Annual Global Leadership Meeting – Opening Keynote

Assistant Administrator for Policy, International Affairs and Environment Laurence S. Wildgoose (January 1, 2021 - present)

Thank you, Carey [Fagan], for the kind introduction and good morning, everyone.

On behalf of Secretary Buttigieg, Acting Administrator Nolen, and Deputy Administrator Mims, welcome and thank you for joining us this week for the 9th Annual Global Leadership Meeting, or AGLM, as we fondly call it!  

U.S. presence in the world is just as important now as it has ever been. We’re seeing tremendous advancements in innovation across the aerospace industry. And, we have big challenges that could affect aviation. But with big challenges, come big opportunity. A chance for all of us to make a positive difference. And make no mistake about it, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

AGLM week is a special one, as it is the one time each year that we bring all FAA international offices and employees together with industry stakeholders to discuss the state of the global aviation system… and to strategize about the FAA’s global leadership and priority engagements for the year ahead. 

[International Employee Recognition]

I have to say: It is so nice to be back in person after more than two years of virtual meetings.

I especially want to welcome our three FAA regional directors from our Asia Pacific, our Western Hemisphere, and our Africa, Europe, and Middle East teams. 

We also welcome back our senior FAA representatives, our line of business partners, and our civil aviation specialists, who all traveled to Washington this week from 15 countries across the globe. 

These folks are the face of the FAA around the world, and they are critical to strengthening our bilateral and multilateral relationships. I hope that everyone in attendance has the opportunity to meet these FAA leaders during our 2-day agenda.

I also want to welcome and recognize our FAA employees that are currently serving on secondments, or details, to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), providing U.S. leadership in safety, air traffic management, innovation, and aviation sustainability.

Engagement in ICAO continues to be a top priority for the FAA. We see it as the best opportunity to provide U.S. leadership in the development of global standards and recommended practices, as well as the development of much-needed guidance documents around key issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  

We are supporting six assignments today, but continue to look for additional opportunities to engage at ICAO headquarters and in regional offices. 
Thanks to you [and your families] for taking on these assignments and thank you for providing U.S. leadership in your particular areas! 

And, finally, I thank everyone for supporting the AGLM this year. Your commitment to participate these next two days is a testament to your passion for U.S. leadership and engagement in the world. Together, we all bring a diverse and invaluable set of perspectives.

[FAA International - The Year in Review]

Many in the room today were instrumental in shaping the FAA's new strategic plan for the 21st century – Flight Plan 21, which was published on the FAA website in September. Through this effort, we established our new international governance structure, with an International Governance Board, to better coordinate FAA international engagement priorities at the highest levels of agency leadership.

You took this on, in addition to your existing duties, but your insights and dedication have positioned the FAA for success in 2023 and beyond.

Earlier in the year, I think we were all excited when pockets of the global aviation system finally started to open back up.

And while Zoom continues to be an easy way to connect with partners around the world, nothing beats getting back out in person … meeting face-to-face … shaking hands, or maybe even fist-bumping, … creating or re-establishing strong partnerships, and rolling up our sleeves to address challenges to the continued safety, efficiency, and sustainability of our global aviation system.

Acting Administrator Nolen is a huge advocate for international engagement. He traveled to Brazil in June for the Pan American Aviation Safety Summit… to the United Kingdom in July for the Farnborough Airshow… and just last week, her returned from the U-A-E after attending the IATA Safety Conference in Dubai.  

Deputy Administrator Mims led the U.S. delegation to Martinique in June for the ICAO’s 10th North America, Central America, and Caribbean Directors of Civil Aviation Meeting.

I personally led an FAA team to Singapore in May for the Changi Aviation Summit, where I joined more than 300 global aviation leaders, representing 45 countries. This was an honor, as the Changi Aviation Summit was the first key civil aviation event held in the Asia Pacific region since the start of the pandemic.

I also led an interagency team in May to host the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority ministers meeting to help these six countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – to harmonize civil aviation legislation as a single regulatory body to achieve a sustainable safety oversight system for these states.

In July, I led a U.S. delegation to the Republic of Korea for the 57th Asia Pacific Directors General Conference. We hosted an environmental roundtable with Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Singapore. We discussed the realities of climate change … and the need for positive outcomes at the 41st ICAO General Assembly.

The assembly … which just concluded a few weeks ago … was the biggest international event for us this year. 

Secretary Buttigieg, Deputy Secretary Trottenberg, Acting Administrator Nolen, and other leaders from the Department of Transportation and the FAA were all there, demonstrating the significance of this important gathering.

The FAA support team had been working for more than nine months. They worked in collaboration with colleagues across the agency, the Office of the Secretary, the State Department, Transportation Security Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board. Their work prepared the United States for success at this critical triennial event that sets the priorities and the budgets for the next three years.

