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Recent crashes in San Francisco and Alaska have put aviation safety front and center in the minds of many Americans this week.  Safety is my overriding priority as FAA Administrator, and while we await findings from the investigations in both recent crashes, I am pleased to announce a new rule that will help us maintain our safety record. Despite recent events, we are setting records in aviation safety.  American air travelers expect only the most qualified pilots in the cockpit, and thanks to today's Pilot Qualification Rule, that’s exactly what they’ll get.

The final rule increases the qualification requirements for first officers – commonly called co-pilots -- who fly for U.S. airlines. The rule now mandates that co-pilots hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, requiring them to log 1,500 hours of flying time before becoming a copilot. Previously, they needed only a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 hours of flight time. The rule also requires co-pilots to have an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the airplanes they fly.

Photo of FAA Administrator Michael Huerta shaking hands with John Duncan, Deputy Director of Flight Standards, as Barbara Adams with Flight Standards, looks on after Administrator Huerta signed the Pilot Qualification Rule

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With many families venturing out on the road for summer travel, it's the perfect time to learn more about one of the most important features for avoiding a crash – your tires.

Click on the image to read more of NHTSA's Safety 1N NUM3ERS fact sheet on tires.

Click on this image to link to NHTSA's Safety In Numbers fact sheet on tires

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On July 9, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Urban Mass Transit Act, creating the Urban Mass Transit Administration, which was later renamed the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). 

In signing the Act, President Johnson said, "This is by any standard one of the most profoundly significant domestic measures to be enacted by the Congress during the 1960's."

Photo of a transit bus in 1964 and a 2012 light rail train

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Plebe candidates begin their path to leadership, service

Last week, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy was proud to welcome the Class of 2017 to Kings Point, where 238 plebe candidates took their first steps toward a lifetime of leadership and service.

The new candidates make up one of the most diverse classes in Academy history, and I look forward to seeing the entire class learn, grow and serve their country.

Photo of plebe candidates in their first formation

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To get agricultural and manufacturing products to world markets, producers need to transport them in shipping containers that are standardized for trucks, trains, and ships. Unfortunately, businesses in Montana can't ship or receive containerized international cargo effectively because the state lacks an inland port capable of accepting and delivering intermodal unit trains.

That's where DOT's TIGER program comes in. This competitive grant program was designed to support transportation solutions that also generate economic growth. And today the program continued its track record of doing exactly that with a grant of $10 million for the Port of Northern Montana Multimodal Hub Center to expand the capacity of Montana’s producers.

“The Multimodal Hub Center will provide Montana with an inland port that will help increase trade and create economic opportunities for its residents and businesses,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Photo of a freight train near Shelby, Montana

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FHWA emergency relief funds enable first visitors to Statue Of Liberty since Sandy

I'm happy to write that--eight months after being shut down by Hurricane Sandy--the Statue of Liberty reopened to visitors on the 4th of July.

Last October, the superstorm destroyed Liberty Island's passenger docks, making it impossible to ferry visitors to the island. In February, our Federal Highway Administration provided funding to the National Park Service for repair of the roads, bridges, ferry docks and pedestrian walkways damaged by the storm.

Photo of Deputy Secretary John Porcari observing ongoing construction work on Liberty Island

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On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Federal Aviation Administrator Michael P. Huerta released the following joint statement in response to the crash of Asiana Flight 214:

"The Department of Transportation and the FAA are working closely to assist the NTSB with its investigation. Our thanks go to today's first responders and our thoughts and prayers go out to the passengers and crew of Asiana Flight 214 and their families."

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TIGER-funded project improves transit service for Kansas City area riders

Photo of Downtown-bound bus at Mission Transit Center

Earlier this week, the Federal Transit Administration celebrated the opening of the new Mission Transit Center that will significantly enhance Johnson County Transit service--known as The JO--and connect thousands of daily riders to jobs and other destinations in the Kansas City region. DOT helped fund the project as one part of a $50 million TIGER grant to revitalize key neighborhoods in Kansas City’s urban area and improve access to jobs throughout the region.

For Fast Lane readers, we've got a 2011 video from before construction by the Kansas City area's Mid-America Regional Council showing MARC's plans for the center; follow the jump to compare the plans to images of the newly opened center!

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This newly sworn-in Secretary of Transportation has been thinking a lot about America, mostly about the tremendous opportunities our nation offers. And, with the 4th of July holiday here, I hope you'll have occasion to celebrate not only our more than 200 years of independence, but the promise that the future holds for us and for future generations.

But, if those of us who will be driving this holiday weekend don't give also some thought to road safety, too many Americans won't be able to enjoy that future.

Photo of kids marching in a 4th of July parade

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When those who served us overseas return home and begin seeking career opportunities, we owe them a fair shake. And with the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicating that commercial trucking is a high-growth field--with more than 300,000 additional positions expected by 2020--connecting America's Veterans and their families with career opportunities in trucking makes good sense.

So today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced almost $1 million in grants to six colleges that will help increase enrollment in commercial motor vehicle training programs and provide job placement assistance for veterans and their spouses. That will make it easier for veterans and their spouses to obtain Commercial Driver's Licenses and find jobs.

Photo of veteran with two kids

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