President’s team knew FAA Administrator job would become vacant
Irritated about absence?
Current team doing well
Delay may be OK
Seeing that Michael Huerta was named to the Delta Air Lines Board was both pleasing, since he deserved it, and irritating because it was a reminder that the FAA has not had a Presidential Administrator appointment sitting in the seat at 800 Independence for 109 days (the date of Huerta’s term ended to today).
That initial reaction was exacerbated when the count was extended back to President Trump’s inauguration, 460 days ago, when he, his Transition team, his Executive Appointment team and the Secretary Chao should have initiated a priority headhunting assignment. There is a compelling need for someone
- to manage NextGen,
- to assure the successful transition to Compliance Philosophy,
- to guide the adoption of the new performance-based certification regime,
- to get a handle on drones, flying cars and other new uses of the lower altitudes,
- to prepare for the surge of innovation hitting the FAA’s certification,
- to reassert the US’s aviation influence globally,
- to respond to the community noise demands
- to deal with the international environmental movement
But as they say in the NFL, upon further review, the following ameliorating considerations came to mind:
- Dan Elwell seems to be doing a perfectly good job. He has excellent credentials and frankly meets all of the above-listed criteria.
2.Carl Burleson was an excellent choice to be Acting Deputy– from a former Acting ADA-1. He has extensive roots within the FAA, knowledge of the career OST employees, knows the international arena and has excellent judgment.
3.All things being equal, appointing an Administrator would be positive for the FAA. Two are really needed to do all the work. The primary function of the AOA-1 position is to be seen; the role of ADA-1 is to do the work which fits into the unseen category.
4.Based on other Trump selections, it is not so sure that an FAA Administrator nomination would be a plus. A truly talented leader with a range of skills—from relating to the rank and file to grasping the nuances of technology—would be great, but such a candidate appears to be beyond current expectations, given the past 16 months of “sturm und drang.”
5, A 60’s conspiracy mind set suggests that the later in the Trump 1 (?) Term an Administrator is submitted, the longer a Republican will be sitting at 800 Independence Ave. into the 2020 President’s term.
6. The hereto for sine qua non criteria for a candidate no longer needs to include pro-privatization.
Having two capable, qualified political appointees at the top of the FAA organization is a good idea. There is a lot of work to be done and a certain amount of it requires individuals with the credentials needed to deal with the White House, Congress, OMB, the DOT and other high-level contacts. Dan and Carl are doing such an excellent job that a replacement may not be as urgent or critical.
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