U.S.-China Aviation Summit - Welcoming Remarks
The Honorable Leocadia I. Zak, Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency
September 26, 2011 - Good morning and welcome to the 2011 U.S.-China Aviation Summit. It is wonderful to see such a large turnout and so many familiar faces. On behalf of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the U.S.-China Aviation Cooperation Program, and all of our sponsors, thank you for coming. This event would not be possible without the cooperation and assistance of our many partners, especially the talented and professional members of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
I would like to begin by welcoming our distinguished Chinese delegation, led by Deputy Administrator Xia of the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Deputy Administrator Xia has been an invaluable partner to USTDA and we are grateful for his leadership within the CAAC. I also wish to recognize State Air Traffic Control Commission Deputy Director Wang and the President of Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Jin.
The distinguished delegation here today of almost 100 people represents not only the Chinese government aviation industry, but also the top leaders of the world's fastest growing airlines, airports and aviation sector companies. We are extremely grateful for their contributions to the Summit, and honored that they have given us so much of their time.
The delegation has been in the United States for a week now, on site visits organized by USTDA in Memphis, Chicago, Louisville, and the Washington, D.C. area to visit U.S. companies and aviation authorities. Delegates also attended the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Summit in Connecticut last week to learn more about general aviation advances in the United States. Thank you again for your commitment and dedication to our partnership.
We are also joined this morning by many members of the U.S. Government, including Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, Administrator Babbitt of the Federal Aviation Administration, and U.S. Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs Kurland. Later in the day we also will hear from Deputy Secretary of Transportation Porcari and Administrator John Pistole of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. The level and extent of U.S. government participation in this Summit is a testament to the immense value of the U.S.-China relationship, and the great importance which the United States places on it.
Finally, I would like to extend a special welcome to the sixth class of students from the Executive Management Development Training program, or EMDT. The EMDT program is a hallmark of the U.S.-China Aviation Cooperation Program. These executives are rising stars in their fields, and we are delighted to have them participating in the program. We are pleased that this year's training program coincides with the timing of the Summit and that we will have the opportunity to hear EMDT Class Leader Luo speak during Tuesday's luncheon.
This year, 2011, marks one decade of USTDA work in China. Today, with those years of work and partnership behind us and many more to look forward to, I would like to take some time to reflect on our progress. We all should be very proud of the many accomplishments which we have achieved together over the last 10 years.
In 2001, I was a member of the team that went to China with the objective of re-launching USTDA's program there. At the time, we knew that transportation would be an area of mutual benefit and thus an area of focus. But what we did not know was how extraordinary the growth in aviation would be over the next ten years -- and what an important role the partnerships among the Chinese and U.S. governments, the Chinese private sector, and the U.S. private sector would play in that growth.
When USTDA re-launched its program in China, the U.S. private sector was already becoming involved in the Chinese aviation market. U.S. businesses saw then what we now know to be true: The Chinese market held immense potential, but there was work to be done to realize that potential. Early on, the CAAC made improving their safety record, then a major challenge, a top priority. Together the CAAC and U.S. industry approached USTDA for support.
What we could not have anticipated at the time was what a significant year 2001 would be for the aviation safety industry. After the events of 9/11, when the world turned its attention to air travel safety, USTDA provided one of its first grants in China to support a public-private partnership to train aviation safety officials.
As our investments in the Chinese aviation industry grew, the relationship between China and the U.S. continued to strengthen. In 2004, to further the growing interest on both sides, the U.S.-China Aviation Cooperation Program was launched.
Under the ACP we saw that early aviation safety training project grow into today's Civil Aviation Safety Academy of China. I had the opportunity to visit the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China earlier this year where I witnessed firsthand the exceptional quality of the instructors and students. I am pleased that we are joined today by CAMIC President Sun.
In addition to the initial training programs, USTDA's investments under the ACP, along with the support of our fifty U.S. private sector members, have produced many other successful projects. Last year, we supported a study to develop alternative runway schemes for Beijing’s second airport, a priority for the CAAC. We also worked together to promote energy conservation within the sector, another CAAC priority. In support of that objective, among other activities, we brought a reverse trade mission of Chinese airport planners to the United States to witness our best practices for the development of sustainable airports.
Together we have seen China's successful implementation of state-of-the-art aviation systems, and China now has a safety record that is one of the best in the world. The sector has so expanded that today over 8,000 people travel between the United States and China each day, and that figure is growing.
Of course, there is still more to be done, and that is why we are here today. The goal of this Summit is to continue to forge the partnerships between the leaders of China's aviation sector and U.S. providers of technology, services, and goods. We continue to work together to support the rapid growth of China's aviation sector while helping U.S. companies develop valuable, export-creating trade relationships.
The aviation industry has seen remarkable gains in China, and that growth will only accelerate. By way of example, as of last year, the Chinese airline fleet size was just under 1600 aircraft. By 2015, that number is expected to grow 75% - 75% - to more than 2700 aircraft – an addition of a new aircraft every two days.
At this rate of growth, absent infrastructure expansion and air space management, the Chinese air traveler could see increased flight delays, crowding, and rising costs, all of which CAAC is committed to reducing.
Over the past several decades, the United States has developed the knowledge and infrastructure capable of transporting up to two million passengers per day. This is largely due to two factors: advances in technology and air space management. We have with us today many U.S. companies that are on the cutting edge of aircraft manufacturing, environmental technology breakthroughs, and advanced avionic development.
I believe that over the next two days we have a fantastic opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other, and that by continuing our exceptionally successful partnership, we will achieve great progress in the coming decade.
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