SECRETARY’S ROLE AT PRESS CONFERENCE ON NATIONAL AIRPORT ATC EVENT RAISES QUESTIONS

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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood and Acting FAA Administrator Huerta Address July 31 Incident at Reagan National Airport

Audio from the press conference is available here: https://dotmediacenter.onehub.com/d/ik1v/

Video of the radar replay is available here: https://dotmediacenter.onehub.com/d/v9yf/

Transportation Secretary LaHood prepared remarks are available here:
http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2012/lahood08022012.html

FAA Acting Administrator Huerta’s prepared remarks are available here: https://www.faa.gov/news/speeches/news_story.cfm?newsId=13793

Lahood and Huerta

The FAA Administrator has the full and exclusive authority for aviation safety. He reports to the Secretary of Transportation and the relationship is best expressed in terms like general supervision, policy directives and consistency with the President’s agenda. These parameters have marked the roles of Secretaries and Administrators for decades with few exceptions.

In that context, am I the only one that finds the presence and statement of Secretary LaHood at a press conference concerning a relatively minor incident a little odd?

The attached press release about a recent press conference, due to the unusual prominence of Mr. LaHood, creates valid grounds to question what the real import of this odd staging was.

The proper protocol on almost all technical FAA events, such as accidents (big or small) or an ATC incident like this, is for the head of the FAA to take the fore initially. He’s supposed to be in charge and his boss should not be the 1st PR responder. The Secretary should withhold his opinion; so if there is a need for a second review or even appeal, he has not spoken.

There is probably nothing to this press conference. My finding it odd may be nothing more than the unwarranted speculations of someone, who lived through an age of conspiracy theorists. There are many good reasons for the Administrators, not the Secretaries, to be the spokespersons for mundane events. Not the least of those rationales is to preclude the press looking for reasons why the Secretary is speaking on an issue below his pay grade!

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