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1999 Speeches
Phil Condit portrait

Phil Condit

The Boeing Company

"Working Together in the 21st Century: A Manufacturer's Perspective"

As delivered to the "Aviation in the 21st Century"

Beyond Open Skies Ministerial

Chicago, Illinois

December 07, 1999

I am delighted to be able to address you this morning as one who has a strong commitment to aviation. And as Secretary of Transportation (Rodney) Slater has said, you also have a considerable stake.

First, I want to thank Secretary Slater for taking the initiative to hold this Ministerial to look forward to aviation in the 21st century. I strongly support developing a common vision for the future of aviation and working together to create the path that will get us there. I believe this is critical to our future.

I believe we are now at a very important time in history. We are moving from a regulated, developing, and somewhat patchwork system to a deregulated, mature, open integrated system. If we work together successfully, we can build an air transportation system that will serve international commerce and contribute substantially to global prosperity and growth.

What are the issues that must be addressed if we are to achieve an integrated, productive global aviation system?

I believe that there are four:

First, is a basic global aviation policy, which allows us to move from a regulated, bilateral system to an open multilateral system as you discussed yesterday and will continue to discuss today.

Second is an airport and air traffic management, or ATM, system that can accommodate future growth of air transportation.

Third are safety improvements that are required to build public confidence in the system.

Fourth, and final, are environmental issues, which must be addressed if the system is to expand and reach its full potential.

I would like to take just a few minutes and touch on each of these briefly.

First, a basic global aviation policy

As all of you know well, air transport was built around a set of bilateral agreements. I believe it's time to move to a rules-based open system.

This is, in my opinion, a huge task. Experience with the deregulation of many industries indicates that this will be very disruptive. The move to a market-based system means that the efficient carriers will prosper while the inefficient carriers will not. Clearly this means that there must be a period of transition since airlines around the world are in different places. No carrier will want to give up the advantages that it has in the current system, and every carrier will want to shed its disadvantages.

Since the goal is a rules-based system with level playing field competition, development of the rules must occur in an international arena, and that is why your conference is so important. And that is why it is important that we have a rules-based system.

It will not always be easy. There will be debates over the rules and their application. Jobs will be created in one sector and lost in another because of the change. But we have even more to lose if aviation is either artificially limited or not based on sound rules.

Second, airports and air traffic management (ATM).

Let's look at just a few quick numbers you know well.

It took 45 years to reach a world fleet of 13,000 jets. That number should double in the next 16 years. In the 12 years from 1970 to 1982, the number of passengers carried by airlines around the world doubled to 750 million. Sixteen years later, in 1998, that number doubled again to over 1.5 billion passengers...more than the population of China. And by 2016, when The Boeing Company will be 100 years old, traffic will double again to 3 billion. Both airports and the air traffic management system must contend with significant fleet and passenger growth in the years ahead.

That challenge brings enormous opportunity as well.

Today's ATM system was built on an air route system that began with beacons on hilltops, moved to radio aids, and on to VOR/DME (very high frequency omni-directional range distance measuring equipment). Today, our technology can provide a global satellite navigation system such as GPS (global positioning system) and provide a worldwide ATM system.

To do this, several things are required. First an absolutely dependable civil GPS signal is required. Individual nations will need to come together and give up national ATM and navigation in favor of an integrated global system.

But the rewards, I believe, are huge. Every airplane in the system can know exactly where it is located and know the location of every other airplane. Every airport will have every runway effectively equipped with precision approach since there will be a universal satellite system rather than individual runway guidance systems. Every airport system could increase capacity without additional runways.

Now, having said that, I still believe it is important to build new runways and new airports as well. Air transportation is rapidly becoming key to commerce. Cities with great air access will prosper; those without will fall behind.

Third, safety.

Safety must be addressed if the system is to grow. A doubling of operations without a significant decrease in accident rate is completely unacceptable.

Fortunately, I believe that some technology that will benefit system capacity can also dramatically impact safety. A satellite-based system can address the most critical safety issue - controlled flight into terrain (CFIT). The majority of fatal accidents worldwide result from CFIT. A system with accurate GPS positioning and a digital terrain database can have a huge impact. I believe this can eliminate fundamental causes of accidents.

In addition, many accidents occur on approach to runways, which are not instrument landing system (ILS) equipped. Again, a satellite-based system allows every runway to be a precision-guided runway. Improvements in human factors, sensor technology, and communication technology all, I believe, could make an order-of-magnitude improvement in safety by the time that air traffic doubles.

Fourth, and final, environmental issues.

Clearly it is not enough to note that the emissions from aircraft are small compared with emissions from automobiles. It is not enough to point to the reductions that we have made in the noise footprint. We must actively continue to address environmental issues or they will limit growth.

I believe that any standard we adopt for noise or emissions must be an international standard. It must be done globally rather than piecemeal, country by country. With common standards, the industry can address common solutions, which will give the most economic results.

Now let me conclude by saying that I am deeply optimistic about the future of global air transportation. I do not see limits that cannot be addressed if we work together. I do not pretend that this will be easy. Moving to a rules-based, global aviation system will cause dislocations but the resulting system will be significantly more efficient, with better service for the public. A global ATM system not only offers more capacity, but also dramatically increases safety. Global standards are the most effective way to address all aircraft issues regardless of whether they are related to safety, noise or emissions.

It is worth the effort to work through these issues to have a better, safer, cleaner, quieter global air transportation system for the 21st century. This Ministerial is the right place to start turning the dream of "Beyond Open Skies" into a reality.

Thank you for inviting me today.