Thank you President Kotaite.
The United States has submitted Working Paper 31 that urges the Assembly to agree on the need for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop guidance material for States dealing with the needs of aviation disaster victims and their families.
As many of you know, in 1996, the United States adopted laws that require United States airlines to submit a detailed plan to our Department of Transportation, or DOT, dealing with the needs of victims and their families following airline accidents in the United States.
In 1997, additional legislation was adopted that also requires foreign airlines operating to and from the United States to submit a plan to our DOT similar to those required of domestic airlines.
The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, is charged with reviewing the airline plans and ensuring that airlines fulfill their obligations following a crash in the United States. The NTSB is also charged with coordinating United States government resources in support of airline and local and state efforts to meet the needs of airline disaster victims and their families.
As Chairman of the NTSB, I can report that our new program has been exercised already and we have learned a great deal that will make future implementation of the program more efficient.
The benefits of this program were recently apparent when Swissair flight 111 crashed near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Swissair activated the plan developed for operations in the United States, and I understand it has resulted in excellent handling of the victims' families affairs. Swissair and the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia should be acknowledged for the professional and respectful manner in which they assisted the families of the victims of this tragedy.
I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to the Spanish government which has submitted Working Paper 80 that contains similar views on this subject.
The United States urges the Assembly to adopt the resolutions contained in Working Paper 31.
In general, we are urging that ICAO and Contracting States reaffirm their commitment to support victims of civil aviation accidents and their families.
We are urging ICAO to provide support for the development of guidance materials, which could include Standards and Recommended Practices, citing the need for the establishment of a program by Contracting States and their air carriers to support the victims of aviation accidents and their families.
If the resolutions are adopted, the NTSB is prepared to assist ICAO with the development of guidance material or any other documentation.
We are also urging Contracting States to cooperate with ICAO and other States in the development and implementation of a program to support victims of aviation accidents and their family members.
Thank you Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be here today to present this important Working Paper.
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