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Speech – "EAA AirVenture"

"EAA AirVenture"
Michael Huerta, Oshkosh, WI
July 28, 2016

EAA AirVenture


As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you for that introduction, Jack.

Before I get started, I want to take a moment to recognize the winners of this year’s FAA General Aviation Awards. These awards celebrate aviation professionals for their contributions in the fields of flight instruction, aviation maintenance, and safety.

Please join me in congratulating:

  • Robert James Hepp, of Fairfax Station, Virginia – Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year;
  • Adrian Allen Eichhorn of McLean, Virginia – Aviation Technician of the Year; and
  • Richard Lawrence Martindell of San Diego, California – FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year.

Thank you for the work you do every day to promote excellence and safety in the general aviation community.

It’s great to be back here at AirVenture. It’s one of my favorite events of the year.

And I knew I was truly at Oshkosh earlier today when I had a chance to catch up with Art Schwedler.

Now for those of you who don’t know, Art has been volunteering at this show for 30 years. He’s on the EAA Government Host team, and he’s greeted nine different FAA Administrators at Oshkosh over the years.

He’s an AirVenture institution. And his commitment embodies so much of what makes this event special.

One of my favorite parts of coming to Oshkosh is getting to see the wide variety of aircraft that make their way here.

It’s one thing to look at an aircraft in a museum.

But who agrees with me that it’s impossible to fully appreciate an old warbird until you’ve heard those big radial engines rumbling overhead?

That happens every day at Oshkosh.

Of course, AirVenture isn’t just about vintage Piper Cubs and rare biplanes. It’s also a place to glimpse our industry’s future.

Manufacturers from around the world come here to show off their latest creations. Their planes are made from the newest composite materials. And even the most basic instrument panels are packed with technology that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin could only have dreamed of when they made the first moon landing.

The passion that drives all of you to fly here, year after year, is the same passion that guided Orville and Wilbur Wright… that inspired Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.

And it’s the passion that fuels so much of the work we do every day at the FAA.

We’re committed to making general aviation safer and more efficient – not only for you, but for the next generation of GA pilots. And we’re making a lot of progress.

As you may know, President Obama recently signed a bill extending the FAA’s operating authority until September 30, 2017. But for many of you, I know the real takeaway from this piece of legislation is language about third-class medical certification reform.

Over the last several years, countless general aviation pilots and stakeholders have urged the FAA to reconsider our medical certification requirements for private pilots. I’ve heard about it many times myself, right here at Oshkosh.

We took this feedback seriously, especially since it’s in keeping with our shift toward more risk-based decision-making.

Getting this done is a priority for our agency, and Congress agreed.

They’ve given us 180 days to draft a rule that will generally allow pilots to fly without a medical certificate if they have:

  • A driver’s license,
  • Held a medical certificate within the past ten years;
  • Completed a medical education course; and
  • Been physically examined by a state-licensed physician.

I’ve assembled a dedicated team that’s in charge of drafting the necessary regulatory text and moving it through our rulemaking process on the timeline Congress has laid out.

We know you’re eager to see this new rule in place. And both the FAA and the Department of Transportation are committed to getting it done as soon as possible.

That’s not the only piece of good news I came here to share.

For the last several years, I’ve spent a lot of my time at these sessions talking about the benefits of equipping your planes with ADS-B. It’s a key NextGen technology that uses GPS to take the “search” out of search-and-rescue if you run into trouble. It also provides free weather and traffic updates to help you make better-informed decisions in the cockpit.

Despite these benefits, there’s been some hesitation when it comes to adopting this technology. One of the main reasons we’ve heard about is cost.

Today, I’m here to tell you that there is no better time to get off the sidelines and start enjoying all that ADS-B has to offer.

Last month, the FAA announced a new incentive program that offers eligible aircraft owners $500 to help offset the cost of purchasing ADS-B Out equipment, or an integrated system that also includes ADS-B In.

We’ll be issuing 20,000 incentives on a first-come, first-served basis for one year, or until all 20,000 are claimed – whichever comes first.

It’s going to be available this fall to owners of U.S. registered, fixed-wing, single-engine piston aircraft.

But you don’t have to wait. We’re thrilled that several manufacturers have stepped up to offer “bridge rebates” of $500 to encourage owners to equip between now and when the FAA incentive launches.

