November 6, 2019
Remarks by AIT Director W. Brent Christensen at the International Air Safety Summit Gala Dinner
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Minister Lin, Chairman Wang, President Nolan, distinguished guests and friends. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you this evening.
First of all, allow me to congratulate the Flight Safety Foundation on its 72nd Annual International Air Safety Summit. The Flight Safety Foundation has an impressive record of achievement in its ongoing effort to improve global aviation safety, and I am honored to be a part of this annual summit. I would also like to commend Taiwan for being such an exemplary host of this important event.
As a longtime observer of Taiwan, I have seen Taiwan become a role model for the international community in many ways. Taiwan is a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that Taiwan is hosting this important meeting on international aviation safety issues. The United States and Taiwan have close cooperation in the areas of aviation and transportation safety. Taiwan’s civil aviation authority has consistently maintained the highest safety standards and remains a critical partner for the United States in ensuring airline safety for travelers in the region.
Our trust in Taiwan’s capabilities and professionalism is reflected by the fact that Taiwan is a member of two of our “Trusted Traveler” programs—Global Entry and the Visa Waiver Program.
Taiwan has clearly demonstrated its willingness to share its expertise with the global community, including through organizations such as the ICAO, and it has much to offer. Unfortunately, because of PRC pressure, Taiwan is excluded from participation in ICAO activities and has no access to ICAO’s secure portal, which means that it does not receive timely notifications of important safety and security findings.
ICAO’s stated goal is to achieve a “seamless sky,” where safety standards and counterterrorism measures can be shared with everyone ensuring that the same standards apply worldwide. As Minister Lin pointed out yesterday, the Taoyuan International Airport served 46.5 million passengers in 2018 and is ranked 11th in terms of global passengers and fifth in cargo volumes – a significant percentage of overall world aviation activity. Which means Taiwan’s exclusion from ICAO not only violates the spirit of ICAO but also defies common sense.
Which is why this summit is so valuable. As aviation safety experts, you all understand the importance of international exchanges such as this one to promote our shared objective of safe skies.
My sincerest gratitude to all of you for the work that you do to ensure we are all protected to the fullest extent possible whenever and wherever we fly.
My congratulations once again to Taiwan and the Flight Safety Foundation on this very successful summit.