Home / USTDA Newsroom / Director Speeches / 2016 / Opening Remarks 2016 Us China Aviation Summit
Leocadia I. Zak, Director, USTDA
Washington, D.C.

June 21, 2016 — Good morning and thank you, Carl, for that kind introduction.  On behalf of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the U.S.-China Aviation Cooperation Program, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2016 U.S.-China Aviation Summit.

I want to begin this morning by recognizing our incredible co-hosts from CAAC and the FAA.  Deputy Administrator Wang, we are honored to welcome you and your distinguished delegation.  Thank you for being such an excellent friend to USTDA.  

Administrator Huerta, I want to thank you for co-hosting this event. And, I also want to thank you and your team for all that you have done to make the ACP a success. The FAA has always been a wonderful partner to USTDA.

As you can see around you, we also have strong participation from U.S. industry.  We are grateful for the many contributions that our sponsors and supporting organizations have made to this event.  In particular, I want to thank our other ACP co-chair, John Bruns, and his predecessor, Ian Thomas, for their efforts on behalf of the ACP.  The ACP is a success because of the many contributions by its private sector members.  

Since we all established the ACP thirteen years ago, our partnership has evolved significantly.  We have worked together to meet new challenges and to set ambitious goals.  However, one thing that has remained constant is our commitment to collaboration.  

As we just saw in the video, the ACP has multiple meanings:  It means achievement.  It means connections.  And it means people. 

Let’s take a moment to celebrate our achievements.  We could probably spend the next two days discussing the many things we have accomplished together.  But I’d like to focus on just one.  Two weeks ago, I was in Beijing for the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.  And I have to tell you, I was just beaming when I heard several people highlight general aviation as a success.  However, I really want to congratulate the ACP members, for they are the ones who lead these efforts.

As many of you know, we have been working with our Chinese partners to expand general aviation in China.  We are focused on opening the market to emergency response aircraft, seaplanes and helicopters.  One workshop alone drew nearly two hundred participants.  Clearly, there is tremendous interest in this promising field. 

We know from the U.S. experience how difficult opening your skies to general aviation can be.  It is amazing how much China has achieved in this area in such a short period of time.  In fact, CAAC has announced plans to build sixteen hundred – yes, sixteen hundred – new GA airports over the next fifteen years.  I believe that the connections between our Chinese partners and U.S. companies will be instrumental in meeting this impressive target.

Indeed, connections are another hallmark of the ACP.  This partnership is about building relationships and forging friendships that lay the foundation for long-term growth – in both of our countries.  These connections allow us to make progress toward our mutual goals. 

One of those goals, and a top priority for CAAC, is reducing flight delays.  That is why, at last year’s ACP Standing Committee Meeting, we decided to launch a flight delay management program.  This pilot project is determining how best to expand capacity at Xian International Airport.  It will then recommend similar improvements at airports across China.  

While I was in Beijing, I learned that the project has already helped United Airlines create a more direct flight path between our countries.  This is an outstanding development, but I know that there will be more.  The project’s stakeholders are also identifying technologies that can address flight delays. 

Like most ACP activities, the Xian project connects experts from the U.S. and China, from government and industry.  But what is different about this project is that it’s also doing it at all levels of government:  local, regional and national.  We strongly believe that these connections will be critical to the project’s continued success.  And we believe that this level of connection – of convening all stakeholders at all levels – should become the standard for the ACP moving forward.

When we bring the right people together, we succeed.  ACP members have been investing in people since the very beginning.  The video introduced you all to graduates of the ACP’s premiere training programs – ATMET and EMDT.  When I was in Beijing, one of them sought me out.  He introduced himself to me as an “EMDT Six.”  He pointed to the training as a pivotal time in his career.  And he told me that he’s still using what he learned to advance CAAC’s goals. 

Together, these programs have trained thirteen hundred leaders like the one I met, like the ones you saw in the video.  They have supported a safer, more efficient aviation system.  Most importantly, they have benefitted the people that our airlines serve.  U.S. and Chinese passenger traffic has grown significantly since the launch of the ACP.  And this growth is only expected to continue.  By 2034, together, our aviation markets will serve nearly two and a half billion people.

That is why our investments in human capital are so important.  We must continue to ensure that our passengers are able to travel safely and efficiently. 

But, we must also consider how our work affects the non-flying public.  Once again, ACP members are thinking ahead of everyone else.  For several years now, they have been focused on protecting our environment and our people.  

We have been working together to identify ways we can reduce emissions and adopt greener technologies.  This work reflects what I know to be true about the ACP:  that it doesn’t just lead in aviation, it leads in other areas as well.  And that’s because its number one focus – its chief concern, and its top priority – is people.  We must keep these people in mind over the next couple of days as we plan for the future together.  Our work is important because it affects everyone.

In closing, I want to thank all of you.  As a frequent flyer myself, I am incredibly grateful for your dedication and commitment to aviation.  You make it possible for a girl who grew up in Boston to visit Beijing.  For a boy from Tianjin to be here in Washington.  You connect us.  You keep us safe.  You allow us to travel, to explore, to dream about the future.

 And because of you, that future will be very bright indeed.   Thank you.  Xie xie.