Thank you for joining us on the occasion of this historic signing. First, I would like to thank the important leaders with me, Secretary General Raymond Benjamin, Vice President Siim Kallas and Secretary Ray LaHood. You deserve a lot of credit for taking such an important and bold step to improve global aviation safety.

As many of you know, I start almost every speech by talking about safety - the industry’s number one priority. There is no issue more important to me and our members. We have worked tirelessly to improve our safety record and the numbers tell the story. In 1945, a year after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was formed, there were 9 million passengers and 247 fatalities. In 2009, 2.3 billion flew with 685 fatalities. Even in a decade during which airlines lost $50 billion, we still managed to improve our safety record. But every fatality is a human tragedy and reminds us that we must do better. Today, IATA, along with ICAO, the US Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Commission of the European Union (EC) are taking a historic and important step to raise the bar on safety.

When it comes to safety, there is no room for secrets and silos. There is no competition when it comes to protecting our passengers. Safety is a constant challenge and information is the key to driving improvements. Traditionally we have cooperated in investigating accidents and sharing information to avoid similar occurrences. Analyzing information from millions of safe flights will expand this view and help us to identify trends and potential threats.

In December 2009, IATA launched the Global Safety Information Center to collect IATA’s safety information in one location for easy analysis. This program is growing every day.

With today’s signing, we are combining forces with our government partners to build the Global Safety Information Exchange. For this important project, IATA is proud to contribute de-identified information from the 345 airlines that have completed IOSA to date. This is a major step forward, taking our traditional partnership to a new level and to make a safe industry even safer.