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2002 Speeches

Nicole W. Piasecki

VP - Marketing and Business Strategy

Boeing Commercial Airplanes

"Working Together - a 360 Degree Solution "

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

meeting on "Air Travel Six Months after 9/11: Working Toward Recovery"

Washington, D.C.

March 26, 2002

On behalf of The Boeing Company and our event co-sponsor -- the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- I would like to welcome all of you to this meeting on "Air Travel Six Months after 9/11: Working Toward Recovery". We are delighted and honored to have so many recognized leaders from across industry, government and academia present today. And we look forward, with your participation, to an outstanding meeting.

Let us be clear about our goal today
We're here together because we share a common goal - the goal…of a global air transportation system that provides safe, secure, efficient and affordable transportation of people, goods, and information. I know we share a vision of a system that retains the freedom of flight for all people around the world in each of these dimensions. Basically, we're here because we want to ensure an improved quality of life and mobility for our children and our children's children.

The events of September 11 last year have propelled us to urgently work toward achieving security objectives that meet an entirely different level of threat. Each of us in this room has a different role to play in this global system, and as stakeholders, each of us has an invested interest in its continued viability.

Our hope is that at the end of our meeting today, everyone here will make a commitment to work in a spirit of collaboration to support the continued development of and investment in the global air system, people and infrastructure.

Systemic Approach Needed
In spite of the sensationalism of headlines that we see from time to time -- the government's aggressive assessment of the security performance of the system is exactly what we need. Now more than ever, we need effective leadership. We need leadership that establishes an openness and exchange of spectacular ideas and that allows for provocative measures of progress and efficacy. We need to be challenging existing paradigms and assumptions. We need to look at the entire system, as a system, challenging its effectiveness in enabling our shared vision. We cannot get caught in the trap of spending valuable resources and precious time on a myriad of single point, less-than-effective, costly, stand-alone solutions.

It has been said, "The status quo is the only solution that cannot be vetoed." However, if the status quo of our nation's air transportation system is one of growing delays, reduced choices, serious security concerns, and various independent objectives, then it will be an operational paradigm that does not make effective use of new technology or new operational philosophies that speak to security and efficiency. If this is the case, then the status quo is the only solution that MUST be vetoed.

A fact that we all know is that even prior to the terrorist attacks last Fall, our industry faced growing system capacity constraints that could not keep pace with growing demand. Nor could it adequately respond to unplanned disruptions such as severe weather. Don't we all remember the unprecedented numbers of flight delays and cancellations over the past few years? How recently it was that these capacity constraints caused the industry a problem estimated to cost billions of dollars. And, our analysis showed the situation would only worsen.

While the safe and rapid shutdown of the entire national airspace system on September 11, 2001 and subsequent airport security shutdowns since then are a remarkable feat and a tribute to aviation safety personnel everywhere, the goal is to prevent penetration of threats in the system. We cannot afford this status quo. Today we must implore each other to make a commitment to collectively work together to make every effort to invest in developing new systems, technologies, well-trained, capable people and enhanced procedures to prevent future shutdowns.

There is no question that the challenges facing our industry are daunting. It is a leadership, policy and systems integration challenge. We at Boeing are phenomenal at large complex integration and in investing in new applied technologies. So, this is where we will focus our leadership. Others here today are experts at effective policy-making, systems analyzers, people trainers and so on.

The technologies for accomplishing our goals are largely available today. In fact, in the weeks and months following the government's call for suggestions on how to improve aviation security, according to the Wall Street Journal, there were more than 14,000 proposals submitted for evaluation. Boeing alone received more than 4,000 suggestions from employees and suppliers.

But neither technology, nor large scale systems integration alone, will sufficiently address the problem in front of us.

The real challenge will be how to put aside our individual approaches and work toward our shared goal of an integrated security system that is effective, convenient and affordable. We must communicate. And collaborate.

If the system is not effective, it will not make air travel more secure. And as such, it will not restore the public's confidence to travel. The system must be able to demonstrate that it is effectively reducing our vulnerability to attack.

Similarly, if the system is not convenient for the people who want to travel -- if it results in uncertain waiting and delay, if it is perceived to unreasonably invade our privacy or subject us to demeaning or humiliating scrutiny -- the result will be that people will be reluctant to fly.

By the same token, if the system is not affordable -- to airports, to airlines, to the government, and ultimately to passengers -- aviation industry will suffer and our mobility will be threatened.

Our industry, like most, is one that relies on effective partnerships. And no partnership is more critical to our collective success than the partnership between industry, government and academia to make the skies even safer.

360 degrees of concern
There are a lot of players in this system - governments, airlines, manufacturers, employees of the system and passengers - and they all have a set of legitimate concerns. They are also looking to us for immediate and durable solutions.

The litany of issues is long, but easily summarized by three questions from the passenger:

For the billion or so worldwide customers that fly the system every year, these are real questions, which we can only answer together. People have choices. For some who used to fly to weekend destinations, they are now driving. For others who used to fly to business meetings, some corporations are now sponsoring video-conference meetings. What we need as an industry is to keep the necessary option of flying- one that is a safe, efficient and affordable choice for them. At Boeing, we created an advertising campaign rallying around the belief that "Freedom is Being There". Being there to us…means flying there.

We hope that as a result of today's meeting, we all come away with a better common understanding of the issues and opportunities facing our industry. And through this understanding -- and working with a sense of urgency --- we adopt, as we like to say at Boeing, a find-a-way attitude that sets aside differences, seeks compromises, looks for creative solutions, and works together to accelerate changes to further improve the industry….before events overcome us. Let's be relevant and provide the right leadership to make a positive historical difference.

After all, our ultimate customer, the passenger, is waiting for us to do so.