Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

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ARTICLE: FAA Office Of Airports Announces Personnel Changes

052013

There are a lot of good civil servants who work at the FAA; they work hard, exercise superb judgment and care very much about aviation. The next level of career employees are smaller numbers; a segment of FAA people who take all of the above descriptive adjectives and increase their level of merit by a factor or two—harder, excellent and extremely.

Then, there is a very small class of FAA executives whose knowledge makes them a point of reference for their co-workers, the industry, the Hill and beyond. Their vision extends over the regulatory horizon and thus they are moving policies to align with those new developments. There are a lot of regulatory experts who know the rules and understand the problems that they may potentially create for the regulated.

There are a limited number of these dedicated folks who can define practical answers which more than meet the operational/financial needs of the regulated as well as enhance the safety aspects. Stated broadly these exemplary individuals presence in aviation has positively impacted those entities and their work.

The quintessential example of this last class is Kate Lang. She brought experience from her work at the Chicago Department of Aviation to the FAA headquarters. She moved into the Airports arena where she has been THE AUTHORITY on all matters technical and policy. A succession of political appointed Associate Administrators of Airports have benefitted from her sage advice.

Another measure of her worth, AAAE and ACI members demand that Ms. Lang be on their agendas for she is the oracle of Airports regulations. Anyone (financier, lawyer, operational guru or technical innovator) vetting a complex airport concept must come to the 6th floor of the Orville Wright to hear Ms. Lang’s views. The staffers on the Hill, as they work their way through a draft aviation bill, call up the Deputy Assistant Administrator to learn where there are shortfalls in their policy ideas and/or wording; the calls come from offices which have both Republican and Democratic bosses. She’s that highly regarded in these partisan days.

The European Aviation community needs to be forewarned! The FAA office in Brussels will show up on the Continental weather charts as a tornado, sweeping out to pull in every detail of what each country’s CAA’s agenda and activities, swirling it in the crucible of American aviation policy and disseminating a win/win responses. Those of us who have known Kate would expect no less.

The American airport segment has lost an Icon; fortunately Ben DeLeon is up to the task of filling Kate’s shoes, but he’ll need to wear sneakers to keep up with the Old Lang Sign of Excellence or as Booby Burns would say:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne* ?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
{if your ancient Scottish is a little rusty, here’s a link to a translation}

We will “tak a cup o’ kindness” Kate, but we n’er forget ya even while you’re far, far away in Brussels!

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