Today marks the start of an event I've looked forward to for some time, the Federal Aviation Administration's 37th Annual Forecast Conference.
For two days, aircraft and airport operators, manufacturers, and others will discuss aviation's role in the global economy. Aviation operations in a global economy present unique challenges, and participants will talk about how they are working to ensure aviation can meet these challenges now and into the future.
I am always happy to meet with people who are concerned about safety, and our aviation leaders have an unwavering dedication to the safety of America's airspace. Together, we've pursued a simple objective: Making sure passengers can get where they’re going--safely, on time, and with the respect they deserve.
One thing that has changed since last year's conference is that Congress has finally passed a long-term FAA bill that keeps our aviation system operating through September 2015. The certainty this legislation allows is a welcome relief to everyone in the aviation industry, and that will lend a very different tone to this year's conference.
We have a significant opportunity right now to build an aviation system that helps us succeed today, one that will be a fine legacy to leave to the next generation of passengers and aviation leaders.
Ultimately, this means less congested tarmacs and skies, shorter trips,and fewer delays, not to mention a more competitive civil aviation sector. These developments will be critical for an industry that supports 10 million jobs and $1.3 trillion of economic activity each year.
Why so critical? Because we anticipate that, while the volume of air traffic will hold steady in the short term, it will double over the next two decades.
That's significant growth, and we need to get ready.
Since the Wright brothers launched their first flight a century ago, America's aviation system has been the envy of the world. And with the kind of growth we're forecasting today, now is not the time to be patching up that system or playing catch-up with the rest of the world.
Now is the time to press forward, developing an American aviation system that's built to last.
With NextGen moving steadily toward widespread operation, new rules that make sure pilots get the rest they need to fly safely, landmark passenger protections, and planning underway to better manage flight diversions, we're working hard at DOT and FAA to make sure that the world's best aviation system remains the world's best.
Fortunately, we have terrific partners in the leaders gathered for the FAA Forecast Conference. We look forward to hearing their good ideas to make our aviation system safer, smarter, and stronger.