New FAA Leadership Team for NextGen Unveiled

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ARTICLE: FAA Report @ NextGen Advisory Committee

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The Administrator gave his update on NextGen in a speech that he delivered to the Advisory Committee. After a couple of introductory paragraphs, including some depressing assessments of sequester (FY13 and 14) funds, the Honorable Mr. Huerta made the following statement:

“Nonetheless, there are bright spots. And we are delighted that the President has appointed Mike Whitaker to be the Deputy Administrator of the FAA. Mike has more than 20 years of experience in the airline industry and he will be the Chief NextGen Officer. He’ll be in charge of everything NextGen and will be doing these reports from now on with all of you. He just came on board yesterday, and I’m looking forward to a very productive relationship. Please join me in welcoming Mike. He’ll be leading our NextGen efforts, focused on delivering benefits now, and will be taking over as the NAC’s Designated Federal Official going forward. He may need a few more days to get fully immersed in all our acronyms, but I’m confident that, in working with all of you, he will make a difference. Please join me in welcoming Mike.”

His arrival was announced a while ago and the restructuring of the #2 job to be the lead on NextGen was explained months ago. The Administrator ‘s speech brought the underlying issues into focus.

Here is the FAA official biography for Mr. Whitaker:

Whitaker is a seasoned aviation executive with extensive business, regulatory, legal, and international experience. He is well versed in general and commercial aviation and has led collaborative efforts and joint ventures to promote aviation safety, enhanced performance and profitability, fostered alliances, and improved corporate governance. In addition, Whitaker has vast finance and marketing experience which includes tracking key performance metrics and achieving identified goals and objectives.

Before joining the FAA, Whitaker most recently served as a Board Member and Business Development Consultant for InterGlobe Enterprises from 2011 to 2012. Prior to this, he was a Group Chief Executive Officer within InterGlobe Enterprises from 2009 to 2011. From 1994 to 2009, Whitaker served at United Airlines, most recently as Senior Vice President for Alliances, International, and Regulatory Affairs. Prior to that, he served at Trans World Airlines from 1991 to 1994, most recently as Assistant General Counsel for Regulatory and International Affairs.

Mr. Whitaker received a B.A. from the University of Louisville and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Victoria Cox, the previous Assistant Administrator for NextGen, was highly regarded by industry and internally within the FAA. She left FAA last December.

Pamela Whitely, formerly Ms. Cox’s Deputy, has been named as the Acting Assistant Administrator for NextGen. Ms. Whitely has been an FAA engineer for 20 years, starting in the Airports’ shop where she defined standards for electrical equipment and lighting. She moved to be the technical liaison for the ATO Vice President for NextGen in 2006 and since then has been involved in its management, integration, and technical/ financial analyses.

Mr. Whitaker would be well served to spend a lot of time with Ms. Whitely. Then his history within the airline industry and his work on alliances will help him focus on the decisions which will bring immediate, valued returns to the users.

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