Speech – Safety Propels InnovationInnovation Propels Progress

Administrator Stephen Dickson

Thank you, Erik, for that introduction, and thanks to your entire team and to AUVSI for holding this landmark eventnot once, but twice. Today in Episode 2, well explore public safety topics, including the Integration Pilot Program and what weve learned, UAS security, community concerns, how to conduct safer missions, and a variety of other topics meant to help this global community succeed and grow.

As you know, the overarching theme for both episodes is Drones: Here for Good. Meaning, theyre here to stay, and, more importantly, they are proving to be beneficial for society.

When we take the energy and creativity of a newfound industry, not constrained by traditional aviation wisdom, and apply it to problems and opportunities in the public realm, the sky is the limit for what we might accomplish.

But thats only part of the equation.

In order to be successful, we must balance these bold new ideas with tried and true safety considerations. Thats our role at the FAA: We make sure safety propels innovation, so that innovation can propel progress.

And if you want to see innovation propelling progress in the drone sector, you have to look no farther than the Department of Transportations Integration Pilot Program.

Consider some of the things weve accomplished to date with the IPP:

In the medical field, UPS Flight Forward and Matternet, as part of the North Carolina DOT IPP team, have dramatically reduced delivery times for medical samples as part of their routine UAS medical package deliveries over the WakeMed medical campus in Raleigh, North Carolina.

It was through the IPP that UPS, along with Wing Aviation, earned the distinction of becoming Americas first FAA-certified air carrier operators for UAS package deliveries.

In the public service sector, State Farm, a member of the Virginia IPP team, operated over people and beyond visual line of sightalso known as BVLOSto conduct damage assessments following Hurricanes Florence and Michael. These successful operations led to a nationwide waiver that also covers pre-damage assessments.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma reaped a direct economic benefit by using drones to conduct inspections of pecan trees and was able to determine that seemingly diseased trees had healthy crops in their upper levels. They improved the crop yield for those trees by 200 percent.

Later this afternoon, youll hear from Chief Roxana Kennedy of the Chula Vista Police Department, part of the San Diego IPP team. Chief Kennedys department is successfully using drones to enhance the safety of its police officers and the community by giving first responders an early assessment when they respond to 911 calls.

For the first 1,000 missions, average on-scene response time was reduced from 6 minutes to 2.2 minutes for priority calls. The responding drones also provided information so dispatchers could determine the number of units to deploy, pinpoint the location of suspects discarded firearms, and follow vehicles under pursuit throughout the city.

At the Memphis Airport, FedEx has enhanced the efficiency and safety of its aircraft inspection process by replacing manual visual inspections by maintenance technicians with drone inspections. Using drones reduced aircraft inspection times from three hours to 20 minutes, and improved employee safety and data collection.

These are just a few examples, but perhaps more telling of how innovation, properly applied, can help people, is the speed with which our government, industry, and academia IPP teams pivoted to help out during the ongoing COVID-19 global health emergency.

In many cases, weve enabled drone use for COVID-19 within our existing regulations and emergency procedures, as well as through special approvalssome in less than an hour.

Wing Aviation used its Part 135 status to increase its partnerships with local businesses in Christiansburg, VA, to significantly increase contactless deliveries. As I mentioned in Episode 1, they even delivered library books!

Like Wing, UPS Flight Forward leveraged its ability to operate under Part 135 by providing prescription deliveries to a retirement community in Florida and conducting medical deliveries near Charlotte, NC.

Companies operating under Part 107 also joined the fight. For example, Flytrex and Zipline used their IPP experience to support COVID response efforts in North Carolina.

As you can see, theres no shortage of innovation when it comes to drones. But to be successful in an industry where safety is the ultimate arbitrator, innovators must do the right thing when it comes to safety. The FAA is here to help. As I said earlier, we make sure safety propels innovation.

This is key to our future in drones and Advanced Air Mobility, or AAM. It speaks to how we must balance the promised benefits of new technologies with the potential safety impacts to our National Airspace System as we integrate these operations.

Its the reason why we issued the proposed Remote Identification rule, and why we will finalize it by years end.

Its the reason weve taken a proactive role in AAM, working with industry stakeholders to identify challenges, gaps, and areas for potential harmonization. We have engaged in two AAM-focused Executive Roundtables, collaborating with FAA and NASA executives and industry leaders to discuss the challenges and strategic priorities.

At headquarters FAA, we are integrating AAM into our planning efforts, with a focus on five pillars of activity: aircraft, airspace, operations, infrastructure, and community.

Were also part of the NASA National Campaign, formerly known as the Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge, where the idea is to demonstrate the realm of whats possible for passenger and cargo transportation using these unconventional aircraft and traffic management methods.

To make sure safety propels drone innovation, weve been working with industry for almost four years on a Partnership for Safety Program initiative, or PSP, to address complex integration issues.

This team works across the FAA to evaluate and approve complex UAS operations that will benefit industry and inform our rulemaking process.

For example, the PSP team leveraged expertise in engineering, operations, maintenance, and safety, to help Xcel Energy to conduct system-wide BVLOS operations over its electric transmission system using a Certificate of Waiver.

This change in operations enabled the company to reduce risk to its employees by limiting exposure to high voltage currents, and flight and ground hazards, while greatly increasing the accuracy and frequency of inspections over 2,268 miles of electrical infrastructure spanning eight states.

Of course, you cant talk about BVLOS without a nod to the trailblazerBNSF Railway, which has completed enough beyond visual line of sight operations to more than circumnavigate the globe at the equator.

Another PSP partner, Florida Power and Light, estimates it can save more than $15 million over the next four years by replacing vehicles with drones to conduct routine transmission and distribution power line inspections.

