This morning, the DOT-organized Future of Aviation Advisory Committee hits the runway at full-throttle.
This 19-member panel of experienced aviation industry professionals has no small mission: to map a course that ensures the industry remains vital, competitive, sustainable, and--above all--safe.
Because industry professionals themselves nominated the best and brightest from a true cross-section of the aviation community--airlines, transportation unions, manufacturing, general aviation, academia, finance, and consumer groups--I have high expectations for the committee's success.
Another factor that bodes well is that the five core issues of the committee's charge were also chosen as aviation's top challenges by seasoned industry experts:
- Ensuring aviation safety
- Ensuring a world-class aviation workforce
- Balancing the industry's competitiveness and viability
- Securing stable funding for aviation systems
- Addressing environmental challenges and solutions
Now, these are not Ray LaHood's issues; they are not President Obama's issues; they are not the FAA's issues. These are the aviation community's issues, the ones the experts know must be taken head-on if we're going to nourish a safe, competitive, and sustainable 21st century aviation industry.
And one more factor that promises success is the powerful toolkit we've made available to the committee:
- Federal rulemaking
- Proposing legislation to Congress
- Recommending private industry compliance measures
There's no point in sugar-coating it; the aviation industry is at a very critical crossroads, facing a range of complex economic, environmental, and technological challenges.
Facing those challenges, this committee will discuss, and this committee will deliberate. But, make no mistake, I have every confidence that--in the end--the Future of Aviation Advisory Committee that takes off today will act.