Days were long … and our team was excellent. Thank you to everyone who played a part in getting the U.S. ready for success in Montreal. 

And, in case you missed it, the United States was re-elected to Part 1 of the ICAO Council as a “state of chief importance in air transport,” and we secured almost 80% of member state votes. This is a testament to the value of FAA global leadership and engagement.

On climate change, the assembly agreed to establish a long-term climate goal of reaching net zero emissions from aviation by 2050. This outcome is a big success, and a credit to both the member states who adopted the goal, and industry who supported it.

The assembly also worked to strengthen the carbon offsetting program known as CORSIA, which requires airlines to mitigate their CO2 emissions growth. Together, these accomplishments reaffirm ICAO’s commitment and leadership to tackle aviation’s impact on climate change.

In addition, the FAA was successful in getting positive outcomes related to the International Aviation Trust Framework that would enable a secure digital information exchange in aviation. We also streamlined efforts to establish advanced air mobility regulations that will allow for the safe and integrated operation of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft in civil aviation.   

[FAA International – What’s Next?]

So as one can see, it has been a very busy year.

And I fully expect 2023 to be just as busy and challenging to the FAA and our counterparts around the world.

Technology and innovation are thriving… with uncrewed aircraft systems, A-A-M concepts, commercial space transportation, and more.

Having the assembly in our rear-view mirror is a relief. But now that we have established the outcomes, we must lead the charge.  

Regional planning and implementation is probably more challenging than setting the global standard itself. Bringing states together within a region, most with different cultures, budgets, state priorities, and differing levels of technology and operational maturity, is hard work.  

This is a big opportunity for the FAA… and for U.S. industry leadership and support.

The Biden-Harris administration has established a priority for the U.S. government to assist developing countries and regions. From the FAA perspective, we will surely be doing our part.  

We are already heavily engaged with supporting the Caribbean in safety, air traffic management, airspace redesign, and airport and runway certification and safety. And we’re developing plans with federal agency partners to provide more aviation technical assistance and training to the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia.  

And, we have put funding and resources behind a new FAA outreach effort in Africa that will identify the highest priorities in the region. We intend to provide near- and long-term training and assistance to improve aviation safety, efficiency, and environmental health across the continent.

In the world of ICAO… we will continue to support secondments and details to drive global standards across the board. 

But we’ll also look closer at opportunities to support ICAO regional offices, regional aviation groups, and international organizations, as all are critical to achieve timely and harmonized implementation of standards and innovative new technologies.


While there is still recovery work to be done globally, we hope that the severe impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic are behind us, and that we are collectively better positioned to respond to any challenges in the future.

Unfortunately, we continue to grapple with global areas of conflict, such as the unprovoked aggression by Russia on Ukraine, as well as other areas of unrest that have the potential to impact the safe and efficient movement of civil aircraft.  

Safety is indeed our “north star”…  and as such, the FAA is committed to remaining a global leader in assessing and mitigating the risks that these unfortunate, and seemingly never-ending events, pose to global aviation safety.

Make no mistake about it… the FAA and the Department of Transportation are as committed as ever to provide U.S. leadership abroad.

It means something when the FAA shows up to an event… and we understand that it also sends a message when the FAA is absent.

We cannot be absent.

We have global leadership engrained as one of the FAA’s top strategic pillars… And we have a strong track record of successful engagement and influence at ICAO and with our many like-minded partners throughout the world.

We continue to look at our international footprint and reach, so we can adjust to changing priorities and needs.

This past year, we relocated our FAA office in Moscow to Warsaw to have more stability and strengthen our partnership with Ukraine and the surrounding region. Throughout the current conflict, our partnership with Ukraine has never been stronger. And, we are connected with the department to support its commitment to assist Ukraine with the rebuilding of its transportation infrastructure once the war ends.

We re-opened an office in London in December 2021. We’ll be opening a new office in Mexico City in the coming months. And we’re working to establish a new office in Australia to expand our cooperation with Southeast Asia, and especially increase our assistance to the Oceana region and Pacific Island nations.

I’m now a little shy of two years into this job, but I’ve seen a lot and have clear vision for the future and how we can best serve the U.S. and the global community. 

That vision includes strengthening our partnerships around the world. 

That vision includes “upping our game” to be more proactive in our outreach efforts to developing countries with technical assistance to improve aviation safety, efficiency, and sustainability.  

That vision includes a more robust FAA international training program that proactively offers U.S. best practices and expertise to areas of the world that need it the most… because that’s the right thing to do.

If we continue providing leadership through transparency, humility, and communicating our ideas—and successes—in all areas of aviation, then other nations will continue to follow our lead.

I have the utmost confidence that you, the members of our international team, can make great strides this year as we work together.

I wish everyone the best this week, and have a great AGLM!