There is also work being done to advance the use of cellular technology for command and control with Verizon/Skyward and a First Responder App, developed by GE AiRXOS. The app provides on-scene commanders the ability to mark the area where they are conducting UAS operations.

In the public safety arena, we worked with various associations to develop whats called Tactical Beyond Visual Line of Sight, an operational mode that allows limited out of sight UAS operations in support of life saving efforts.

We created the Public Safety Small Drone Playbook, which is a resource guide for dealing with potentially unlawful UAS operations. Weve sent out more than two thousand hard copies of the guide to public safety agencies, and several thousand copies have been downloaded from the FAA’s website.

Internally to the FAA, we created a dedicated public safety liaison team that provides outreach through events, including webinars, videos, and digital media to support the public safety UAS mission.

All these activities are helping to inform rulemaking and national and international policies. That includes a new Safety Risk Management business process that ICAO included in its guidance for drone operations supporting humanitarian aid and emergency response for countries around the world to leverage.

In addition to reaching out across physical borders, Im here to announce that we are also bridging the language barriers that are preventing the FAA from communicating with a growing number of people who are interested in drones. Communication is keythe safety of everyone in the NAS hinges upon UAS operators understanding the rules of the sky.

According to the Census Bureau, approximately 25.6 million individuals living in the United States are considered limited English proficient, or L-E-P, and the population of L-E-P individualsdefined as those having a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand Englishcontinues to grow. How many are recreational drone flyers, or would like to be?

Thats the reason weve started the UAS L-E-P Pilot Project. Were translating select website content into Spanish, focusing on recreational flyers. This project will help us further extend outreach to the largest language community of L-E-P persons and provide access to basic safety information. The translated content will be available on our website and comes out just ahead of Hispanic Heritage Month, which starts in mid-September.

Community engagement will help us ensure that this outreach campaign has a measurable effect on improving safety for recreational flyers.

Organizations that have significant contact with L-E-P persons, such as local law enforcement, FSDOs, schools, and community-based groups can be very helpful in linking them to this information on our website.

Well monitor the effectiveness of our outreach through our social media and website engagement, as well as engagement with our UAS Support Center.

As a society, were especially fond of innovation and technology. Drones are no exception. But the staying power of a new entrant will depend on how the public perceives that entrant, and for the aviation industry, its critically important that the public sees that entrant is safe. So how is the drone industry doing so far?

According to our analysis of daily media reports about drones over the past six months, we estimate that roughly half of the stories are positive, 35 percent are neutral, and 15 percent are negative. Id say thats a pretty good ratio for any new development.

On many days, the news highlights extraordinary developments and firsts that support the theme of this conference. But on days like August 4th, theres not much positive, or even neutral on the pages. Thats the day one careless operator used a drone to make a new kind of first the first drone delay of a major league baseball game.

The news buzz a few weeks earlier, on June 29, was about an incident that could have led to much worse consequences. Thats the day the NTSB concluded that a news copter in Los Angeles had likely collided with a drone back in December 2019.

As with the baseball stadium prank, no one was injured, but these incidents are concrete reminders to us that the public at large does not differentiate between the professionals and the pranksters when it comes to safety.

Thats part of the reason that all of us here have worked so hard to communicate and educate and must continue to do so, and we must continue collaborating with events like this, to help get the word out, to cross geographic and language divides so that safety can propel innovation, and innovation can propel progress. Then, and only then, will we be assured that drones will for good.

Thank you for inviting me and I wish you an excellent Episode 2.

Speech – The Only Constant is Change

Administrator Stephen Dickson

Thank you, Steve. Hello everyone. I hope everyones keeping safe and doing well.

I wish we were meeting in my hometown of Atlanta, as initially planned. I enjoy getting back there when I can.

But of course, a lot of things are different this year. Only one of which is our reliance on virtual meetings, like this one.

As the old saying goes, The only constant in life is change. And as an aviation community, weve certainly seen our share of change in the last six months.

Before COVID-19, U.S. airlines were moving about 1 billion passengers a year, and we, as an industry, had achieved a safety record that wasand remainsthe envy of the world.

Were seeing about an 80% decrease in airline passenger traffic compared to early March.

General Aviation, including business jet operations, saw a significant drop in traffic during the spring, but its recovering quite a bit.

It might take a while. But overall traffic will bounce back.

As a broader aviation community, our success will depend on how well we adapt to the changes related to COVID-19, and how well we adapt to drones, commercial space transportation, and other kinds of rapid innovation were seeing in aviation.

In addition, our success depends on how well we collaborate with each other, and with other stakeholders, to address pressing issues like the safety and efficiency of surface operations and aircraft noise.

These are the topics I want to discuss today.

Let me start by saying that the FAA supports airports of all sizes. Whether they are big or small, urban or rural, airports are an invaluable part of our nations transportation infrastructure.

Through the CARES Act, we have awarded more than $2 billion in economic relief to 604 airports across the FAAs Southern Region. These funds are helping airports with operational and maintenance costs like payroll, utilities, service contracts, and debt service.

As we continue to deal with this unprecedented public health challenge, it is critical that all airports continue making safety their top priority.

Continue conducting safety inspections.

Continue working with the FAAs Air Traffic Organization on runway safety action teams.

And continue working with the FAAs Southern Region office on safety matters. The entire office is available to you.

We are working remotely just as effectively as when were in the physical FAA office space. So dont hesitate to reach out to us.

The more we can communicate, the better we can ensure safety in all aspects of the airport environment.

On that note, the FAA is developing a Safety Management Systems rule that would apply to airports. Many of you have voluntarily implemented SMS in your organizations, and we commend you for your commitment to safety.

Through SMS, airports will be in a better position to identify threats, mitigate risks, and share best practices with the broader aviation community.

