Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell
Washington, DC

Thank you, Margaret.

Ive attended many Aero Club luncheons over the years. So, its a bit surreal to be looking at all of you from this side of the podium.

Ive had a lot of those moments this year. Being back at the agency its humbling. It hit me when I was at Udvar Hazy a few weeks ago. Aviation has such an amazing legacy.

I saw the Blackbird 1960s technology with analog dials and Mach 4 capability.

I saw the Concorde, and the Space Shuttle. And the iconic Boeing 707. Theyre just a few of aviations monuments.

A few of those birds were the brainchild of Kelly Johnson, and there are more than a handful of others who owed a debt of gratitude to the founder of Skunk Works.

He used to have a saying Be quick, be quiet, and be on time. Sounds like an airline mission statement, but Im pretty sure he was talking to his engineers.

And, I think we can all agree. We are right on time for something big.

We find ourselves on the cusp of the third great era of aviation: the age of autonomous and unmanned aircraft.

The jet age was just as consequential. But in many ways, it was simpler. The skies werent as crowded as they are today.

Now, were looking at a future where thousands of airliners still crisscross the globe. But theyre joined by huge commercial rockets and a million drones.

Im not sure we appreciate how much of a seismic change its going to be for all of us.

Government and industry have spent the last few decades honing the system. We carved out our roles, and figured out how to work together.

But for aviation to continueto thrive the system we have today must get better.

We dont want to becaught flat-footed this time around. We want to be ready for the next era of aviation.Especiallysince we almost missed the boatwith the first.

This is what guys like me arent supposed to talk about.The original sin government committed against this industry.

The Wrightsmay have been bicycle repairmen, but they were no strangers to the pen. They wrote letter after letter after letterall sent to an address not far from where were sitting right now.

They told Washington what they had. They explained that theyd conquered the impossible. And Uncle Sam shrugged.

Thank you for your interest, Mr. Wright, but we at the War Department have already invested in our own flight experimentwith Samuel Langley.

That was a solid planright up until the moment Mr. Langleys project crashed into the Potomac.

Conclusion? If the government couldnt solve this problem then it couldnt be solved. Until, of course, it was.

That was an early and important lesson that still applies today: Innovation fuels aviation, and innovation rarely comes from the federal government.

And theres an important corollary to that lesson: Bureaucrats shouldnt tell innovators what they cant do. See? Its right there…page 27, section 3, paragraph 1, subpart b in the footnote.

Weve had too many of those exchanges in the past. But, thats changing. And thats thanks, in part, to a lot of whats in a 400 page piece of legislation.

Weve got a new five-year authorization the longest the FAA has had in more than 35 years. It doesnt have everything we asked for. No bill ever does. But its full of a lot of good things.

We have a mandate to accelerate our momentum on unmanned aircraft. It clears the way to remote identification standards. It supports us moving forward on long-awaited rules for drone operations over people and at night.

And we will be coordinating closely with our federal law enforcement partners in the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice who have new authority to counter the malicious use of UAS.

Congress didnt stop there. The new law authorizes an increase in commercial space funding to the tune of 236 percent over the next five years. Well also be creating an Office of Spaceports.

It even sets us up for the return of supersonic aircraft. Thats something most of us thought wed never see again. And those aircraft advancements will be aided by a reformed certification system that helps manufacturers press ideas into metal faster.

Theres plenty more where that comes from. In fact, theres so much more…were using a 30-page spreadsheet to track hundreds of deliverables were responsible for over the next five years.

But we still want more legislatively. We need more. We need funding reform.

This isnt about more money. We collect plenty to keep the system running. What we need is stability and predictability. It would also be nice to have the flexibility to spend that money how and where and when we need to.

That may be asking a lot, but something has to give. Were in our 47th continuing resolution in the last 11 years.

The FAA hasnt started a fiscal year with a full appropriation since 1997. Think about that for a second. We support two-thirds of the worlds airspace nearly a billion passengers and 5 percent of the GDP.

Thats your bottom line. Thats Americas bottom line. And its just no way to run the largest, most complex air navigation system in the world.

President Trump gets that. Hes a businessman. And hes bringing those same principles to this Administration. He told us to get rid of rules that have outlived their usefulness.

You dont have to tell us twice. Under Secretary Chaos leadership, DOT leads the federal government in cutting outdated, burdensome and unnecessary regulations. And the FAA has been the largest contributor to the Departments success in this area.

Were answering the Presidents call to cut two regulations for every new one. At the same time, were busy creating a new and improved regulatory framework for drones and commercial space transportation.

This year alone, weve taken deregulatory actions that should save $65 million annually.

But this isnt just about saving dollars. Its about saving time. About making it easier for people to operate in our system.

These are our commercial space launch and reentry licensing regs today.

Soon, theyll look like this.

Weve got momentum on this, and believe me when I tell you, were just getting started.

These streamlining efforts go well beyond rulemaking. Were using technology to clear out many of the pain points in our system. The delays the inefficiencies the bottlenecks.

