. If we combine that with a heightened safety culture where we talk openly about issues, it will add up to even safer skies, better use of our airspace and better use of our resources.

Now is the time for us to continue forward with a new vision for the way we fly.

Just as the founders of this organization had the foresight to create a path for business aviation, all of you here today are part of the continuing evolution of the industry.

You have the insight and motivation to move us forward and I’m excited about what we can do together as we define the Next Generation in navigation and air travel.

Thank you for your kind attention.

###