Hello everyone. I’m honored to launch the first full day of the Annual Virginia Aviation conference. I hope you’re having an excellent day there in the great city of Roanoke….
Everyone has heard the expression, Virginia is for Lovers.
Well I have my own version of that slogan: Virginia is for Aviation Lovers.
My love for aviation began in Virginia…at a little general aviation airport called Bailey’s Crossroads. My mom would drop me and my brother off to watch planes take off and land while she ran errands. We’d pretend we were pilots.
….I felt that passion for aviation all over again two weeks ago when I attended the AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
As an adult working on Capitol Hill, I helped make Virginia the place for aviation history lovers when I worked for the Smithsonian Institution.
My job was to lobby members of Congress to create what would become the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport. That was a success story.
If you’ve ever been out there on a weekend, you know what a magnet Hazy is for people, especially children.
I’ll bet you a lot of aerospace careers started because parents took a child to that facility, maybe even in a stroller….I’m very proud of that work.
Later on, I got to show my love for Virginia aviation as a Board member of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, where I was co-chair of the Dulles Corridor and Finance Committees.
It was an honor to do that work, especially because National and Dulles have always been on the leading edge of safety and efficiency technologies for airports.
Think about it… In 1947, National Airport was the first airport to have ground control radar.
In 1964, Dulles Airport was the site of the first automatic landing….all the way to touchdown.
In 1967, National paved the way for the first grooved runways—pavement with channels dug into the surface to prevent hydroplaning.
And in 1971, Dulles launched its iconic mobile lounges!
At the FAA, we continue to keep an eye on the future when it comes to safety and efficiency technologies.
At our National Airport Pavement and Materials Research Center in Atlantic City, we’re studying how we can use polymers to make runways and taxiways more resilient and longer lasting.
These experts are also paving the way for the arrival of Advanced Air Mobility—air taxis—to a vertiport near you.
They’re researching landing areas, approach and departure paths, lighting, parking, charging stations and noise requirements.
And they’re doing this work with urgency because the FAA is likely to certify several air taxis in the 2024 timeframe.
The FAA is also looking holistically at “smart” airports. The idea is to use technology to help manage and plan operations in a centralized digital environment.
When you combine the FAA’s commitment to airports with the Biden Administration’s focus on infrastructure, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make Virginia’s airports—and all American airports—the best they can be.
Under the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the FAA has access to $25 billion in funding over five years…. That’s $15 billion for airport infrastructure, $5 billion for airport terminals and $5 billion for air traffic facilities.
In year ONE of the program, 46 Virginia airports were allocated nearly $77 million for infrastructure upgrades….and two airports—Dulles and Richmond—received nearly $51 million under the airport terminals program.
Along with more capacity and energy efficiency, the airport terminal work will make airports open to everyone. Greater access means ADA compliant restrooms and even relief areas for service animals.
The bottom line is that the Biden Administration, the DOT and the FAA have a great deal of love for this state and for Virginia aviation.
And working together, we will take the Commonwealth’s airports to the next level of safety and efficiency.
Thank you for listening and have an excellent conference!