The Northeast Corridor brings the system to its knees. Its a petri dish for delays due to weather, construction and volume. About a third of all delays in the system originate in the Northeast Corridor.

So I want you to know we know how important this artery is to our nation and what happens when its clogged. Thats why were adding Performance Based Navigation procedures, and prioritizing initial trajectory-based operations that will reduce congestion in the region.

But were not just about this side of the country. Were rolling out technologies and procedures all across the NAS with more on the way.

Were standing up Data Comm En Route Services in Memphis, Indianapolis and Kansas City that should be operational before the end of this year.

The ADS-B mandate is about fourteen months from taking effect. We dont want you to find yourself on the wrong side of that, stuck in the hangar on New Years. We re-launched the incentive program, and more of you are getting equipped every day.

Were also gearing up for the Terminal Flight Data Manager, which will improve controllers situational awareness. Well begin rolling out those capabilities in 2020.

Of course, individual programs have deadlines, but overall system improvement doesnt. We dont have a hard stop on safety or efficiency.

Thats what these things are doing in the cockpit and on the ground and in the tower. The systems not slowing down, so we have to do our best to keep up.

The fact is, if the FAA is going to achieve its mission, safety and innovation cant be at odds. I truly believe that innovation is the future of safety.

Government shouldnt be a stop signal for great ideas. It should be a springboard. Moving map displays. Remote towers. Artificial intelligence. Theyre game-changers. And we need to support them.

When Secretary Chao launched the UAS Integration Pilot Program, she was all in. She was talking about drones, but that attitude applies to everything were doing.

The President, the Vice President, and the Secretary have given us the green light to think outside the box. The stars dont always line up like that. And we need to take advantage. I think we already are but we can do more.

I want to create an innovation incubator inside the FAA. Itll separate out early innovation from real-time operations, so that good ideas dont die on the vine.

Well give people the freedom to tackle tough questions, and the time to figure out how a new technology can be incorporated into the NAS.

If it works, were off to the races. If not, we havent wasted much time.

Well measure success by our ability to disrupt the status quo and break down obstacles so that new ideas can be transformed into concrete actions without disturbing current operations.

And let me just say this isnt just about being a better service provider and regulator. Its about maintaining our position as a global leader.

I think we take this for granted sometimes. In the international community, we used to say, Speak softly and carry a big market share.

We cant do that anymore, because times have changed. The rest of the world is catching up.

Complacency will kill us. Especially if you consider the sheer volume of innovative ideas coming at our agency on an almost daily basis.

Next year, go to InterDrone or the Consumer Electronics Show. Ill be there. I dont just want to see what theyre doingI need to see it. Because theyre figuring out solutions to challenges we havent even thought of yet.

We need to support these innovatorslet them know theyve got a seat at our table. We can’t afford to alienate them.

Because, the fact is were staring down a workforce crisis. I know theres been some debate about this. But, while we discuss the why, the what is moving right along. If you look at the facts look at the numbers they paint a clear picture.

The number of pilots holding active airmen certificates has decreased by nearly 30% since the 80s. Maintenance isnt exempt, either. Our technical workforce is aging at the same time our pipeline is running dry.

Were competing with Silicon Valley for talent. And were losing. If we dont turn this around, and I mean soon, were going to have empty flight decks. Not unmanned empty.

Thats why Secretary Chao, Air Force Secretary Wilson and I held an aviation workforce summit a few months ago.

We brought together stakeholders from government, industry, and academia to start talking about the pipelines, pathways, and partnerships we need to get young people excited about careers in aviation again.

Because thats gotta be part of the solution. We all have to roll up our sleeves if this is going to work. Each of us must take a personal and direct role in spreading the aviation bug. I caught it in elementary school.

Its a little ironic that aviation has a mojo crisis right now. I mean what kid wouldnt want to pilot a drone, or a space craft or your own jet pack?

This workforce dilemma were going to solve it. Like we do everything else with collaboration, calls to action, or just plain elbow grease.

But mark my words: there is a solution, and we will find it. Because thats what we do. Look at our monuments.

When Im at Udvar Hazy…I love going to Udvar-Hazy…I see our past. But I also think about our future.

Where are the next Wright Brothers? Would we even recognize them if they knocked on our door? Or worse…if they knocked, would we know to answer? The War Department didnt.

Wheres our next Kelly Johnson? We cant presume hes in this room having lunch with us. He, or she, might be working a booth at ComicCon. Or tooling away in a garage with the next Steve Wozniak.

Weve got to stop and think and ask the question, what are the monuments this next generation is going to build?

I dont know. But Im excited to find out.

Be quick: Respond to innovation.

Be quiet: Keep your head down and do the work, unhindered by unnecessary rules.

Be on time: Recognize this moment were in and what it requires of us.

This is a new and exciting erafor new entrants, for innovation, for aviation. Lets make it memorable.

Thank you.