One of the most visible areas of airport safety is on the runway.

Five years ago, the FAAs Airports Office started the Runway Incursion Mitigation, or RIM, program, to address runway/taxiway intersections with high incidences of runway incursions due to nonstandard airport layouts.

Currently, we have identified projects for 124 intersections at 75 airports nationwide. These projects include changes to the airport layout, lights, signs, markings, and operational procedures. These changes will reduce the likelihood of pilot confusion and, ultimately, runway incursions.

To date, the RIM program has mitigated safety risk at 54 intersections one-third of which are at airports in the FAAs Southern Region reducing runway incursions at these locations by more than 77%.

Also, were working with GA airport sponsors on a new initiative to improve runway safety areas at GA airports. The solutions could range from constructing new runway safety areas to installing an Engineered Material Arresting System.

And the FAA has a new YouTube video series called From the Flight Deck. This series uses cockpit and wing-mounted cameras to increase pilot awareness of common issues at particular airports around the country.

Ill show you a clip of the main series trailer. Could you please play the video?

Thank you.

COVID-19 has delayed our filming schedule, but we have projects planned at airports like DeKalb-Peachtree, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale International, and Sarasota-Bradenton. And well post these videos as soon as they are complete.

While safety is our top priority, the FAA has also pursued several efforts to improve the efficiency of surface operations.

We have deployed Data Communications Tower Services at 62 airports throughout the country. We did it well ahead of schedule and significantly under budget.

Through June of this year, Data Comm has saved more than 1.5 million minutes of flight delay and more than 2.2 million minutes of communications time between controllers and pilots.

Just two of the thousands of examples of delay reduction include saving an airline flight 22 minutes compared to a voice-only flight on a historically bad weather day at Orlando International.

Data Comm also saved a flight 10 minutes compared to a voice-only flight at Atlantas Hartsfield-Jackson on a day when there were ground stops in Florida.

This means that passengers and cargo get to their destinations more quickly and efficiently.

Another tool that will improve surface efficiency is the Terminal Flight Data Manager. TFDM will modernize tower operations by replacing manual paper flight strips with electronic flight strip displays.

TFDM will share data among controllers, aircraft operators, and airports so they can better stage arrivals and departures and more efficiently manage traffic flow on the surface and within terminal airspace.

Were deploying TFDM at 89 airports, including all Core 30 airports between 2021 and 2029.

While TFDM relies on getting departure readiness data from the airlines, much of the GA community, including business aviation, does not have a method to provide this kind of data.

Were prototyping a mobile device application that can help overcome this challenge. Its called Pacer.

When preparing for a flight, pilots can use Pacer to submit an intended departure time and view the busy departure times at the airport.

With this information, a business jet operator might decide to leave an hour earlier, or an hour later to avoid busy times. Its just like going on the web and checking out the busy times for a restaurant.

A Pacer web portal lets airport and traffic flow managers see this demand information and conduct better planning through a common view of expected airport operations.

Our long-term goal is to pull those departure readiness times from the GA community into TFDM, so well have an even better picture of surface operations. The vision is that these capabilities within Pacer will be integrated into existing aviation apps used by pilots and crews.

Were currently testing the prototype at several airports in the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas area, and we plan to expand testing to Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Augusta Regional Airport for the Masters Tournament.

You can tell your GA operator communities to go to to learn how to get the app on their mobile device.

Through capabilities like Data Comm, TFDM, and Pacer, the FAA continues to develop innovation to make airport operations more efficient.

Toward that end, we are conducting research on how drones can be used to perform airport-centric operations, such as obstruction analysis, wildlife hazard management, airfield pavement inspections, perimeter security inspections, and aircraft rescue and firefighting operations.

But we also want to keep unauthorized drone users from interfering with airport operations.

Were working to establish a Remote ID requirement that can identify drones near airports. We received 53,000 comments on the proposed rule, and were in the process of finalizing the rule now, which we expect to publish by the end of the year.

I encourage you to register for Episode #2 of the FAAs UAS Symposium on August 18-19th, where you can learn more about the efforts were making toward drone integration. Visit for more details.

In addition, we will be soliciting airport operators and technology vendors to see who would like to participate in our UAS Detection and Mitigation Airport testing and evaluation program. The solicitations will be out for 45 days and will be posted on

The FAA is also working to integrate commercial space transportation into the airspace system.

There have been 26 space operations this fiscal year. And while COVID-19 has delayed some expected launches, we do expect nine more by the end of September. That would put us higher than last fiscal years total of 32 space operations.

Several airports have expressed interest in becoming spaceports. This past May, we approved a spaceport license for Space Coast Regional Airport in Central Florida. And Huntsville International Airport in Alabama is planning to apply for a license.

We want to integrate commercial space operations in a way that minimizes disruption to existing air traffic.

Were developing a whole suite of technologies and procedures to reduce the size and duration of closed airspace for a space operation and release that airspace more efficiently so its available to other airspace users. Were also developing capabilities to more efficiently reroute air traffic around space launch areas.

Finally, Id like to touch on the issue of aircraft noise. As you know, its a concern for many local communities, and the concern has to be addressed by every group that has a role in noise.

Before traffic starts to build back up, we want to use this time as an aviation community to really think strategically about how we can better engage the public on this issue.

As part of this effort, we want to provide our citizens with a more robust understanding about what factors contribute to aircraft noise in their communities.

Many airports hold Roundtables with their stakeholders and the public to address these concerns. And the FAA is committed to participating at these meetings and engaging in meaningful dialogue with all parties.

When it comes to designing air traffic procedures, we prioritize the safety and efficiency of the system. And we take into consideration the needs of the airlines and the airports, as well as the concerns of the general public.

