Before the Sept. 11 attacks made air safety an international priority, GW was already working with the Federal Aviation Administration to improve airline security.
The FAA will allot $3 million a year to create a GW-led consortium designed to improve safety and security of foreign air carriers operating in the United States.
The FAA announced the program before the attacks on Sept. 11, but budgeted the funding afterward, said professor Vahid Motevalli, director of the Virginia campus’ Aviation Safety and Security Management Certificate Program.
“There is a heightened sense of acute responsibility for making the international aviation system safe and secure after Sept. 11,” Motevalli said. “This program must now play a special role in the accelerated efforts to improve international aviation standards around the world.”
Motevalli will take the helm of the group, which will include students from GW and George Mason University. The program will help foreign nations and airlines meet safety and security standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization through a series of executive-level international summits.
“The program is designed to help high-level foreign officials whose country’s carriers fly into the U.S. meet the standards,” Motevalli said. “It is also designed to help those that are currently not allowed to operate in the U.S.”
Countries participating in the program will work with aviation experts and U.S. government representatives to determine how to implement and maintain aviation safety oversight. The FAA will choose participating countries, and three or four countries will be invited at a time.
Although funding is currently set at $3 million a year for three years, Motevalli said he is optimistic that the funding will continue because of long-term goals of the program.
“It takes a very long time to create international standards,” Motevalli said. “September 11 may help to accelerate our efforts, but this program is very important to international authorities, and it will require more than three years.”
The FAA solicited bids for an aviation safety and security program.
“They began looking for a program to educate foreign governments,” said Bob Ludwig, assistant director of University Relations. “Aviation safety was something the University was already deeply involved in. GW’s expertise was well known by the FAA.”
GW hosted an international conference in 1997 that was formed in response to the 1996 TWA crash off of the coast of New York that killed 230 people. Later in 1997, GW started the Aviation Safety and Security Management Certificate Program.
“This program is a good foundation for the aviation community to build on,” Motevalli said. “Components of the program may be useful for domestic carriers in the future, which is a possible area of expansion.”
The FAA will begin training Motevalli and other consortium members at the Virginia campus this week.