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03.22.17 - Peggy Gilligan Distinguished Service Award Event

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Peggy Gilligan Distinguished Service Award Event
Washington, D.C.
March 22, 2017

Thank you.  

This is one of the best parts of the job as Secretary of Transportation!

I am so pleased to present the Distinguished Service Award to Peggy Gilligan, Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety with the FAA.

When I was Deputy Secretary of Transportation in 1989, I had the pleasure of working with Peggy Gilligan who was then the FAA Administrator’s Chief of Staff.  At that time, she was a six-year veteran and I was new!  

She was the “go to” person if anyone needed anything from the FAA.  She was unfailingly kind, knowledgeable, and always willing to help.  She was a true professional and shared her wisdom and experience.

I soon learned that “Safety” was her middle name.  Her dedication to safety marked her 37-year DOT career.  It began as an attorney in the FAA’s Eastern Regional office and led to her assignment as  Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety in 2009.

Her career has left a strong imprint on aviation safety.

Although air traffic fatality numbers had hit historic lows, Peggy didn’t relax.  She raised the bar.   She helped make the Commercial Aviation Safety Team a success, by encouraging industry and pilots to share incident data on a confidential basis.  Analysis of this data helped prevent incidents from happening.  Without Peggy’s leadership, programs like InfoShare and Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing might not have become reality.

Peggy made other contributions.  She helped the FAA turn the corner on incorporating new technology such as unmanned aircraft, the Part 23 life-cycle study of the small aircraft certification process, new rules for pilot fatigue and rulemaking on many other fronts.  

Peggy, you are an inspiration.  You have made the FAA proud and you have made DOT proud.

As she goes on to the next phase of her life, we wish her well. 

God speed, Peggy.  I see you entering a new chapter in your life, where you will be able to draw on your considerable experience and wisdom.  I know the friendships you have built over 37 years of service to your country will continue to be part of your life.