Sep 30, 2008

Speech at Airbus A380 naming ceremony

Speech at Airbus A380 naming ceremony

Sydney Airport

Tuesday 30 September 2008

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government,

Leader of the House,

Federal Member for Grayndler

It is a pleasure to be here today at this special event.

Pilots in the audience will be familiar with the saying ‘the engine is the heart of the aeroplane, but the pilot is its soul’.

If there was ever a person who embodies this quote, it is Nancy-Bird.

Nancy-Bird’s first formal flying lesson was with Charles Kingsford Smith in 1933, and along with Kingsford Smith, Bert Hinkler and Reverend John Flynn, Nancy-Bird’s name is synonymous with Australia’s aviation history.

Nancy-Bird – your achievements both on the ground and in the air have inspired generations of women to forge careers as pilots.

Ever since your first flight as a confident 17 year-old, you have helped dispel the myth that flying is solely a man’s domain. Your leadership and determination have inspired many young female pilots to follow in your footsteps and reach for the skies.

Thankfully, a lot has changed since 1935, when Harold Thorby, a Minister in the Lyons government, said flying was not "biologically suited" to women.

You are an Australian icon, and I cannot think of anyone more appropriate for this magnificent new aircraft to be named after.

Of course, Qantas is another Australian icon.

It is fitting therefore that the two of you join forces to help take the industry into a new era – the introduction of Qantas’s new Airbus A380 into the Australian market.

It’s fitting because, in many ways, your achievements have run in parallel over the past 70 years.

In the mid 1930s when Nancy-Bird was learning how to fly, Qantas was also spreading its wings, undertaking its first overseas passenger flight from Brisbane to Singapore.

And when Nancy-Bird established the Australian Women Pilots’ Association in 1950, Qantas had just begun its regular weekly service to London on the famous Kangaroo Route.

Qantas’ investment in its fleet of A380s is an investment in the airline’s future.

I’m sure those of you from the airline will agree, it comes at a time when your industry is undergoing dramatic changes.

A new generation of aircraft, like this one here today, is getting passengers to destinations quicker, and in greater comfort.

The growth of new markets like India and China are opening up new opportunities for airlines. The aviation industry, like many others, is also reaping the benefits from a global economy.

Take the construction of the A380 for example. The aircraft may have been built in France, but her Rolls Royce engines are from the United Kingdom, parts of her tail were made in Japan, and her wing tips were made here in Australia by Hawker de Havilland. But with these changes and new opportunities, a number of significant challenges have also emerged.

As we have seen in recent weeks, the world economy is changing rapidly and has become increasingly unpredictable. High fuel prices and global economic conditions are impacting on many international industries, including aviation.

The Rudd Government understands that we need to meet these challenges head on, and have a long term view of Australia’s aviation industry.

We need to plan ahead, prepare for the future and accept that some changes will need to be made.

That is why the Government is working with industry and the community to develop Australia’s first National Aviation Policy Statement, or White Paper, which will guide and facilitate the industry’s growth through this first period of the 21st century.

Australia has an enviable record of protecting the safety of the travelling public and people who work in the industry.

We are regarded internationally as having the safest skies in the world.

It’s a record the industry should be proud of.

It’s a record Qantas should be proud of.

But if we want to maintain, and indeed enhance our reputation as having the world’s safest skies, we must continue to look at ways to improve safety.

Safety and the environment will be two of areas we will focus on in the National Aviation Policy Statement and, I’m pleased to say, they are two important features of the A380.

The A380’s smaller noise footprint on take-off and landing reduces the impact of aircraft noise on airport neighbourhoods.

At the same time, the new generation engines burn less fuel – meaning lower emissions of exhaust gases.

And the A380 is also an extremely safe aircraft.

It is built from materials which are stronger, lighter and more damage resistant.

And the aircraft’s advanced on-board safety systems, coupled with its enhanced safety management approach, make it one of the safest planes in the sky.

The A380 is an awesome flying machine.

Last Saturday prior to the AFL Grand Final, the crowd at the MCG was treated to an awesome sight when a Qantas A380 flew low over the ground.

This generated a real sense of excitement in the crowd – a level of excitement that will, I’m sure, be reflected more broadly as the significance of this advance for the aviation industry is recognised.

Conclusion

In today’s busy world, when modern aircraft, like this one, transport millions of people around the world every day, it is sometimes easy to forget the wonder and romance of flight.

But now and again, special events like this one today help us to stop for a moment, and remind ourselves of the magic of flying, and the people who have shaped Australia’s aviation industry. Special people like Nancy-Bird.

Your name on the side of this magnificent aircraft acknowledges the enormous contribution you have made to Australia; to our aviation industry; and for the current generation of female pilots.

It is an honour to share this day with you and, on behalf of the Australian Government, I extend to you and to Qantas my congratulations.

Together, you are the heart and the soul of this magnificent new aircraft.