You can also place orders for your equipment right here at Oshkosh and delay delivery until our program is available.

These incentives – along with the fact that some ADS-B units can be found for as little as $2,000 – are already starting to move the needle. We’ve heard from a number of pilots who had planned to wait a few years to install ADS-B, but who are instead equipping now.

This is a smart move. The January 1, 2020 equipage deadline isn’t moving.

As many as 160,000 GA aircraft must have ADS-B installed by that time. As you can imagine, we’re likely to see capacity issues at repair stations around the country as we get closer to the deadline.

I recently heard about a Texas repair shop owner who is telling customers to get on his calendar for ADS-B installations now – because he’s already booked five years out.

No one wants their aircraft to become a hangar queen. So check out all of the ADS-B equipment available here at Oshkosh.

Stop by the FAA booth to get more information on our incentive program. And get ahead of the crowds and schedule an installation appointment at your local repair station.

The time to equip is now.

I don’t have to tell you how exciting it is to be a general aviation pilot today.

Technologies like ADS-B are ushering in a new era for safety. And with these advances, the FAA’s role as a regulator is shifting.

Aviation has always attracted some of the brightest and most innovative minds in the world. And they’ve got big ideas.

What will the planes of tomorrow look like? Has our quest for lighter materials like carbon fiber and nanotubes put us on the verge of game-changing designs? What new tools will make their way into the cockpit thanks to advances in computing power?

These are exciting questions – and they’re being answered right now in research and development labs around the world.

The FAA is committed to meeting these innovations head on as regulators.

Over the past several years, we’ve taken a long, hard look at how we certify aircraft and parts.

In the past, we’ve made improvements. But these changes were incremental, and often independent from each other.

Now, we’re setting out to transform the way we do business in the name of increasing our efficiency and effectiveness.

Earlier this year, we released a proposed rule that would rewrite the FAA’s small airplane certification standards – better known as Part 23.

Instead of requiring certain design elements on specific technologies, the new Part 23 will define the safety outcomes we want to achieve.

This approach recognizes there’s more than one way to deliver on safety – and it provides room for flexibility and innovation in the marketplace.

Our Part 23 rewrite overhauls how we certify aircraft in the future. But we also recognize how important it is to modernize the existing general aviation fleet.

We want to reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers that make it costly and time-consuming to develop and install safety technologies in GA aircraft.

Many of these technologies aren’t required by regulation, but they still provide a number of valuable safety benefits – and we want to make sure you can easily take advantage of them.

Let’s talk real-world examples of how we’re doing this.

A recent policy statement helped the FAA approve a supplemental type certificate process for installing a new electronic flight information system in GA aircraft – much like what you can find on a jetliner’s flight deck.

This potentially life-saving technology, which can help prevent loss of control accidents, was previously only available for use in the experimental fleet.

But we kept hearing from the general aviation community – you wanted the opportunity to put these devices in your cockpits.

So we worked closely with Dynon Avionics and our friends here at EAA to find a way to make it easier to get these kinds of non-traditional technologies into certificated aircraft.

The results speak for themselves: more than a thousand owners have already contacted Dynon and EAA to find out how they can install this technology in their aircraft.

Since that groundbreaking approval, several other companies have applied to bring similar technologies that were previously unavailable into the certified marketplace.

In fact, just last week we approved a similar process that will make it easier to install the Garmin G5 Electronic Flight Instrument in a significant number of GA aircraft.

This collaboration between the FAA and industry allows the GA community to benefit from upgraded technology, lower costs, and higher levels of safety. As we look to the future, we’ll be pursuing these types of partnerships even more.

We also published a new policy to encourage general aviation aircraft owners to voluntarily install non-required safety enhancing equipment on airplanes and helicopters. This will improve safety, reduce costs, and make it easier to install equipment like traffic advisory systems, terrain awareness and warning systems, attitude indicators, fire extinguishing systems, and autopilot or stability augmentation systems.

And we’re not limiting our certification improvements to aircraft and technologies. We’re also updating the way we certify pilots.

For years, we’ve heard from pilots about problems with the knowledge, or “written” test. I even heard from my own former Deputy, Mike Whitaker, when he was getting his certificate.