We unveiled a Noise Portal in the Southern Region for the public to communicate their noise-related concerns.

We have also established partnerships with Atlantas Hartsfield-Jackson and Greenville-Spartanburg International in South Carolina to coordinate on noise-related information and data that can be provided to the public.

And in June, the FAA held a series of virtual workshops, as part of our community outreach to discuss the proposed Metroplex procedures for Central and South Florida.

These virtual meetings were a big success, providing more than 100,000 people the opportunity to engage with the FAA. It was the first time we did something like this on that scale.

Our Communications office did a great job of broadcasting these meetings through our social media platforms.

We had a broad range of participation from airport officials, airline pilots, air carriers, and environmental specialists that were able to help answer questions from members of the public.

We have virtual meetings upcoming in Boston and Chicago, and we would like to have significant stakeholder participation just as we did in Florida.

In closing, I want to reiterate that the FAA believes strongly in supporting airports of all types, locations, and sizes throughout the country.

We continue to focus on ways to mitigate safety risk at the airport.

We continue to invest in innovative technologies and research to make airport operations more efficient.

We continue to integrate drones and commercial space vehicles into the airspace system, while being mindful of how they could potentially affect airports.

And we remain steadfast in our desire to collaborate with you in these areas. So please continue to connect with the Southern Region office.

I know that not all of the wisdom comes from FAA Headquarters. Its important that we keep listening to you and seeing things from your perspective.

Thanks everyone and I hope you have a great conference.

Speech – Drones: Here for Good

Administrator Stephen Dickson
Remote Symposium

Remarks as Delivered

Thank you Erik for that introduction, and thank you to everyone at the FAA and AUVSI who played a part in pulling together this exciting and innovative conference. Its great to be hereeven virtuallyfor this, our fifth annual UAS Symposium.

As Jay Merkle said earlier, in the old days, it was often the case that much of the real progress in aviation took place in impromptu gatherings on the sidelines of conferences and meetings.

When we entered the virtual conference world, I worried that those connectionsparticularly those with our international friends and partnerswould be lost. After all, regularly scheduled events were no longer regular, and sideline meetings werent possible.

So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that bright minds at the FAA and AUVSI innovated yet again to find a way to create those opportunities in our new virtual reality. Theyve given us the ability to have virtual sideline gatherings as part of the UAS Symposium Episode 1our virtual conference today and tomorrow. How cool is that?

Im optimistic, and I imagine well learn from this and advance the conversation even further in Episode 2, on August 18 and 19.

Thats technology and innovation having a positive impact on society, and when you think about it, isnt that the ultimate measure of a sea change in the long runwhether or not it ends up being beneficial for people and changes how we engage with each other and the world?

That was certainly the case for manned aviation, particularly when we entered the jet age and made just about any location on the planet accessible in about a day.

Space travel, in particular the Apollo program, gave the human race much more than Tang. For one thing, it started the hardware miniaturization and software revolution that ultimately led to our pocket-size devices and, apropos of today, drones.

And I think were all seeingespecially in the middle of a global public health emergencythat drones are helping people in very real ways every day.

Thats in part why the theme of this years symposium, DronesHere for Goodis definitely on point in todays environment. We actually selected that title back in 2019, but it is more appropriate today than we ever would have imagined.

The expansion of drones is not just happening in the U.S.its a worldwide phenomenon. Consider that, with us today, are international guests from as far away as Australia, Canada, Japan, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Its great to see so many international attendees, and I thank you for participating. I also want to thank Jay for his superb outreach efforts, including the regional updates hes held with civil aviation authorities around the globe.

We realize that no one here can work in a vacuum when it comes to how we set the parameters that will enable this global industry to prosper yet remain safe for the public.

We have to develop our infrastructure in harmony so that operations can move seamlessly across borders.

And thats why Episode 1 of this symposium is dedicated in part to highlighting our work with international partners.

Id like to offer a special welcome to my friends and colleagues from the Swiss Federal Office of Civil AviationChristian Hegner and Lorenzo Murzilliwho will give a keynote address next, including a special announcement. So stay tuned for that.

As an aside, we can thank Switzerland for playing a big role in giving us the incredibly stable, versatile, small quadcopter platforms that have become synonymous with the UAS movement.

Swiss researchers in 2004 at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne did groundbreaking work in autonomous flight using an in-house quadcopter named OS4 (Oh-S-4). Others around the world were making similar progress.

Fast-forward 16 years, and the market is swimming with small, low-cost, quadcopters that can automatically follow along and keep watch over you while you walk your dogin appropriate airspace, in daytime and not directly over people, of course.

Along with international integration, the other two focus areas for Episode 1 are STEM and UAS traffic management, or UTM.

When it comes to STEM, we have a unique opportunity right now, because young people are seeing in the news how drones are helping people.

Imagine the lasting impact of a drone coming to a young persons house, a kid whos probably very bored from being cooped up during a time of stay-at-home orders, and the drone drops off a book for summer reading…

Thats whats been happening in Christiansburg, Virginia, where a local librarian came up with the idea and brought it to Wing Aviation, who made it happen.

In 2019, Wing was the first drone operator in the U.S. to earn a Part 135 air carrier certificate from the FAA.

Students order the books through their schools website, where they can choose from more than 150,000 titles, and the drones deliver the books to their house.

That progress is the direct result of the Administrations drone Integration Pilot Program, or IPP, which well discuss in great detail during Episode two of this symposium, in August.

For now Ill just say that the IPP is responsible for many drone firsts that have helped the public, including Wings book deliveries and the first routine medical package deliveries in the U.S. by another Part 135 carrier, UPS Flight Forward.

