Washington, DC – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today announced that FedEx Express, a division of FedEx Corp., and its founder, Frederick W. Smith, will be honored with the 2012 Al Ueltschi Humanitarian Award, which recognizes the use of aviation for humanitarian purposes. For more than 30 years, FedEx Corp. has been the leading aviation sponsor of the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital, which brings together dedicated eye care professionals and aviators to give the gift of sight to people in developing countries around the world.
“FedEx and Fred Smith have steadfastly supported aviation and many important humanitarian endeavors through the years,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “NBAA has been proud to have FedEx as a Member Company since 1983, because the company has continually represented the values and professionalism NBAA has promoted since its inception.”
The Ueltschi Humanitarian Award will be presented at the Opening General Session of the NBAA’s 65th Annual Meeting & Convention on Oct. 30, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. Accepting the Ueltschi Humanitarian Award will be James R. Parker, executive vice president of Air Operations at FedEx Express and a member of the board of directors at ORBIS.
Parker spoke to the ongoing commitment the company has demonstrated to ORBIS in announcing last year a five-year, multimillion-dollar investment, saying, “We’re taking our work together to the next level by creating the next generation Flying Eye Hospital, which will significantly improve the lives of millions of people around the world who otherwise would have been blind, but now will experience the gift of sight.”
The new Flying Eye Hospital, the world’s only airplane with a state-of-the-art eye hospital on board, is being outfitted on an MD-10-30 freighter aircraft donated by FedEx, and features a modular design concept to advance both the requirements for aviation and medical certification. In addition, FedEx pilots volunteer to fly the current ORBIS DC-10 aircraft to medical programs around the world, train other volunteer pilots, provide volunteer maintenance and mechanical services and a variety of other volunteer assignments with international ORBIS teams.
Parker explained that humanitarian work FedEx delivers working with ORBIS is one of the company’s longest-running non-profit partnerships, and reflects Fred Smith’s devotion to aviation as well as his and the company’s commitment to charitable community service. Smith learned to fly as a teenager, is a member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and has served as chairman of the Board of Governors of the International Air Transport Association and the U.S. Air Transport Association. Smith also has received numerous honors for his business, civil and humanitarian activities, including as recipient of the Global Leadership Award from the U.S.-India Business Council, the George C. Marshall Foundation Award; and the Circle of Honor Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.
“ORBIS’s work would not be possible without the steadfast support of FedEx,” said director of ORBIS’s MD-10 Project, Jack McHale. “We are grateful for the lasting commitment of FedEx to our mission of saving sight worldwide. Thanks to FedEx, we look forward to ORBIS’s next generation flying eye hospital, an MD-10, taking flight in 2013 to help continue ORBIS’s sight saving work,” said McHale.
NBAA’s Ueltschi Humanitarian Award was established in 2006 in honor of Al Ueltschi, whose lifetime of dedication to philanthropic causes set a high bar for giving back to communities. The award is given by NBAA in recognition of the use of airplanes in support of humanitarian activities in the U.S. and around the world.
Past recipients of the award include the Cessna Citation Special Olympics Airlift, the Corporate Angel Network and the Veterans Airlift Command. Last year’s recipient was Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for his use of airplanes to provide life-saving medical services in the U.S., Africa, Haiti and other parts of the world.
NBAA2012 is the world’s premier annual business aviation event, and will be held from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in Orlando. The Convention will feature exhibits covering a million square feet of floor space at the Orange County Convention Center, an on-site outdoor light business airplane static display adjacent to the convention center and a static display of aircraft on Orlando Executive Airport. NBAA2012 will feature more than 100 education sessions and will host thousands of business aviation professionals who are interested in seeing and learning about all that is new in the world of business aviation.
About National Business Aviation Association
Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 9,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show.
ORBIS and FedEx – Delivering Sight Worldwide
FedEx has supported ORBIS for 30 years, providing millions of dollars of cash and in-kind contributions. In 2011, FedEx renewed a USD $5.375 million, five-year commitment made to ORBIS in 2006. It includes the extension of the FedEx Fellows Program that provides an opportunity for talented local doctors to receive the continuing medical education needed to address leading causes of avoidable blindness within their countries.
ORBIS benefits from the unparalleled FedEx global network and their aviation expertise to help the Flying Eye Hospital remain aloft. FedEx Express pilots volunteer to fly the ORBIS DC-10 to many of its medical programs and train other volunteer pilots, FedEx Express mechanics provide maintenance support, and FedEx Express team members around the world volunteer as part of the ORBIS humanitarian team as interpreters, welcoming and escorting patients to and from their surgeries, and assisting with patient screenings. FedEx also provides complimentary transportation services to move critically needed medical supplies to ORBIS clinics and programs worldwide, makes the FedEx Express flight training simulator available to train volunteer pilots, and supports annual safety checks for ORBIS’ flagship Flying Eye Hospital.