"The Importance of the Trans-Atlantic Partnership"
Michael Huerta, Arlington, VA
June 25, 2013

SESAR Workshop


Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today.  I am always honored to address an international crowd – the global connection is what aviation is all about.  And, I am pleased to talk about the very important relationship between the United States and Europe. 

Rapid growth in air traffic continues around the world.  This means we must make upgrades and continue to modernize our systems.  Modernization creates greater efficiency, and ultimately, a safer aviation system.  And, that is important, because all nations, big and small, benefit from a healthy and safe aviation system.      

An essential part of global modernization is the relationship between the United States and Europe.  Our advancements together are a model for the rest of the world on how collaboration can work, with a common vision.  This leadership allows for an open dialogue and continued harmonization.

Without our joint initiatives, the Global Air Navigation Plan and the block upgrade concept may never have come to fruition.  This solid plan and the flexible block upgrade program allows for a country to determine which aspects are applicable to its own aviation system.  It is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.  We understand that what works well and what is needed here in the United States, or in Europe, may not be the same for a small, developing nation.  Or, the American approach may not be what is best for a country that shares air navigation services with others in its region. 

I’m pleased to see that joint efforts between the U.S. and Europe under our modernization agreement are coming along well.  After all, there is a huge amount of air traffic between the United States and Europe, and our collaboration benefits operators and millions of travelers. 

Our efforts across the Atlantic are leading the way in global harmonization, including the formulation and development of a streamlined data model to transmit flight information across borders.  The development of this new template will help flights traverse international boundaries more seamlessly, and offer a harmonized way for air navigation service providers to talk to one another.  This is a real, tangible development for the benefit of international aviation.  And, I understand that there will be more tests across the Atlantic in 2014.

Around the globe, we all face economic uncertainties and challenges.  Despite these concerns, we must continue to stay the course with our modernization efforts. 

Here in the United States, NextGen continues to transform the way we manage air traffic.  We are making headway with the deployment of ADS-B equipment throughout the U.S., and in 2014, ADS-B coverage will span the entire country. 

We also continue advancements in our metroplex efforts, decongesting airspace around busy cities.  We are successfully developing better and more efficient take-offs and landings, and better surface operations.  These advancements all save fuel and time, which is of keen interest to operators here, in Europe, and beyond. 

And, I’m happy to report that just last week, we released our latest version of the NextGen Implementation Plan.  It is available on the FAA’s website this year, as we are reducing printing costs. 

As the United States rolls out the improvements of NextGen, we seek to partner more with other countries and regions.  In addition to our collaboration with you, we also continue to work with Japan, which is developing the CARATS system.  And, we’re working with other nations to bridge gaps between our systems.  Global interoperability must span far and wide, and that is why we must reach out to as many of our counterparts as possible. 

Our work together must also be done in tandem with ICAO.  This organization is uniquely placed to promote a safe, efficient, and environmentally sound global aviation system.  Just last week, we met with the Air Navigation Commissioners, and talked about how we can move forward together on modernization efforts.  A full discussion ensued about how the Global Air Navigation Plan and the block upgrade concept are key to global development and harmonization. 

As you know, we’ll soon be considering these ideas at the ICAO Assembly in September, building on the agreements made at last year’s Air Navigation Conference.  We also encourage the use of ICAO’s regional planning and implementation groups to help develop the way forward that works for each particular region. 

As we celebrate the global connection that aviation brings us, we should be encouraged by the development we’ve seen so far in aviation.  Despite current challenges, we continue to make great strides on both sides of the Atlantic.  Our interaction is one of the reasons we’ve made so much collective progress.  And, while we don’t always agree on every single approach, we all share the same vision of an effective, safe, and environmentally sound aviation system.

Thank you again for inviting me to speak with you today. 

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