The knowledge test focused too much on memorizing things you didn’t need to know to be a safe pilot.

And it didn’t ask anything about risk management, which every pilot has to use in real-world operations.

That’s changing. Last month, we started the rollout of the new Airman Certification Standards, which were developed during a five-year collaboration between FAA and industry experts.

By integrating knowledge and risk management with practical skills, these standards define what a pilot needs to know, consider, and do to fly safely in America’s complex airspace.

This is good news, whether you’re planning to get a new certificate or you’ve had your pilot’s license for decades.

By keeping knowledge questions current and incorporating risk management into pilot training and testing, we will make our airspace safer for everyone.

While I’m on the subject of streamlining for greater efficiency and effectiveness, let me also give you a quick overview of some changes we’re making inside the FAA.

I recently approved a plan for what we’re calling the Future of Flight Standards. Among other things, it includes restructuring our organization over the next twelve months according to function – rather than geography.

You’ll still work with the same FSDOs and other FAA facilities, but eliminating the outdated geography-based model will promote greater agility, efficiency, and consistency for the people we serve.

If there’s one common thread to everything I’ve mentioned so far today, it’s this: when the general aviation community speaks, the FAA is listening.

You’re on the front lines of the aviation industry, and your insights are invaluable.

A few months ago, I sent Mike Whitaker down to Sun ‘n Fun to kick off the FAA’s new “Got Data?” initiative with a listening session.

I know what you’re thinking. Got Data? Sounds riveting.

But data is the foundation for everything we do at the FAA. And our data often makes its way into the tools you rely on in the cockpit every time you fly.

Avionics manufacturers turn the navigational charts and instrument approaches the FAA produces into a wide variety of electronic products. These feed into your flight management systems, iPads, and other mobile devices.

The biggest advantage of these new products is that they enable pilots to have greater awareness about where they are, and what lies ahead, than ever before. And it all fits in the space of a silicon chip.

Now imagine what could be possible if we opened up more of our data to more partners in more formats. That’s the idea behind Got Data.

We want to find better ways to help the private sector access aeronautical data currently offered by the FAA. We also want to identify additional data resources we could provide.

Our goal is to help industry be in a position to create innovative products and technologies that can improve safety and efficiency in the aviation industry.

We got great feedback at our Sun ‘n Fun listening session – and we’ve already implemented some of the ideas we received.

We created a Data Innovation Center that serves as a new central location for all of the FAA’s aeronautical information.

We also launched automated digital product downloads that will make it easier for users to ensure they’re using the most up-to-date data.

This is only the beginning of our work on Got Data. We’re going to continue working closely with aircraft owners, application developers, and manufacturers to provide new and better data that will improve the products you use in the cockpit and the safety and efficiency of our airspace.

This kind of collaboration is essential to advancing safety, as well.

Safety is the common goal that unites the FAA with every level and every sector of the aviation industry.

The FAA has been proud to partner with a number of GA stakeholders to raise awareness about safety issues like Loss of Control – the number one cause of fatal general aviation accidents.

Just two days ago, EAA awarded its first Founder’s Innovation Prize, which recognizes creative solutions to loss of control in flight.

EAA and groups like AOPA and GAMA have also been a valuable contributor to the Fly Safe campaign.

I hope you’ll all consider checking out Fly Safe, which launched last year on FAA.gov to help prevent Loss of Control accidents.

We have a lot of terrific resources available for you to take advantage of.

As all of you know, being a pilot isn’t a right – it’s a responsibility. There’s a great old saying: “You don’t have to take off, but you do have to land.”

Everybody here knows there’s a lot more to flying than just knowing the rules and pushing buttons. It takes good judgment. It requires discipline. And it demands a true sense of professionalism that’s rooted in a deep, unwavering commitment to doing the right thing.

Everyone here today shares that commitment.

And I know that because, if you flew in to Oshkosh, you had to be at the top of your game.

With all of the planes coming and going, this is one of the most challenging sites in the world to navigate around.

So on behalf of the air traffic control staff working this year’s event – thank you for doing your part to make this a safe and successful show.

Now it’s time for my favorite part of the day: hearing from you.

But first, let me introduce you to a few of my colleagues from the FAA, who are going to help me answer some of your questions.

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