"A Half Century of Pride and Professionalism"
Michael Huerta, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
December 12, 2012

CAMI 50th Anniversary Celebration

Thank you, Dr. Antunano.  I’m happy to be here for this celebration.  And I’m pleased to see all of our partners in the audience…the military, other federal agencies, former directors, and others.

Five decades ago, FAA Administrator Najeeb Halaby took part in the ceremony to dedicate CAMI.  In his remarks on that sunny day, the Administrator looked up and pointed toward a radar beacon.  He said it was symbolic of the FAA.  Let me quote Mr. Halaby directly:  the radar is “constantly turning 360 degrees as a sentinel of safety.”

As we transition to NextGen, those orange-and-white facilities are giving way to satellites.  But the point is still the same.  Today, we’re ensuring safety in smarter, more precise, more accurate ways than ever before, and CAMI is a major part of this effort.    

Back then, people envisioned that CAMI would become the greatest aeromedical research institute in the country.  That box is checked.  I think it’s clear that we’ve gone way past that.  Because of the leadership of Dr. Mohler … Dr. Dille … Dr. Collins … Dr. Antunano and the work of everyone here, CAMI is indeed a model for the world … and a partner for other nations in the domain of aerospace medicine.

Here in the U.S., the footprint of aviation on the national economy is huge … $1.3 trillion of economic activity and 10 million jobs.  As you look around this campus … the renovations we’ve made … the construction all around the center … the footprint of CAMI on the local economy is equally huge.  We are committed to stay.           

For the past 50 years, CAMI has been at the nexus of aerospace medical research, education and certification.  CAMI is working to make sure that the human body can keep pace with the human spirit’s desire to expand the envelope of flight.       

All of this is possible because of the men and women who keep this place running.  The public service you exude, the professionalism for which you’re known … well, that comes from the deep seeds of character that were sown long before you came to the FAA.  Everywhere I look here at CAMI, I see a pride, a desire to go above and beyond. 

There is absolutely no question in my mind that without CAMI, U.S. aviation – I’m talking about the entire system – would grind to a halt very, very quickly.   

When you start listing the big ticket safety items that have come out of here, you realize that this kind of achievement doesn’t happen on its own. 

  • 400,000 medical certificates for pilots every year
  • drop-down oxygen masks
  • evacuation floor lights
  • water survival techniques …

and many, many more contributions that we as passengers take for granted when we get on airplanes each and every day. 

When it comes to forensic toxicology to determine how an accident might’ve occurred, the world turns to CAMI. 

When it comes to molecular biology and how it responds to gravity, the world turns to CAMI.

When it comes to the study of human genes, the world turns to CAMI. 

Soon we could be at a point where we can determine a pilot’s level of fatigue with just a drop of blood. 

If there’s a human being and an aircraft involved, CAMI is on it.    

Turning to the future, NextGen is going to mean changes in technology which are going to help pilots and controllers do their jobs better.  CAMI’s human factors team is informing us about the impact of that technological transformation … and the best ways to conduct technical training in a NextGen environment.   

In space exploration, this nation has made the shift from only government-sponsored programs to allowing private industry to play a greater role. We expect commercial space to be a growth industry, and CAMI is delivering guidance on ensuring the safety and health of space crews and space passengers.

And with unmanned aircraft systems, CAMI is helping us learn about issues that could affect a pilot at a ground control station as we work to achieve “sense and avoid.” 

So in closing, the next 50 years will arrive soon enough.  It was fun putting all those artifacts in the time capsule for future leaders to open.  While we have a glimpse of the challenges that lie ahead, I’m confident that with your continued dedication and commitment to excellence, we’ll meet those challenges … and in doing so, the FAA will—as Administrator Halaby said 50 years ago—continue to be the sentinel of safety in aviation. 

Thank you, and congratulations on a great 50 years.