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Speech – Helicopter Association International @Work Series

Administrator Stephen Dickson
Virtual Meeting

Thanks Jim, for the introduction and the invitation. Im always happy to talk when the topic is aircraft and safety.

Thats especially true when were talking about a sector that does so much good for society.

We saw this in the spring without a doubt when COVID-19 caused a large percentage of our air transportation network to go dormant but not rotorcraft. Helicopter operations were back to normal levels by mid-May.

Whether for, police, EMS, utilities, corporate shuttles, or literally hundreds of other purposesrotorcraft are essential. No other flying machine can do the same thing. Everyone here knows that, and by being associated with HAI, its clear that youre dedicated to doing whats best for the industry.

My reason for being hereand its the reason Ive been attending a lot of safety meetings latelyis to ask that we all work togethergovernment, industry, and academiato figure out how to raise the bar on helicopter safety.

Theres reason to be optimistic. December 1st marked the first time in almost 40 years that weve gone three consecutive months without a fatal accident, with respect to type-certified and restricted category rotorcraft. And its not because flight hours were downit was quite the opposite.

Idlike to think the period of safe operation has to do with the efforts by organizations like HAI, the US Helicopter Safety Team, the FAA Safety Team, and others.

We all know the damage that accidents do, beyond those involved. Accidents prevent industries from realizing their full potential. We can take a lesson from the airline industry, where safety has reached an unprecedented level, and passengers have the luxury of pretty much taking safety for granted.

I can tell you as a former airline guy, that reaching that level of safety is not easy. It requires a lot of hard work in collaborating, partnering, and sharing of information and data between everyone who has a role in the systemthe FAA, manufacturers, pilots, mechanics, controllers, flight attendants, and many others.

The aviation industry, not just the airlines, is increasingly using safety management systems, or SMS, to formalize and streamline this flow of information and data within an organization. As you know, SMS is a required element of Part 121 airline operations, and were progressively deploying those practices throughout the aerospace industry.

Part and parcel of SMS are the practices of Flight Data Monitoring and Safety Reporting. These are proactive, data-driven approaches to oversight that prioritize safety above all else. To be successful, these programs rely on a Just Culture that places great value on front-line employees raising and reporting safety concerns.

With a Just Culture, pilots and aviation workers feel empowered to report honest mistakes and issues without fear of retribution. That atmosphere gives workers the freedom to report and provide their management with data they can use to get a heads-up on what might be an accident in the making.

We are encouraging operators to adopt and use Flight Data Monitoring as feedback into their training programs and, ideally, make it part of an SMS process.

When we integrate safety management principles into the design and manufacturing processes, we ensure a systems approach to safety by coordinating risk management processes and feedback loops between design, manufacturing, operation, and maintenance.

You can see that were firm believers in the power of SMS. In fact, right now, the FAA is targeting spring 2022 to publish a proposed SMS rule that will apply to Air Taxis, certain Air Tour Operators, Repair Stations, and PMA parts providers. Were also working on an SMS for airports.

Of course, you dont have to wait for the rules. By voluntarily implementing an SMS, an operator can identify hazards and head off incidents or accidents by putting safety risk management processes in place. The key is being able to identify and understand the risks in your operation, and thats what an SMS provides.

What SMS leads to is good data, and good data drives good decisions.

Capitalizing on the success of the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing, or ASIAS, program with commercial air carriers and fixed-wing general aviation, the FAA is working with industry to expand ASIAS to include the rotorcraft community.

Were working with industry, HAI, and other partners to push ASIAS to the forefront of helicopter safety. Weve stood up an ASIAS Rotorcraft Issue Analysis Team, a key initial step for bringing the rotorcraft community into the fold.

ASIAS can take us to the next level of safety in rotorcraft. Its centralized database allows teams to dive into that data to be predictive of accidents and incidents and hazards and risks, while maintaining key protocols and data protections critical to the success of the program.

You can scan the data to identify potential hidden risks from flight operations that, if left unchecked, could lead to accidents. Ideally, youll share the findings with the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team, so that they can develop mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of fatal accidents for everyone.

There are other important ways to share data and information as well.

We have Go Local Workshops, where we take the FAAs Safety Team, or FAAST Team, and industry safety experts directly to local pilots to discuss certain accident scenarios as a starting point to educate pilots on decision-making.

We had to suspend these in-person meetings temporarily due to COVID-19, but the good news is that were beginning to test virtual workshops where participants vote in real time on how pilots should react to challenges during a precarious helicopter flight.

A great way to share your experiences and learn about the best practices of others is to participate in our newly instituted helicopter InfoShare program. InfoShare, if youre not aware, is a program we started in partnership with the airline industry, but its success is leading other sectors, including business aviation, and now rotorcraft, to adopt the same model.

Another avenue for sharing best practices is through the Helicopter Safety Advisory Council, which has developed recommended practices for oil and gas industry rotary-wing operators that are easily adaptable to other helicopter sectors.

I know its clich to say we need to think outside of the box, but for the rotorcraft sector, thats what I really need all of us to do right now. For 15 years now, the helicopter fatal accident rate has remained roughly the same.

Our latest stats are a great indicator, but its too soon to know if its a one-off or a lasting trend.

I want to believe its the latter, because no accident, and more so, no fatal accident, is acceptable. Thats why the FAA supports the U.S. Helicopter Safety teams vision of reaching zero fatal accidents. With government and industry experts, some from the FAA, theyre taking a scientific approach and urgingnot mandatingthe adoption of safety proposals supported by data.

Were also strongly advocating for operators to make voluntary, safety upgrades where beneficial, including helicopter occupant protection features.

Why is that so important? Because blunt force trauma injuries are linked to more than 90 percent of helicopter fatalities.

For new helicopter designs, certification rules require potentially lifesaving protection through crash resistant seats and surrounding structures. But the thousands of helicopters in our legacy fleet arent required to have these features. Why not consider retrofitting these upgrades?

Other retrofit safety options wed like to see, include crash resistant fuel systems. As required in our 2018 Reauthorization, the FAA is requiring new production helicopters built after April 5, 2020, to have these systems out of the box. But we would really like to see these same systems available and operators voluntarily installing them on our legacy helicopter fleet.

I think you can see that we already have many options available to help improve the safety record of the rotorcraft industry, and that were always looking for new ideas.

Thats where you come in. Please use these types of events to recalibrate and recommit to helicopter safety, and tell your friends who couldnt join in today. Now is the time. We have the critical mass to make real change.

When we make the rotorcraft industry as safe as it possibly can be, we save lives in the process, and well make progress in our quest to achieve zero fatal accidents.

Thanks again for the invite, Jim, and now Ill take your questions.

Speech – Oklahoma 2020 State of the Aerospace Industry

Administrator Stephen Dickson
Virtual Event

Thank you Judy, for that kind introduction and thank you to the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce for your efforts to advance the safety and efficiency of the aerospace industry, which has a vital role in Oklahomas economy. The FAA recognizes and appreciates the Chambers commitment to our industry, and to aviation safety.

You cant talk about the Oklahoma economy without talking about the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, or MMAC. With a workforce of more than 6,300 employees, its Oklahomas fourth largest employer. In addition, 1,000 to 2,000 students from across the United States are advancing their skills at the Center to successfully enter and participate in the nations workforce of the future. The MMAC has been contributing to aviation excellence for 74 years and will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2021.

I proudly point out the number of young people at our center because, like the Chamber, the FAA knows that for our nation to keep our edge in the global aerospace industry, we must continually look for ways to advance Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education. Its not a coincidence that advancing STEM-related aerospace fields is at the heart of much of the Centers mission. The Center is doing their part to ensure they are attractive to the workforce of the future, and I am pleased they were recognized last week as a Top Place to Work across the state of Oklahoma.

Latest figures show the center has $2 billion in assets and adds $1.65 billion each year to the economies of the surrounding communities.

Externally, the Center plays a critical role in two key presidential initiatives to streamline the federal government and promote national security. We are doing this through process optimization, cost reductions, and collaboration across the FAA and government.

Within the Center are core capabilities the FAA depends on to stay on the leading edge of the aerospace world. Government and industry often look to these core capabilities for advice and research in aerospace and non-aerospace arenas.

At the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, or CAMI, were researching aviation issues related to COVID-19. For instance, the data weve collected and the studies weve conducted on the aircraft cabin environment have provided a framework to help manufacturers improve cabin air quality on board.

And our experts dont limit themselves to aircraft cabins. With its human factors research capabilities, CAMI has taken a lead role in the cutting-edge field of commercial space transportation. They conducted the research that resulted in guidance for how to screen whether civilians can endure the rigors of space flight. Thats particularly important given in the coming years when suborbital rides become practically available and affordable.

Other groundbreaking research underway at CAMI will help pilots see through the weather and fly like they are in visual conditions, essentially giving enhanced sight to pilots.

Through this researchwhich involves the most modern head-up displays and flight vision systemsengineers and scientists are determining how to safely expand aircraft operations in instrument weather conditions. For example, were studying how to use new sensors and display technology to give pilots the situational awareness they need to complete the final portion of a flight using electronically enhanced vision rather than natural sight. This will give a big edge to those who equip.

Ill be the first to tell you as a former airline pilot, that these technologies can change the way we fly in the future. At the FAA, we refer to these types of procedures and technologies as Equivalent Visual Operations. Oklahoma is a big part of that future.

Lets talk about a few of the other out-of-this-world assets at CAMI:

  • We have a retired Boeing 747-100 that has its cabin partitioned into four section in order to do multiple research and training activities at the same time.
  • We have a Flexible Cabin Evacuation Simulator that simulates the cabin of multiple types of narrow-body aircraft, like a regional jet, to study how passengers can get out when the flight attendants tell them to EVACUATE! In the simulation, which may include theatrical smoke, they see the real environment through simulated windows. And when they step out, the cabin is skewed in pitch and roll to simulate a less than stellar landing.
  • We have a Biodynamics Impact Track. This is a sled with test dummies on two sets of rails that simulates crash dynamics to a maximum of 50Gs and photographs the action at 1,000 frames per second. We use this capability to study body impact, energy absorbing seats, restraints, and seat certification.
  • We have a forensic Toxicology Analytical Research lab that puts Miami CSI to shame. The lab allows us to stay at the forefront of drug and chemical testing and forensic toxicology research.
  • We are also evolving how we deliver training. In the Air Traffic Control Training and Performance Lab, scientists research how controllers perform on a wide array of cognitive, non-cognitive. and other complex performance measures. That research then helps us to deploy the best training possible for air traffic controllers, which is particularly important as the technology they use for their jobs evolves.
  • Last but not least, theres the Portable Reduced Oxygen Training Enclosure, or PROTE (Pr-oh-t), a training tool first implemented at Monroney.
    – It used to be that if pilots, or anyone else, wanted to experience the effects of hypoxia in a controlled environment, they had to travel to one of the handful of hypobaric chambers around the country.
    – Naturally, that limited the number of people who could experience hypoxia. PROTE simplifies the process greatly by having the participants breathe modified air with oxygen levels cut down to 7 percent from the usual 21 percent, which is equivalent to an altitude of 25,000 ft.
    – Through the test, they can discover their individual hypoxia symptoms. PROTE opens the experience to a much broader swath of pilots at any location across the U.S. I think youd agree that its better to learn these symptoms with PROTE rather than in the cockpit or cabin.

We have talked a lot about research, but theres another huge component of MMAC that you air traffic controllers out there are familiar withthe MMAC Training Academy. The academy provides technicaltraining to FAA engineers and technicians that deploy and maintain all of the equipment across the NAS including major systems like radar and instrument landing systems. They also train FAA aviation safety inspectors who work directly with the airlines.

Like most training providers these days, the Academy is modernizing how it delivers the educational experience. As an example, during radar training courses, students can now tap into a live feed of certain radar systems during classroom training that previously relied only on static presentations. Word of the academys capabilities gets around too, in fact the Department of Homeland Securitys Customs and Border Protection sends its equipment operators and technicians to the academy for technical training. Even Commercial Space Transportation benefits from the incredible talent at the FAA Academy. The Academy developed a training course to help domestic and international government organizations navigate the process of commercial space licensing, the key areas of FAA responsibility in space.

Speaking of sharing the wealth, MMACs Enterprise Services Center does just that. It is the shared service provider for the financial and IT services for 37 different federal agencies. In fact, many of you may be surprised to learn the Enterprise Services Center provided financial management services across all nine operating modal administrations for the Department of Transportation.

Beyond MMAC, theres a lot of other aerospace to talk about in Oklahoma. When it comes to commercial space transportation, you get it. While you arent launching rockets at least right nowyouve had an FAA licensed site for doing just that since 2006. At one time, several companies were eyeing the spaceport for suborbital passenger rides and beyond, including Rocketplane Kistler and Armadillo Aerospace, at the Clinton-Sherman Industrial Airpark.

To help keep the airspace system running, the FAA Logistic Center in Oklahoma City provides consulting, engineering, repair, distribution, and technical support for air traffic control services in the United States and 44 countries where we fly.

And to meet Oklahomas long-term goal of growing your airports infrastructure, the FAA has invested nearly $90 million in Airport Improvement Program grants for various projects throughout the state.

Before I sign off, Id like to give kudos to MMAC Director Michelle Coppedge, for her active role in the chamber and for forging close relationships with the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, as well as the local two-year community colleges and the vital roles that they play.These Universities and community colleges are critical partners in creating a healthy and diverse STEM workforce pipeline for the Center. We appreciate her efforts, but I know she could use the help of Oklahoma businesses in becoming ambassadors for the excellent career opportunities available in your state.

The sky is the limit for those opportunities in the future. You know, thats been the case since the early days of aviation. Back in 1928, theres a good reason the Braniff brothers started their storied airline careers here. Around the same time, Wiley Post, widely considered the father of Oklahoman aviation, began his quest for aviation records. He was not deterred by the fact that hed lost an eye in an oil rig accident. He would go forward and achieve world records for taking aircraft around the world and to altitudes that were unimaginable in the early 20th Century. To me, thats the spirit that fuels the aerospace industry in Oklahoma.

And from my perspective as a pilot, it is truly inspiring that Sooners are advancing Posts lead, continually taking their state to greater heights of aviation safety and efficiency.

Thank you. Its been a pleasure speaking with you. I can take some questions now.

Speech – Our Finest Hour

Administrator Stephen Dickson
Washington, DC

Thank you TJ, and thank you to the Aero Club of Washington for inviting me back again this year. Now, that could mean you were happy with me the first time around, or more likely youre just nice people giving me one more chance. Or maybe youre just curious about how all of this will work from a ZOOM rectangle.

Just think about how the world has changed since I last talked with youheck, just since March. The upshot for me has been 12 months of on-the-job trainingputting in some rudder and cross-control inputs to keep the agency and the aerospace sector on course in gusty winds. The hand flying has required a lot of energy, and taken precedence over strategy.

It reminds me of something former Administrator Marion Blakey once said: When you become FAA Administrator, you end up fielding fastballs and curveballs all day like a catcher with two mitts. I know what she meant. Actually sometimes I feel more like Im digging into the batters box after the pitcher just threw a 100-mph fastball at my head.

But I am very proud to say thatdespite all the cross-control inputs to stay on coursewe have continued to accomplish much of our strategic flight plan, and we are well-positioned to lead the aerospace sector into a bright futureone that is full of opportunity.

Before I go any further, Id like to offer myand the FAAscongratulations to Michael Quiello for being presented with the Aero Clubs Donald D. Engen Trophy for Aerospace Excellence. You could not have selected a more deserving, consummate aviation professional for this prestigious award.

Michael is a dear friend and we have worked together for many years. He has devoted a lifetime to making our industry the envy of the world when it comes to safety. Using his years of military and airline operational experience, hes become a fixture in the CAST and ASIAS movements, helping us transition our safety mindset from forensic to data-driven and proactiveworking toward being predictive.

Most recently, Michael was instrumental in leading CAST to develop, and publish globally, a consolidated list of key safety elements for aviation organizations to monitor during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. This work has been foundational to FAAs efforts to continue its role as the standard-bearer for aviation safety around the globe, even in the midst of a global health emergency.

Michaels expertise and willingness to take on new challenges has directly contributed to establishing a higher standard of excellence in aviation safety, both domestically and internationally. Michael youre an inspiration to us all.

Inspiration is a very relevant theme right now. Our supply of it can run short in times like this, when so many are sick and dying; our industry is struggling for survival, and most of us not able to come together for a shoulder to lean on.

But Ive experienced a lot of things these past 16 months as FAA Administrator that have inspired me and, quite frankly, left me energized and optimistic for the future of our industry. Out of crisis comes opportunity for those who look for itand are able to adapt. And we are doing just that.

Ill start by saying Im inspired by the safety pioneers who put us in a position to be as successful as we have been in creating an unparalleled level of safety.

We can thank Michael and all of the safety advocates in government, industry, labor, and academia for that. Their work over many decades has saved countless lives in accidents avoided, and will continue to do so.

Because of their landmark effortsthrough groundbreaking improvements like Safety Management Systems, CAST, ASIAS and data analysis methodswe now have the safest form of transportation ever createdour U.S. airline industry.

Thanks to them, we have tools that the FAA and industry routinely use to evaluate any newand potentially dangeroushazard to the aviation system. Lets just say weve used these tools a lot this year. Ill talk more about that later.

By dedicating their lives to this profession, theyve made our lives safer, and theyve left us with an aviation system that has made the world smallerand will do so again when we come out on the other side of this virus.

And thats vital, because aviation will be the key to jumpstarting our economy again, in part by getting COVID-19 vaccines from factories to people. And once were freely moving about the world, aviation will again fundamentally redefine geographic boundaries and connect people and cultures from every corner of the planet.

Theres a caveat though: Our safety record and the aviation system we enjoy can never be taken for granted. Youve probably heard me say it before: Safety is a journey, not a destination, and its a journey that we are on together. We must lead with a passion for excellence and always strive to improve, but we must also lead with humility.

We will continue to chart a course that will position the FAA to continue paying safety forward for the benefit of future generations.

Im inspired by an FAA workforce that is simply civil service at its best. Those who know me well, know that I am a history buff. Recently Ive been working my way through a three-volume set about Winston Churchill, and although I could never hope to match his rhetorical prowess, I might say we may someday look back and call this our finest hour.

Our people have risen to challenge after challenge, using creativity and innovation to find new ways to complete our mission 24-7-365, never stopping. You know your people are dedicated when you have to force them to take a day off every now and then to recharge their batteries.

In October, we formed the COVID-19 Vaccine Air Transport Team to make sure the global pharmaceutical industry can safely speed vaccines to the people who need them most. Teams from multiple disciplines across the agency are seeing to it that airlines have the assistance they need to safely carry out the mission.

This is not an abstract concept for uswe know it will save lives. The FAA is grieving the loss of several of our own from COVID-19. They came from all walks of life, from all parts of the country, and from all specialtiesa manager from Ohio; a technician from Cape May, an inspector in Oklahoma City, an airway transportation systems specialist, an aircrew program manager, an air traffic controller, a management assistant, a contractor, a janitor, a telecommunications expert.

Their untimely passing leaves a big hole in our workforce and in the hearts of their coworkers.

We honor their memoriesand their familiesby continuing the agencys important work, particularly as it relates to COVID-19 response and recovery and, now, vaccine distribution.

As you know, one of the vaccines has to be kept at very cold temperatures during transport, which is no small feat. Airlines will typically do this by packing the shipping containers with dry ice, but nowhere near the amounts necessary to move a large payload of this particular vaccine across continents at these temperatures.

Our team is enabling these efforts scientifically and in a disciplined but innovative fashion, by using the Safety Risk Management tools that are part of our Safety Management Systems.

Rather than trying to obtain waivers or modify the shipping equipmenttime consuming and expensive propositionsthe first airline to approach us was able to put controls and mitigations in place to significantly increase the amount of dry ice they carry on board for these flights, boosting the number of vaccine doses in the cargo hold, while guaranteeing the safety of the crew.

The result will be more vaccine, delivered faster, with more lives protected or saved. In fact, on November 27, the FAA supported the first mass air shipment of a vaccine using these controls.

We are working with other airlines tapped to move millions of doses of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines and related supplies around the globe, some with much less restrictive temperature controls.

The aircraft is only part of the equation, however. Were also working with manufacturers and airports to make sure this precious cargo is moved safely, and within the regulations. And were making sure that our air traffic services are available and efficient around the clock to support these flights.

Looking back, Im amazed at how much we have accomplished in such a short time since all of this started in late January.

We stood up entirely new elements within the FAA from scratch, without the luxury of time to research and carefully plan our approach. There simply was no time. We had to act and adapt quicklyremember that 100-mph fastball?

Repatriation flights; working recovery plans with interagency and international partners; splitting controllers into dedicated teams to minimize COVID-19 risks; distributing $10 billion in CARES Act funding; rolling out COVID-19-related exemptions to air carrierslike relief for medicals and recurrent trainingto keep people and critical goodslike PPE and now vaccinesmoving by air.

And these activities are still ongoing today.

Outside of our COVID response, my admiration for our people would not be complete without mentioning the Boeing 737 MAX team. For 20 months, this large team of safety workers vigorously followed a methodical and deliberate process to address the issues that played a role in the tragic loss of 346 lives in the Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian 302 crashes.

Their mission was crystal clear: to identify the causes and develop the solutions that prevent these accidents from ever happening again. My mission was to fly the aircraft and evaluate it for myself. When I met with the families, I always pledged that we would work our hardest to honor their loved ones by improving the margins of safety for aviation around the world. And with these fixes we have done so.

As you know, I rescinded the grounding order on November 18th, and I am 100% confident that this aircraft is safe.

Were not done yet, though, and part of the remaining work is to advance safety globally by putting systemic process improvements in place and with our partners in the international aviation community, take a new look at foundational safety capabilities, such as pilot training, that will enable us to continue to raise the bar on aviation safety around the globe.

Im inspired by what we are seeing with the developments in new technology and innovation. The opportunities are limitless and I dont think we could have imagined where we are now just a few short years ago.

When you combine innovation with collaboration, you get breakthroughs. With Gen. Chuck Yeagers passing this week, we remember the quantum leap that put his name in the history booksbreaking the sound barrier, arguably one of the greatest aviation accomplishments of the 20th Century. By his own admission, there were no undue difficulties with the flight, highlighting the amazing work from a dedicated team of designers, engineers and technicians who collaborated and did the quiet work behind the scenes to make it all happen.

That collaborative spirit continues today, and that to me is what makes this the most excitingif not the most excitingtime in aerospace history.

The week before Thanksgiving, I stood on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center and gazed up at the future. A commercial SpaceX Falcon 9 booster and Dragon capsule that was set to take four astronauts to the International Space Stationand later I looked on with pride as it did just thatflawlessly.

And because it was a night launch and the weather was perfect, we could actually see the re-entry burn as the first stage booster decelerated and a few seconds later stuck the landing on the drone ship in the Atlantic. Incredible.

I was watching much more than one vehicleI was seeing the metamorphosis of an industry that used to be government-operated into a commercial venture that willin the futureallow any one of us to purchase a seat to space.

And I had the privilege of watching the launch with about 30 middle and high school students, some of whom will no doubt be the future leaders of our aerospace industry.

As you know the FAA licenses those launches, where our role is to protect the public, national security, and the airspace. And while airspace activity has been depressed during COVID-19, commercial space operations are anything but.

We recently issued our new Streamlined Launch and Reentry Licensing Requirements final rule, aka SLR-2, which replaces old-school prescriptive requirements with flexible, performance-based criteria to support the needs of this fast-moving sector while ensuring the safety of the public.

And it couldnt come at a better time. Were forecasting as many as 56 commercial launches and reentries next year, up from the mid-30s this year.

And were taking the next step in the work that Chuck Yeager and his team accomplished in 1947.

The FAA recently initiated two rulemaking activities that will enable the reintroduction of supersonic aircraft into the fleet, starting with supersonic flight over water. Breaking the speed of sound over land would be restricted until technologies are developed to mitigate sonic booms. For that, NASA is doing research and as you know, industry is working on low boom technologies.

Much closer to the ground, the aerospace world is just as exciting.

At the FAA, our certification experts are already working with several Urban Air Mobility applicantsaka flying taxiswho have applied for type certification of full-scale aircraft. Dozens more companies are discussing conceptual prototypes and components with us.

As an agency, were making sure the policy and regulatory landscape welcomes exciting new entrants, while keeping safety as our North Star and ensuring that the National Airspace System continues to operate efficiently as it becomes more diversified. Were focused on operations, aircraft, airspace, infrastructure, and community.

Were taking cues here from our ongoing work with unmanned aircraft, which weve got a great deal more experience with, in part from Secretary Chaos Integration Pilot Program, or IPP, which has now evolved into a new program called BEYOND.

A key finding during the IPP was that drones can be of great benefit to society. Drones are literally, here for good. In fact, our first certified drone package delivery carriers, Wing Aviation and UPS Flight Forward, retooled their food and supply delivery models to include medicine deliveries for a variety of at-risk communities when COVID-19 struck.

From the regulators standpoint, were strategically guiding this promising industry with existing regulations where possible, but with updated or new rules where necessary.

In other words, we fly first, in a safe fashion, to gain experience. Then, write the rules. Thats how we will take these public-private partnerships and scale them to broader, system-wide operations.

Im inspired by the young people Ive been meeting. Last week, I was interviewed by a young man, Malik Senegal, for an upcoming episode of the FAAs new podcast, The Air Up There.

Malik is 23, an air transport rated pilot, who at that age, not surprisingly, is between airline jobs.

But what is inspiring about Malik is that instead of falling into a funk when COVID-19 shattered his airline dreams as he was furloughed from his job at a regional carrier, he instead kept his head up and looked for opportunities.

One of those opportunities resulted in him becoming one of the youngest pilots in the U.S. to earn a Boeing 777 type rating.

You cant help but be inspired by his positivity and drive when you talk to him. Remember that nameI think youll be seeing it again in the future.

Ive also been meeting with other young people, such as the group of middle and high school kids at the Cape when I was there for the SpaceX launch, and another group of drone enthusiasts of about the same age in Baltimore over a ZOOM call.

The future of aerospace rests in these bright eyes and big ideas. The FAA is heavily invested, both internally and externally, in finding ways to ensure that we have a robust pipeline of students like those I have been meeting. They are passionate, well trained, and ready to take the aerospace industry into the future.

Working with Secretary Chao, we appointed a 20-member task force comprised of representatives from industry, non-profits and academia that will make recommendations on how to bring more youth into American jobs in aviation.

We also just recently approved our first ever agency-side STEM AVSED strategic plan, and we built a new FAA organization to support the work here in DC and throughout the country.

There are so many new and exciting opportunities, jobs that didnt exist even 10 years ago. There couldnt be a more exciting time to get into this business, and its up to us to help them along that path.

I know there are challenges at the momentwe all recognize that. But with every challenge, there are always opportunities. Its up to us to find them. I remember something my father told me long ago, when Id have the occasional challenges in school or elsewhere. Hed say, when you wake up every morning, its another chance to excel.

Lets excel, and lets be inspired by all thats good in this industry, all that awaits us and the opportunities we have when we emerge from the IFR of COVID into clear blue CAVU skies

Last year when we were together, I spoke about how aviation makes the world smaller, fundamentally redefining geographic boundaries, providing economic opportunities and connecting people and cultures in ways that were unimaginable not too long ago.

Well, weve had to find new ways to stay connected for the time being. But I am convinced that as a result of this past year, we will discover that our bonds are stronger and were standing together, better prepared for the future. Soon, once again, we will be able to find comfort in being closer to those who share our common vision and goals for this fascinating industry.

Aviation will play a central rolemaybe even THE central rolein our recovery. Lets make it our finest hour as an industry.

Finally, as we approach the holidays and a new year, with new opportunities, and some new challenges, I wish you all health and happiness. Stay safe and take care.

Thanks again for inviting me.

Speech – Safety Leadership Never Sleeps

Administrator Stephen Dickson
Virtual Event

Thank you, Hassan (Shahidi), for that introduction, and thank you to the Flight Safety Foundation for inviting me to address this esteemed group of aviation safety professionals today. Its a pleasure to be here, even virtually.

I thought Id need a few weeks to prepare a keynote for such a high profile event as this, but when I saw the theme of your conferenceSafety Leadership and Global Collaboration During CrisisI realized that Id been readying for this speech morning, noon, and night, since I started work at the FAA in August 2019. Its been quite the journey…

Back then, the crisis consuming most of my time in terms of global leadership was the 737 MAX investigation and proposals for how to address various issues related to its design and certification, as well as to regain the publics trust in the system.

Starting in late January, we experienced a second crisis requiring international leadershipCOVID-19.

Both crises revealed how complex and interconnected our global transportation network has become. Its an incredibly safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly global network, but as we have seen all too clearly, especially with COVID-19, the system can come to a grinding halt in a hurry. Recovering on both accounts requires rebuilding trust with the flying public that travel by air is safe, regardless of the multitude of potential threats and no matter where in the world you are traveling.

I can tell you were learning a great deal about safety leadership and international collaboration as we work through these crises.

Lets start with COVID-19. Talk about changing a tire while zooming down the Autobahn at 160 kilometers an hour (100 mph)! We had to reinvent how FAA does some of its mission practically overnight, starting in late January, while keeping our focus on all of the usual safety work the FAA does.

And if you think my use of the word Zooming was a play on words, you are correct. We at the FAA are all about virtual meetings these daysand its been a blessing that has helped us stay connected to our workforce and our stakeholderswere connecting about 35,000 people per day in more than 6,000 ZOOM and other virtual meeting platforms daily.

I would certainly have preferred, a few minutes from now, walking out of the conference hall and down the Champs Elysees to dinner at an outdoor caf. But given our predicament, Im happy to meet with you virtually from my office near another French-inspired icon, LEnfant Plaza. I think youll agree that its more important than ever right now that we stay connected to share our lessons learned and concerns.

Youve probably heard me say before that not all knowledge comes from 800 Independence Avenuethe address of the FAA Headquarters buildingbut Im here to tell you that a lot of innovation and hard work does come from the FAA workforce throughout the U.S. and internationally. That drive and commitment is a key reason the FAA is known as a leader around the globe.

Going back to the early days of the response, we were faced with a somewhat undefined challenge that needed to be addressed immediately. We had to act quickly. We had to put our brains and expertise together to collaborate, to get the job done, or rather, get thousands of jobs done, in a hurry.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began in late January….

  • We repatriated nearly 125,000 Americans on nearly 1,300 flights from 139 countries through June;
  • We distributed about$10 billion in CARES Act funding through a whole new grant program to more than 3,000 airports in a matter of days.And oh by the way, our Office of Airports employees also had to move quickly to ensure safety when the carriers parked thousands of jetliners at airports when the bottom fell out of the travel market;
  • We rolled out a wide variety of COVID-19-related exemptions to airmenlike relief for medicals and recurrent trainingto ensure that our nations air transportation system kept critical goods and personnel moving by air, while continuing to ensure the safety of the system;
  • We innovated in how we do certification. One example: My aircraft production certification team developed and implemented remote technology techniques to help a business aircraft manufacturer earn the production certification for its new single-engine turboprop in July…
  • As many of you know, getting an FAA production certificate, in the good old days, required an on-site inspection and auditing of the majority of the required Quality System Elements…
  • To keep things moving, our Aircraft Certification folks came up with a hybrid version of the final auditmeaning they used virtual meeting technology to get the necessary FAA subject matter experts to the factory. This had never been done before…
  • As a result, the company had an epic daythey were able to recall more than 100 furloughed employees to begin building the turboprop…

Internationally, were working with EASA and other international authorities on mitigations for skill and knowledge degradation that undoubtedly occurs when pilots and aviation professionals go dormant. In other words, when traffic dips 90% and aviation professionals cannot do their jobs, how do we avoid safety risks when they come back to work?

We are also heavily involved in the ICAO Councils Aviation Recovery Task Force, or CART.

This group is taking a leading role in developing and now updating guidance for governments and industry to safeguard the health and safety of the traveling public and aviation workers, which is the key to restoring public confidence in the aviation system, and thereby assisting in global economic recovery. Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell has been serving as the U.S. representative to the CART since it came together in May.

Im pleased with the progress this group has made through its recommendations and Take-Off guidance for aircraft operators and airports. Ill add that the potential effectiveness of COVID-19 testing as part of reinvigorating air travel and opening borders looks promising and is a prominent topic in the ongoing CART discussions.

Simultaneously, in the U.S., the FAAalong with the Departments of Transportation, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Servicesled the development of a government-wide effort that resulted in publication of the Runway to Recovery, a document that supports U.S. implementation of the CART Take-Off guidance.

Like the Take-Off guidance, this national strategy for the healthy recovery of the passenger air transportation system is a living document. Meaning we are actively engaging with our airline and airport partners to find out what works and what we need to add, adjust, or refine based on the evolution of the virus and our knowledge of it.

The upshot is that a safe, secure, efficient, and resilient air transportation systemone that addresses threats like COVID-19is critical to reducing the public health risk, supporting the United States critical infrastructure needs, and assisting in recovery of our domestic and, indeed, the global economy. And whats good for our domestic travel industry will also be good for our international travel industry.

Along the same lines, certification of the Boeing 737 MAX flight control systems in the near future will also be a positive for the travel industry and the publics confidence. While I am not going to sign off on the un-grounding of the MAX until Im satisfied we have addressed all known safety issuesI will tell you that we are making excellent progress.

As most of you know, several weeks ago, I went out to Seattle and flew the MAX, fulfilling a promise that I made when I became FAA Administrator in August 2019. At the time, I said I would not allow the aircraft to fly again until I was confident enough to put my own family on it, and that is still the case. It was important to me, as a pilot with many thousands of hours at the controls of complex jet aircraftto experience the training and aircraft handling firsthand.

I completed that training and a flight the last week of September, and I can now say with conviction that I have full confidence that the new training will prepare MAX pilots to control and operate the aircraft under any failure scenario.

I took the computer-based training as recommended by the Joint Operations Evaluation Board, or JOEB, and followed that up with time in the 737 MAX simulator.

During this training, I reviewed 10 conditions, both normal operating modes and non-normal checklist procedures, and repeated those 10 in the actual aircraft. These conditions related not just to the MCAS, but to all changes made to the flight control laws.

The FAA and other regulatory authorities have worked tirelessly with Boeing for nearly two years. The FAA takes seriously the recommendations received from several independent expert panels, investigative agencies, and authorities globally.

Based on what weve learned, we have launched important initiatives focused on advancing overall aviation safety by improving our organization, processes, and culture.Were also continuing to work collaboratively with our fellow international aviation safety regulators.Our process is not constrained by a set schedule.

We followed every lead as we undertook an unblinking examination of this airplane and our own certification processes. We worked collaboratively with our global partners from Ethiopia, Indonesia, the National Transportation Safety Board, and many other boards of inquiry, to identify and resolve all known safety issues.

The FAA is committed to ensuring that the lessons learned from the losses of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302will result in an even greater level of safety globally. The families and friends of those onboard expectand deserveno less. A day doesnt go by that I and the entire team working this project dont think about them and feel your loss. When I met with the families, I pledged that we would work our hardest to honor their loved ones by improving the margins of safety for aviation around the world. We are continuing to do so every day.

If there is anything that has become apparent in the 19 months since Ethiopian 302, it is that passengersand their families and friendsexpect the same level of safety, no matter where in the world they are flying. As an international community of aviators, we all have a shared responsibility in making that happen. If the public does not feel the system is safe, they will not fly.

Throughout this process, the FAA has taken a holistic, comprehensive approach that includes examination of the aircraft systems. We are collaborating extensively with various investigative authorities, international agencies, civil aviation authorities, and other external agency experts. Our certification process has included extensive review of the system that played a key role in both crashesthe MCAS. This led to a number of design modifications on the airplane that have been validated in both full-motion simulators and in flight tests.

Whats left to do? We will review public comments on the Flight Standardization Boards preliminary report on proposed pilot training for the MAX, as well as consider public comments to the proposed Airworthiness Directive that mandates corrective actions needed to unground the aircraft for U.S. operators.

My subject matter experts will review Boeings final design documentation to make sure it complies with all regulations, and the multi-agency Technical Advisory Board will do the same.

Once the aircraft is ungrounded, the FAA will retain its authority to issue airworthiness and export certificates for all new MAX aircraft built since the grounding, and we will also review and approve training programs for all Part 121 operators flying the MAX.

I know it sounds like a lot, and it is, but as I said earlier, we are making excellent progress toward a safe return to service.

Looking beyond the next few months, we are continuing to explore a number of broader systemic improvements in aviation safety, like moving to a more holistic versus transactional approach to aircraft certification and encouraging all companies in the aerospace sector to embrace a Just Culture mindset and Safety Management Systems.

We have also been working with the international aviation community on foundational safety capabilities, such as pilot training, that will enable us to continue to raise the bar on aviation safety around the globe. With the FAAs encouragement, ICAO has launched a new Personnel Training and Licensing Panel, which will include a focus on flight path management and automation dependency. We expect the Panels first meeting to take place in the coming months.

Focusing more on pilots, in particular, we have to do a better job of integrating human factors into the end-to-end design, training, and operations processes. In other words, the system design must support the pilot in training to do his or her job, and then in doing that job.

Regarding automation, we need to focus on more than reducing pilot errors. We must also analyze how pilots contribute to safety and how humans can best work with automated systems. You cannot engineer the human out of the process. As weve seen too painfully in the past, automation cant do it all, so were continuing our research in this area.

Lets face it, the legacy airliner, with crew of two, is going to be around for a long, long time, so a good deal of our research is directed toward boosting safety in terms of manual and cognitive flight skills. We were preparing to start a simulation study with airline crews earlier this year to study manual and cognitive skills on the airline flight deck, but we had to postpone because of COVID-19. What we want to do in part is to determine what maneuvers we should expect pilots to be able to perform competently by hand.

Recently, the FAA has updated its air carrier training requirements to include the more manual flying skills, such as slow flight and unreliable airspeed training with a specific focus on flying the aircraft solely with reference to pitch and power.

We also published a Safety Alert, SAFO 17007, that provides guidance for air carriers to develop automation policies that encourage pilots to maintain proficiency in manual flying. Hopefully, youve heard of it!

Were also working on a new Advisory Circular that will include guidance on manual flight operations, as well as on managing automated systems, pilot monitoring, and energy management. This is part of a broader look at what it takes for pilots to most safely, efficiently, and effectively control the path of the aircraft from gate-to-gate, in other words Flight Path Management. We expect to publish that AC by the end of 2021.

None of this is to say that the aviation system we have right now is not safe and efficient. We all know that it is efficient, and it is incredibly safe. In fact, the International Air Transport Association calculates that, on average, a passenger could take a flight every day for 16,581 years before experiencing a fatal accident in which all onboard perish.

But those odds are of no comfort to the families and friends who have lost a loved one in an aviation accident. We have to earn the publics trust everyday; we must continually improve the margins of safety for the entire travel experience. That means continuously evolving, and constantly evaluating, the safety bar and raising it. To do it right, we must also be leaders for this movement around the world. It is a global system!

Thats safety leadership. Taking responsibility for the air transportation system as it stands; improving it as best we can; leaning forward to identify the safety challenges ahead; and collaborating far and wide to make sure we deploy the best, most universal, and practical solutions to boost aviation safety and public confidence in the system.

Thank you for listening.

Speech – Together, We Go Higher

Administrator Stephen Dickson
Virtual Event

Hello everyone, and thank you for joining us today for the FAAs Rotorcraft Safety Conference. Id like to thank Lance Gant, Director of the FAAs Compliance and Airworthiness division, and his entire team for continuing this safety conversation in the virtual environment until we can meet again in person.

Id also like to thank Steve, Lance, and Wayne, for opening the conference with an excellent discussion about the FAAs certification and flight standards priorities for rotorcraft.

Certification and Flight Standards are two of the many components that support the FAAs broad safety mandate, which is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.

Rotorcraft are essential to the efficiency and productivity of that aerospace system.

We saw this in the spring without a doubt when COVID-19 caused a large percentage of our air transportation network to go dormant but not rotorcraft. Helicopter operations were back to normal levels by mid-May.

Whether for, police, EMS, utilities, corporate shuttles, or literally hundreds of other purposesrotorcraft are essential. No other flying machine can do the same thing. Everyone here knows that, and you want whats best for the industrythats why youre here.

My reason for being here, and the reason the FAA is having this conference, is to both recognize this unique industry and to put our heads togethergovernment, industry and academiato figure out how to move the ball forward on safety.

To realize the full potential of any sector of aviation, safety has to be its top priority. Its no secret that the airline industry is the gold standard when it comes to unprecedented safety levels.

One of the key elements to the success story is the collaboration, partnering, and sharing of information and data between everyone who has a role in the systemthe FAA, manufacturers, pilots, mechanics, controllers, flight attendants, and many others. I also include survivors in this list, as they have experienced what can happen when we dont get it right.

We are increasingly using safety management systems, or SMS, to formalize and streamline this flow of information and data within an organization. As you know, SMS is a required element of Part 121 airline operations, and were progressively deploying the practices throughout the aerospace industry.

Part and parcel of SMS are the practices of Flight Data Monitoring and Safety Reporting. These are proactive, data-driven approaches to oversight that prioritize safety above all else. To be successful, these programs rely on a Just Culture that places great value on front-line employees raising and reporting safety concerns.

With a Just Culture, pilots and aviation workers feel empowered to report honest mistakes and issues without fear of retribution. That atmosphere gives workers the freedom to report and provide their management with data they can use to get a heads-up on what might be an accident in the making.

We are encouraging operators to adopt and use Flight Data Monitoring as feedback into their training programs, and ideally, make it part of an SMS process.

When we integrate safety management principles into the design and manufacturing processes, we will ensure a systems approach to safety by coordinating risk management processes and feedback loops between design, manufacturing, operation, and maintenance.

You can see that were firm believers in the power of SMS. In fact, right now, the FAA is targeting spring 2022 to publish a proposed SMS rule that will apply to Air Taxis, Air Tour Operators, Repair Stations, and PMA parts providers. Were also working on an SMS for airports.

Of course, you dont have to wait for the rules. By voluntarily implementing an SMS, an operator can identify hazards and head off incidents or accidents by putting safety risk management processes in place. The key is being able to identify and understand the risks in your operation, and thats what an SMS provides.

For the rotorcraft sector specifically, there are a variety of outlets for sharing information to make all of us safer.

We have Go Local Workshops, where we take the FAAs Safety Team, or FAAST Team, and industry safety experts directly to local pilots to discuss certain accident scenarios as a starting point to educate pilots on decision-making.

We had to suspend these in-person meetings temporarily due to COVID-19, but the good news is that were close to launching virtual workshops where participants will vote in real time on how pilots should react to challenges during a precarious helicopter flight.

A great way to share your experiences and learn about the best practices of others is to participate in our newly instituted helicopter InfoShare program. InfoShare, if youre not aware, is a program we started in partnership with the airline industry, but its success is leading other sectors, including business aviation, and now rotorcraft, to adopt the same model.

Another avenue for sharing best practices is through the Helicopter Safety Advisory Council, which has developed recommended practices for oil and gas industry rotary-wing operators that are easily adaptable to other helicopter sectors.

I know its clich to say we need to think outside of the box, but for the rotorcraft sector, thats what I really need all of us to do right now. For 15 years now, the helicopter fatal accident rate has remained roughly the same. As I said earlier, weve got to move the ball toward the safety goal linezero fatal accidents.

No accident, and more so, no fatal accident, is acceptable. Thats why we support the U.S. Helicopter Safety team, which has made zero fatal accidents its primary mission. This government and industry group, that includes some of our FAA safety professionals, is taking a scientific approach, urging adoption of safety proposals based on data.

Were also strongly advocating for operators to make voluntary, safety upgrades where beneficial, including helicopter occupant protection features.

Why is that so important? Because blunt force trauma injuries are linked to more than 90 percent of helicopter fatalities.

For new helicopter designs, certification rules require potentially lifesaving protection through crash resistant seats and surrounding structures. But the thousands of helicopters in our legacy fleet arent required to have these features. Why not consider retrofitting these upgrades?

Other retrofit safety options wed like to see, include crash resistant fuel systems. As required in our 2018 Reauthorization, the FAA is requiring new production helicopters built after April 5, 2020, to have these systems out of the box. But we would really like to see these same systems available and operators voluntarily installing them on our legacy helicopter fleet.

I think you can see that we already have many options available to help improve the safety record of the rotorcraft industry, and that were always looking for new ideas.

Thats where you come in. Please use this conference to recalibrate and recommit to helicopter safety, and tell your friends who couldnt join us. Now is the time. We have the critical mass to make real change.

Safety has to be the top priority, our North Star.

But you dont have to take my word for it. Listen in on the next session where youll hear from three people who will remind us why safety is so important. Like many others who have lost family and loved ones in aviation accidents, Dave & Amanda Repsher and Karen Mahany have become catalysts for change in the industry.

When you hear their stories, they will drive home why all of our efforts to increase safety are truly necessary.

When we make the aviation industry as safe as it possibly can be, we save lives in the process, and we make progress, perhaps slowly but steadily and surely, in our quest to achieve zero fatal accidents.

Thank you, and have an excellent conference.