I’d especially like to congratulate COCESNA and IATA on their new agreement to share safety data, as well as Canada on its accession to the Multiregional Civil Aviation Assistance Program.
I’m happy we were all still able to come together for this meeting. I was starting to think Mother Nature wouldn't let it move forward as planned.
There's no question that it's been a challenging few weeks for our region.
Harvey… Irma… Jose… Katia… and now Maria.
The 2017 hurricane season has already devastated too many of our nations.
And as if that wasn't enough, our friends in Mexico were struck by two deadly earthquakes as well.
Some of our attendees here today have family in Mexico City, where the extent of this week’s quake is still being determined. Please know all of our thoughts are with you during this trying time.
These moments of tragedy bind us together.
We grieve for the lives lost. We comfort the displaced. And we vow to rebuild.
They also serve as a reminder of how closely our fates are tied together.
We’re neighbors. What happens to one of us affects all of us.
We no doubt have weeks and months of recovery work ahead of us.
The FAA is continuing to support efforts to get all Florida airports – including those in the Keys – back to full operations.
And we airlifted a mobile air traffic control tower from Boise, Idaho to St. Thomas last week to manage relief flights to and from the island.
But the United States is also committed to doing its part to help the region as a whole recover.
In response to a request from the Netherlands, the FAA sent an airports safety inspector to St. Martin to help assess the readiness of the airfield for non-military relief flights.
The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, served as a base of operations for evacuations and relief efforts to areas in the Caribbean affected by the hurricanes last week.
And as Hurricane Maria continues on its path, we stand ready to assist once more.
This isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s a necessary thing to do.
Aviation is a lifeline, particularly in times of natural disaster.
It can evacuate people to safety, and bring in desperately needed food, water, and medical supplies.
We’re also beginning to see the role emerging aviation technologies can play.
The FAA has issued hundreds of unmanned aircraft authorizations to aid in hurricane response efforts.
Drones are being used to quickly and safely assess damage to homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure. And they’re helping us target and prioritize our recovery activities.
We’re learning a lot from these operations that will no doubt aid the FAA’s efforts to further integrate drones into our national airspace.
And hopefully, we’ll be able to share some of those lessons learned with all of you at a future meeting.
That’s the value of forums like this. They give us an opportunity to come together, share ideas, and find new ways to work together toward our common goals.
But they’re even more important in times like this – when we can reaffirm our partnerships, and ask for and receive assistance when it’s needed.
Thank you again for joining us this week. It’s been an honor for the United States to host this event.
And since my time as FAA Administrator is drawing to a close, let me say what a privilege it’s been to work with all of you over the years.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together.