In May, UPS Flight Forward began delivering items from a CVS to a nearby senior living community in Orlando, Florida, so that residents with a high risk of contracting COVID-19 did not have to go out.

The reality that drones are helping, even saving lives, is a powerful tool for capturing the imagination of our youth and pointing them toward STEM. Its going to be our jobeveryones hereto ignite their imaginations and help them see the rewards of becoming the next generation of aerospace professionals.

In addition to boosting the social benefits that drones can provide, and getting out the STEM message, we at the FAA are also keeping our eye on the long-term goal of integrating, not segregating, this new entrant into our National Airspace System.

We continue to work with NASA and many of our partners here on UTM concepts, which rely, in part, on a new rulemaking for remote identification.

Remote ID means the drone would provide identification and location information that can be received by UAS service providers and the FAA. We received 53,000 comments on the proposed rule by the time the public comment period closed in March, and we plan to issue a final rule in December this year.

In case youre wondering, thats a lot of commentspeople are passionate about this topic, and were listening.

Meanwhile, the Remote ID Cohort that we formed with industry is developing technology requirements for the UAS service suppliers that will manage the data exchange between a drone and the FAA.

Stick around today and tomorrow, and youll hear about all of these topics and more, including our vision on Advanced Air Mobility.

Weve got the experts herefrom the FAA, other government agencies, and industry. In particular, please note that FAA Air Traffic Organization COO, Teri Bristol, will provide an airspace integration update at 2 pm today, and tomorrow morning at 10 am, FAA Associate Administrator for Safety, Ali Bahrami, will offer more insight on UTM, Advanced Air Mobility, IPP and other topics.

Other senior FAA officials are also on the agenda, including a closing keynote tomorrow by Kirk Shaffer, FAA Associate Administrator for Airports.

Ill close by saying its very uncharacteristic for me to get this far into my remarks with so few mentions of the word….safety. Obviously, Ive saved the most important for last…

If youve heard me speak, you know that I always have a few bedrock things to say about safetyone, that its job number one for the FAA, and two, that safety is a journey, not a destination. You never stop watching, evaluating and correcting your operation to improve safety.

We at the FAA are here to help the drone community prosper. Consider that we enabled drone use for COVID-19 within our existing regulations and emergency procedures, as well as through special approvalssome in less than an hour. But safety is always our highest priority.

To be successful, safety has to be your highest priority as well. Youve heard it before, and Ill say it again, one clueless, careless or reckless flyer, in the wrong place at the wrong time, could ruin everyones day, both recreational and commercial, by threatening others in the airspace or on the ground.

If we all do our part, well ensure that drones will be… Here for Good.

So thanks for listening and for spending your time with us today and tomorrow, and hopefully for two days next month.

Have a great symposium.

Speech – Airports: The Heart of American Aviation

Administrator Stephen Dickson
Washington, DC

Remarks As Delivered

Good afternoon everyone, and thank you to the Airports Council International-North America and the American Association of Airport Executives for the invitation to be here today.

Im a relative newcomer to the FAA, having started in the role as Administrator back in August. But Im no stranger to airports, having spent the last 40 years as a pilot, first as a military pilot in the U.S. Air Force at home and abroad, then at Delta for 27 years.

Over the course of my career Ive operated into airports as diverse as Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, to Great Falls, Montana; from Eagle, Colorado, to JFK; and from Monroe, Louisiana to OHare. One thing I have realized is how incredibly efficient our airport system is in the US, especially compared to other airports around the world.

Through the collaboration of our airport operators, the FAA airports team, the Air Traffic Organization, the airlines and other stakeholders, we get tremendous utilization out of the investments in our airports. And we are currently seeing a tremendous amount of capital investment in our airports around the country. This is definitely a good thing for our communities and our economy.

At the FAA, Ive already had the chance to take part in a Part 139 airport certification inspection at the Reagan National Airport, including an airboat water rescue demonstration. The thoroughness of these reviews and the dedication and professionalism of airport employees, working behind the scenes, always ready for contingencies, make me certain that the public is in good hands both in the air and on the ground when they travel.

As Administrator of FAA, its important to me that we celebrate and recommit to our longstanding relationships and partnerships with the airport community. We have worked with ACI and AAAE for more than 70 years to ensure the safety, capacity, and efficiency of our nations system of airports.

Our collaboration is vitally important, because airports are the heart of the U.S. aviation transportation system, an economic powerhouse that is without rival anywhere in the world. Without the heart, nothing is moving. Without a healthy heart, the viability and safety of the entire system is also at risk.

Im proud to say that the heart of our aviation system is beating strong and steady. Through congressional support and the ongoing collaboration between our Office of Airports and industry, we will continue to ensure the long-term health of our entire airport system.

The depth and breadth of the airport businessand the 19,000-plus landing facilities in our systemnever ceases to amaze me. Consider that within a 25-mile radius of where were sitting right now, there are three major international airports BWI Thurgood Marshall, Reagan National, and Dullesand dozens of public, private, military airports and heliports.

One of those airports, College Park, is the oldest continuously operating airport in the world and is where the Wright Brothers first demonstrated the usefulness of aviation to the military starting in 1909. College Park was also the site of the first U.S. Postal Air Mail service and the first controlled flight of a helicopter.

Also nearby, National airport, later renamed for a famous president, became the first airport to get groovy in the late 1960sthey cut grooves into the runway to reduce hydroplaning. Think about how many accidents and incidents that technology has prevented.

We are constantly planning for the future of our airports, and testing new technology. At another local airport, Leesburg Executive, controllers work with high tech computer tools and video feeds in front of high-definition screens in a dark room rather than a tower cab. The remote tower technologies and standard operating procedures they are using are still in the testing phase, but we are making progress.

At Dulles airport, we have cameras installed at various points on the approach and departure to gather data that will potentially influence future airport design standards.

Theres much more to come. In our fiscal year 2021 budget request, we are also requesting over $200 million in airport research and technology to improve airports not just today but well into the future.

This budget includes $40.6 million for the Airport Technology Research program, directed at the safe and efficient integration of new and innovative technologies into the airport environment. This includes an additional $1.4 million to conduct research and to develop standards related to urban air mobilityalso known as flying taxis. It also includes funding for new and innovative pavement materials testing.

The budget includes $170 million in our Research, Engineering & Development account to continue other research at the Tech Center in areas that will ultimately benefit airports. Included are fire safety, human factors, advanced materials, aircraft airworthiness, and unmanned aircraft systems research.

Youll be interested to know that in January, we opened a new $5 million research facility at the Tech Center to concentrate on one on our highest safety prioritiesfinding fluorine-free alternatives to PFAS firefighting foams. Were making progress, and in fact have begun baseline testing fluorinated foams, the first step in developing alternatives.

Our ultimate goal is to continue protecting the safety of the traveling public while also addressing this important environmental issue in collaboration with our government partners, including the Department of Defense.

From the Administration, to Secretary Chao, to Congress, we are getting the support we need to continue to provide the safest, most efficient airports possible. Our priorities dovetail with the DOTs: Reducing transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries; investing in infrastructure; innovating, and being accountable.

This is important, because the number of people using the transportation system is growing, and the only way to continue that successful growth is to maintain or increase the safety, efficiency, and capacity of all of our nations airports.

According to 2019 data from the Bureau of Transportation statistics, U.S. airlines carried approximately 926 million passengers. Thats up more than 4% compared to 2018 and more than 12% compared to 2016.

To keep up with growth and maintain safety and efficiency, we are working to expedite the granting of $3.17 billion in congressionally approved Airport Improvement Funding, or AIP, and $400 million in supplemental funding this year. That makes for a total of $3.57 billion going to airports this year, and a total of $1.9 billion in supplemental funding over the past three years.

This investment reflects DOTs and FAAs commitment to our nations airport infrastructure. It supports our continued focus on capacity, efficiency, and environmental sustainability of our airports, andmost importantlyour safety related development projects, including those that reduce runway incursions and reduce the risk of wrong-surface takeoffs and landings.

Not surprisingly, the bottom line for all of our activities, investments, and research has to be this: Safety must be maintained or improved, preferably withbut not dependent ona boost in efficiency and capacity.

That core value is nowhere more visible than our work with reducing the potential for runway incursions. Through our Runway Incursion Mitigation, or RIM, program, weve been focusing our analysis and risk assessments on runway incursions and wrong surface events.

The RIM program remains the gold standard for reducing runway incursions. The FAA has shown a reduction of more than 67% in runway incursion rates at airports where weve mitigated those problematic locations.Weve completed RIM modifications to runways and taxiways at close to 50 locations, and construction is underway at another 14 locations. We have mitigations for about 100 locations in the planning or design phase.

However, as with all things related to safety, the work is never done. In particular, the Office of Airports continues to encourage industry and sponsors to address airport geometry as a primary consideration when analyzing RIM locations.

We cant discuss safety without touching on the 737 MAX situation. First off, on behalf of everyone at the FAA, I would like to, once again, extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims of both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX accidents.

Our international air transportation network is a tightly woven fabric that is vital to the worlds economy. When that fabric unravels, we feel the effects globally. We have to look no further than these crashes to understand this. Onboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302which crashed one year ago on March 10were the citizens of 35 countries.

We will honor the memory of those who lost their lives by working tirelessly every day to ensure the highest possible margin of safety in the global aviation system.

For the MAX, I have been steadfast in saying that our return-to-service decision will be based solely on our assessment of the sufficiency of Boeings proposed software updates and pilot training that address the known issues for grounding the aircraft. I realize this grounding has had an impact on certain airports due to airline schedule changes, but our course is set. We have no choice. If the public is not confident in their aviation system, they simply will not fly.

We at the FAA have welcomed the scrutiny and feedback from near and far on how we can improve our processes. There have been multiple independent reviews launched to look at the 737 MAX and the FAAs certification and delegation processes. Going forward beyond the MAX, we are ready to stand up and speak out on key themes that are emerging regarding aircraft certification, operations, processes, and pilot training not only in the U.S., but around the world.

One of those key themes and one of my main goals is to promote the adoption of a Just Culture and Safety Management Systems, or SMS, throughout the aerospace system, including at certain Part 139 airports.

I know SMS for airports has been a long time coming, but I want to assure you that we have not forgotten this important sector. Ive directed our folks to take a strategic look at rolling out SMS at airports. Youve provided many great comments over the past 10 years, and many of you have voluntarily implemented SMS in your organizationsthank you for that. Rest assured, there is more to come on this subject.

Its important to note that when we look broadly at what we must do to meet the publics expectations of the highest possible levels of safety globally, we have to consider everything that impacts safety, even unusual or unplanned events like the spread of infectious diseases or drones affecting airport operations.

First Ill discuss the new Covid 19 virus.

The very connectedness that makes our industry so vital to the global economy also puts us on the front lines for protecting our citizens from outbreaks like Covid 19 within our borders. We must be proactive and strategic in our responsebut tactical as necessaryas we combat the threat.

Speaking of being proactive, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the airports that took the initiative to work across federal agencies to help with the U.S. response to the Covid 19 outbreak. In particular, Id like to thank those 11 funneling airports who have worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as Customs and Border Protection. Your help has been invaluable and effective, and it has been noticed.

The FAA is engaged at both the national and international levels on communicable disease preparedness.Within the United States, the FAA is collaborating and coordinating daily with the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Transportation Security Administration, and State and Local public health partners.

The FAAs role is essentially one of support and facilitation on this issue, but, as the focal point for aviation in the U.S. Government, we are very well positioned to bring together our civil aviation stakeholders and our international and interagency partners to work towards preventing the spread of communicable disease.

We are supporting our interagency and industry partners by facilitating operational discussions with our public health and homeland security partners. We have worked closely with CDC and CBP to develop crew health guidance and screening protocols to maximize protection of the traveling public while minimizing operational impacts to the aviation system, including airports.

We must be sure that we maintain the highest levels of safety for airports, whether we are responding to the novel coronavirus or working to integrate emergent technology and innovative new ideas that are reshaping our industry. Consider the meteoric rise in unmanned aircraft operations. In the U.S., weve registered about 1.5 million of these aircraft, thats already about five-times as many drones as manned aircraft in our registry.

The Office of Airports is actively working with the various FAA lines of business to integrate UAS into the airport environment, protecting aviation safety, while enabling airport operators to use drones for key functions. As you know, were conducting research on UAS Integration at airports to evaluate how they can be used to perform airport-centric operations, such as wildlife monitoring, aircraft rescue and firefighting operations, surveying, and pavement and infrastructure inspection.

We are also finalizing a research plan for evaluating UAS detection and mitigation technologies and establishing performance standards through the Tech Center, as well as reviewing proposals from airports looking to install UAS detection systems.

Since were talking new entrants, Ill also mention the rise in commercial space and spaceports. The FAA is making rapid progress in our regulatory role in commercial space transportation by paving the way for easier access to low Earth orbit through the National Airspace System.

Were doing this by streamlining the rules for commercial launch and re-entry while at the same time protecting national security and public safety. Theres really not much choice given that Commercial space launch activity in general has ramped up tenfold in just a few years, we either innovate and move forward, or risk being left behind.

We understand some airports embrace this new technology, but others are concerned about how it will impact their operations. All FAA lines-of-business are working together to develop operating procedures to minimize conflicts in our National Airspace System and better ways of coordinating with all of our stakeholders.

And speaking of stakeholderswhich includes communitieslets talk about noise.

Over the past two years, the FAA has implemented a standard, repeatable process to ensure productive and effective community involvement for new or modified air traffic procedures. We have also put in place the Noise Complaint Initiative, with a system called the Noise Portal, to more effectively and efficiently track and respond to noise complaints. We have been using the system internally since 2018 and anticipate opening this portal to the public by the end of March.

Of course the FAA will continue to pursue technological improvements to reduce noise, fuel burn and emissions under our Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) Program, which will continue to be funded in FY21. In addition to technological advancements, the FAA is assessing take-off and landing operational procedures in order to reduce aircraft noise near airports.

Historically, the FAAs noise strategy has been to hold local community roundtables with residents, airport management, government officials, and industry, to try to develop solutions where there are concerns.

In the future, wed like to develop tool kits tailored to address specific concerns of individual communities, prepare historical traffic analyses, and evaluate the feasibility of changes proposed through these roundtables to performance based navigation procedures. Our FY21 budget request includes $4.3 million for this work.

Ill close out by going back into the history books on this topic of noise. One month from nowApril 4will mark the 60th anniversary of the very first regulations the FAA issued to minimize aircraft noise at major airports, starting with LAX, New York Idlewildlater to become JFKand Washington National.

The rules were clearsafety was the highest prioritybut where possible, pilots and controllers could use procedural methodsminimum altitudes, preferential runways, and approach and departure routes over the least populated areasto offer relief to communities.

Obviously, aircraft these days are much quieter and environmentally friendlier, but the sheer number of machines in the air 24/7/365 makes the issue of noiseand other elements of our air transportation systema continuing concern not only for communities, but for airports and other stakeholders.

Im here to tell you that we were listening then, in 1960, and were still listening now.

And thank you for listening! I appreciate having the chance to speak with you today.

Speech – Back to the Future: The Winged Gospel

Administrator Stephen Dickson
Washington, DC

Remarks As Delivered

Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for attending today.

You know, watching that video makes me appreciate all the progress weve made in aerospace in a relatively short few years, and how fast were moving into the future.

It occurs to me that children born today, when they become teenagers, will think that getting their prescriptions or pizza dropped off at the house by a small delivery drone, is just the way its always been.

And when commuting into the city, or across town, theyll do what they think folks have done foreverorder up an autonomous electric flying taxi on their smart phone, and hop in without a care in the world for their safety.

Same goes for one day booking a regional flight on an ultra-efficient hybrid-electric passenger plane, taking a supersonic airliner to Europe, or perhaps a suborbital commercial flight to Singapore.

What well see as amazing progress, theyll write off as the everyday travel grind.

But thats a good thing! If you can thoughtfully and safely integrate new forms of transportation into the national aerospace systemand hardly anyone takes noticethat is great news.

We as regulators, however, have to notice everything. That transportation futurewhich we know is no longer just in the realm of science fictionkeeps us awake at night. Theres so much promise from innovation and technology, but at the same time, so much potential for problems if we dont get it right. So we have no choicewe need to get it right.

Our job at the FAA is to strike the right balance. We have to integrate these fast-moving, sometimes breathtaking, technologies that are transforming the aviation sector in a way that meets our missionto provide the safest, most efficient aviation system possible for the American public, one the world will continue to hold up as the gold standard for safety.

Youll be happy to know that weve thought about this, deeply, and that we have many strategies in motion. At the 60,000-foot level, well succeed by sticking to our cores values of safety, through integrity, innovation, and our workforce. At the ground level, well be preachinginternally and externallya winged gospel about how to take safety to the next level by following best practices in Just Culture, Big Data, Global Leadership, and People.

