Sun ’n Fun – Meet the FAA Forum remarks

Former Deputy Administrator A. Bradley Mims (March 1, 2021 - June 14, 2023)

Hello Sun ’n Fun!

It’s great to be back here at the Aerospace Expo, and especially great to see so many young people here. 

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have a front row seat to watch aviation evolve. But for me, and I think for all of us, the biggest changes have come in the past few years.

Here at the expo, there are hundreds of aircraft in all shapes and sizes. And new systems and new vehicles are developing at a rapid pace. I know Sun ’n Fun will be the place where people come to see the next generation of flying.

Change is a constant in aerospace, and we’re embracing all of this change at the FAA.

We’re becoming more agile, to enable all of the awesome innovation, but making sure it’s always done safely.

Safety is the FAA’s highest priority. And if you’re a pilot, or you work in aviation, then safety must always be your first priority too.

I encourage the pilots here to see the FAA’s From the Flight Deck video series on YouTube. There are more than 115 videos about runway safety at different airports.

These videos can make a pilot aware of a problem before you even leave the house. And when you’re aware, you can be more careful.

In fact, we just held a live GA Pilot workshop last week. So check that out on our YouTube channel.

Safety will be our north star, as we work to integrate the innovation we’re seeing in aviation these days.

As I mentioned earlier, a new era of aviation is taking off. What once seemed only real in movies or cartoons is happening now. 

Things like electric air taxis, drones, and spacecraft. This new generation of aircraft must maintain the high level of safety that defines aviation today. 

For air taxis, the FAA has the regulations in place to allow manufacturers to achieve our safety standards in innovative ways. We are also working to write the standards that air taxi pilots must meet to operate aircraft that may have flying characteristics of both helicopters and airplanes. 

It’s all part of the exciting world we call Advanced Air Mobility, or AAM.

We’re working with industry to test and research vertiports, and we’re coming to expos like these to connect with GA pilots and talk about how AAM might impact your flying.

We want to get your input as we integrate AAM into the airspace system, especially during these early phases.

But this is some exciting stuff. And with all of this activity happening, we’re looking for new people to be part of the aviation community. 

The retirements caused by the pandemic throughout the industry, plus all the new kinds of aircraft being developed, are all coming together to create a lot of career opportunity in aviation.

We want to see people to take advantage of these opportunities. We need a diverse, next generation workforce, with people from all backgrounds.  

I’ll tell you, one of the most satisfying parts of my job is meeting young people, like here at Sun ’n Fun, who want to start a career in aviation.

They do a great job highlighting careers here. The career fair has over 20 employers. The FAA is there too, so make sure you stop by our table!

And I love how the Junior ACEs program gives kids a chance to learn about flying, with a bunch of hands-on projects.

We’re doing something very similar at the FAA. It’s called the Airport Design Challenge. This is where kids get to use the Minecraft video game to design airports. Like the one here in Lakeland, or one close to where you live.

The new season starts two days from now, Saturday, April 1. This is no April Fool’s joke! So check our website on Saturday!

And we have some other cool stuff happening too. For the second year in a row, the FAA awarded $10 million in grants for educational institutions to develop future pilots and aviation maintenance technicians. And we plan to start a third round of grants later this year!

We love partnering with Sun ’n Fun to reach more young people, and we look forward to collaborating in more creative ways to recruit that diverse, next generation workforce.

I feel such a sense of excitement and wonder when I come to Sun ’n Fun.

I love seeing vintage aircraft alongside the new entrants. It shows just how far we’ve come in aviation.

Let’s keep pushing further, and allow for the magic of aviation to unfold all the while continuing to keep aviation safe and sustainable.

Thank you for having me in the sunshine state at the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo.