At DOT, when we talk about commercial aviation, our goals are simple. We want to make sure passengers get to their destinations safely, on time, and with the respect they deserve. Our forum on Flight Diversions, held earlier today, is one more step toward that goal.
We have already taken a number of actions to define and protect passenger rights and safety. In April 2010, we put in place a rule that limits the amount of time that passengers can sit in planes stuck on the tarmac – one of our landmark successes. This past summer, we followed up with additional measures, including an extension of our tarmac delay ban to international flights at U.S. airports and domestic flights at small-hub and regional airports.
But, the winter storm of October 29 demonstrated the challenges we still face in managing flight diversions. These challenges involve DOT and the Federal Aviation Administration, but also other stakeholders: airlines; flight crews; dispatchers; and airport security, maintenance and operations personnel. During an unusual event, the actions of one of these groups can improve or impede the effectiveness of others.
At today's forum, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt laid out many of the factors that were in play during the storm on the 29th, but more importantly today’s event was about looking forward. We brought together key sectors of the aviation community to talk about ways that we can share information better and collaborate to avoid a repeat of October 29 as we head into the winter travel season.
Now, I’m very proud of our record of vigilance on behalf of airline passengers’ rights. And I’m proud that America has the best aviation system in the world, bar none. But DOT, FAA, and our industry partners must continue working together to improve that system. And as today's forum demonstrated, we are doing exactly that.