I mention the phrase winged gospel as an homage to Robert Hinckley, a distinguished aviation regulator from the early 1940s. Hinckley was responsible for the Civil Aeronautics Authority and foresaw a great demand for what aviation could offer.

The government at the time was, in many ways, in the same predicament then that we at the FAA are in todayon the bow wave of innovation and new entrants that could rapidly transform how we travel. How would they ensure safety? Where would they find a new generation of skilled workers to propel its growth?

A staunch advocate himself, Hinckley is said to have preached a winged gospel that tapped into Americas near-religious enthusiasm for aviation. History has faced us with the plain alternative, he would say. Flyor perish! His solution? America had to become air-conditioned.

Now rest assured, we at the FAA are not looking to duplicate Hinckleys fly-or-perish marketing campaign. But I do see some potential in reviving his call for the nation to become air-conditioned. He defined it as a saturation of the American people in aviation skills and a general comprehension of the significance of aviation. Not a bad idea at all, in my humble opinion.

Our country, right now, is on the arc of an aerospace renaissance similar to that on which the government found itself in the early 1940s.

Our predecessors at the time had just seen the first flight of the Douglas DC-4 Skymaster and the Lockheed C-69, which later became the venerable Constellation.

These four-engine piston-powered transport planes would become the founding fathers of todays long-haul aircraft. Aviators then had also just witnessed the first flight of the Bell XP-59A, a wholly new type of aircraft a jet. We all know how that innovation turned out…

Fast forward nearly 80 years and think about the kinds of firsts we routinely witness on the technology front. Rocket boosters dropping vertically back to earth, thrusting to a halt on the launch pad; Beth Moses, the first woman to go to space on a commercially launched vehicleSpaceShipTwo; a drone delivering a human kidney, an angel flight that doctors described as One small hop for a drone; one major leap for medicine.

And lets not forget first flights of several new commercial airliners that offer double-digit fuel reductions over previous generations. We all know that cutting fuel burnand our carbon footprint is a major design concern for everyone going forward.

I think its fair to say government and industry have made groundbreaking progress in fuel economy through aircraft and engine design, as well as through our air traffic management modernization initiatives and the approval of six drop-in alternative fuels for commercial use. Consider that todays fleet of aircraft in the U.S. already has an average fuel efficiency of nearly 60 passenger-miles per gallon, on par with the Toyota Prius hybrid…but much faster.

Speaking of faster…airframers are eyeing a potential renaissance in supersonic civil aircraft, and startup civil space companies are looking to connect New York and Shanghai in less than 40 minutes. How many of those kids born this year will, in their lifetimes, take a suborbital ride, maybe as a 50th birthday gift, or heck, maybe even for their 21st! Its coming. Commercial space launch activity in general has ramped up tenfold in just a few years.

In the unmanned sector, its a pretty safe bet there are first flights every day. And Im not talking so much about novel aircraft, but first flights of new applications.

We are seeing these innovative applications in many cases through our Integration Pilot Program, which Secretary Chao launched in 2018.

Our operations-first strategy allows us to take the lessons learned from these initiatives and write better rules for integratingnot segregatingdrones into our nations airspace.

Of course, the FAA has to ensure that these new entrants are safe before they can take part in regular National Airspace System operations, and sometimes that does mean new regulations.

The FAA recently issued two notices of proposed rulemaking, one that will require drone operators to provide remote identification for their aircraft, and one that proposes how we will certify package delivery drones heavier than 55 lbs. We plan to finalize by years end, the remote ID rulea key enabler for beyond-visual-line-of-sight, or BVLOS, and the drone traffic management systems that weve been working on with NASA.

BVLOS is essential for Urban Air Mobility, or UAM, better known as flying taxis. According to my team, we are currently engaged with the builders of more than 15 electric vertical takeoff and landing UAM aircraft projects. In January, we saw North Americas first public demonstration of an autonomous two-seat flying taxian eHang EH216 taking flight in Raleigh, albeit with no passengers.

Were using a crawl, walk, run approach as we mature the aircraft technologies and air traffic management procedures to do this. And at this point, Ill note that were still in the crawling phase for both but making rapid progress.

Thats a lot of action, and were arguably far beyond what Mr. Hinckleys generation could have imagined. But just like back then, along with the promise, comes the potential challenges. Our job is to make sure that any aircraft or systems coming to market will meet the publics sky-high expectations for safety. If the public perceives a new entrant as unsafe, that business is simply not going to fly.

How do we meet those expectations? Along with sticking to the core value of safety, well be preaching the winged gospel of four themesJust Culture, Global Leadership, Big Data, and People.

Just Culture: Done correctly, a Just Culture will generate the data an operator or business needs to figure out whats really happening in their operation. If you know about safety risks you can mitigate the risks and fix the processes that led to those errors. Ill explain later in our Fireside Chat how Just Culture and other best practices will play a role in our work going forward beyond the Boeing 737 MAX.

Global Leadership: We at the FAA will lead globally by working with other authorities around the world to ensure we meet the publics expectations of the highest possible levels of safety.

Big Data: We must continue leaning into our role as a data-driven, risk-based decision-making oversight organization that prioritizes safety above all else.We do that in part by implementing Safety Management Systems supported by compliance programs.

And People: Its now time to show the next generation what incredible opportunities lie ahead for them in our field, both personally and professionally. Lets get them air-conditioned.

So thats my winged gospel for today. I look forward to working with everyone in this room and throughout the industry to bring to fruition the incredibly bright U.S. transportation future as safely, efficiently and sustainably as humanly possiblewhile remaining a model for the world to follow.

Thank you again for coming and listening, and now Ill answer some questions as we sit down for the Fireside Chat.