Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Sen. Kaufman, on Senate Floor, Recognizes Ann Azevedo

November 17, 2009

Mr. KAUFMAN. Mr. President, I rise once more to honor an outstanding Federal employee.

Next week, American families will gather around dinner tables in celebration of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a time for coming together. In earlier ages, members of an extended family usually resided in close proximity to one another. Today, however, the typical American family is spread across the country, with members far in distance even if close in spirit.

Americans of all backgrounds and from all walks of life will be travelling long distances to be with their loved ones. It is no wonder that Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

Tens of millions of us will be driving, flying, and taking trains or ferries next week. For some it will be stressful, for others exciting. Most, though, will do it without even realizing how much work goes into keeping American travelers safe.

The Department of Transportation employee whose story I will share today has been instrumental in ensuring the safety of those who travel. But before I tell you about this outstanding public servant, I want to reflect on how important transportation is for America.

From its humble beginnings, ours has been a Nation on the move. In George Washington's day, their mercantile spirit drove our founding generation to dig canals and clear roads across the Appalachians. Steamships and railroads fueled the expansion across the West and helped close the frontier. Air travel in the last century brought every corner of our 50 States ever closer and opened new opportunities for the growth of business and tourism.

This march of progress in transportation technology has not been a smooth ride. When the railroads were new, train wrecks were fairly common. In fact, President-Elect Franklin Pierce was en route to Washington for his inauguration when his train derailed, tragically killing his 11-year-old son.

Travel by ferry or steamship on our rivers and lakes was far from safe in those days. For pioneer families, roads were often impassible during wintertime, and many lost their lives just trying to get to the West. While air travel is the safest form of transportation in our day, it was not always the case.

Making sure that our Nation's ``planes, trains, and automobiles'' are safe remains one of our highest priorities. My home State of Delaware, like every other State--like Montana--depends on a top-notch transportation infrastructure to facilitate economic activity, moving people and goods across markets.

Travel can and should be a safe and fun experience. No one should ever have to worry that the vehicles on our roads, rails, rivers, or in our skies are unsafe. That is where the hardworking men and women of the Department of Transportation excel. They set and enforce regulations upholding the strictest standards in transportation safety.

The great Federal employee I have chosen to recognize this week has been a leader on safety issues at the Transportation Department's Federal Aviation Administration for 12 years.

Ann Azevedo came to the department in 1997 with nearly two decades of experience in the private sector. Working from the FAA facility in Burlington, MA, when she first started at the FAA, Ann served as the risk analysis specialist for the Engine and Propeller Directorate.

In her current role as chief scientific and technical adviser for aircraft safety analysis, Ann focuses on safety, risk management, and analyzing accidents. From the data she gathers, Ann is able to develop solutions to help prevent future incidents.

Regularly representing the FAA at national and international air safety round-tables, Ann has become a respected voice among those engaged in risk management analysis. She helped write the training manuals for turbofan and turboprop aircraft used across the industry, and she continues to teach risk analysis at the FAA Academy.

Ann holds a bachelor's degree in systems planning and management in applied mathematics and a master's of science in mechanical engineering. When she was once asked how she ended up in her chosen career field, Ann cited her love of math and an influential physics teacher in high school.

Ann was awarded the Arthur S. Flemming Award for public service in 2002 for developing safety solutions that resulted in a 64 percent decrease in the commercial aviation fatality rate between 1998 and 2002. She also was honored as Distinguished Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Mechanical Engineering in 1996.

Her work, and that of all her colleagues at the FAA and other Transportation Department agencies, helps ensure that travel in our country continues to be as safe as possible.

Most importantly, they facilitate the smiles of those arriving safely at a journey's end and seeing their loved ones for the first time after weeks, months, or even years apart.

That remains a central element of Thanksgiving, and I hope all Americans will join me in thanking Ann Azevedo and all the men and women of the Department of Transportation for their hard work keeping American travelers safe.

They keep us, whether on the road, on the rails, at sea, or in the sky, moving ever forward.

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