NAA Awards 2013 Wright Memorial Trophy to 2nd Woman Recipient

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ARTICLE: Blakey Gets Wright Trophy


A lot of blame and little credit come to those who take the challenge of the FAA Administrator or the Chairman of the NTSB. Over the last 30 or so years, public servants of great talent and even greater effort have occupied these seats. The awarding of the 2013 Wright Memorial Trophy to the Honorable Marion Blakey is a well-deserved honor for her extraordinary record.

Her tenure with the Board was marked by several major investigations. She left after a short time, being called by the President to lead the FAA. Her efforts at outreach and improved reporting were among her legacy there.

Ms. Blakey’s primary contribution was her tenure at the Orville and Wilbur Wright buildings between 2002 and 2007. She is credited with launching the NextGen program, moving the navigation system from land to satellite-based platform. She also did battle with NATCA over its new contract which included more realistic wage scales and rules than previously negotiated. Under statutory process invoked when the union and the FAA reached an impasse, Congress was given the opportunity to disapprove of the contract; it did not and the contract went in force. The Administrator also proposed a user fee to be imposed on every flight that used the ATC services. That debate continues years later. Aside from those very visible actions, Administrator Blakey exemplified excellent management of the programs and people of the FAA.

She has created new energy in her new organization—Aerospace Industries of Association. She has brought in talent with subject matter expertise and experience. AIA is known now for advocating aggressively on behalf of an aviation safety agenda in the press and on the Hill. Her members support for the true modernization has been communicated well to the Hill. Perhaps her signature initiatives have been her establishment of AIA as a clarion voice against sequestration.

Congratulations, Ms. Blakey for such an appropriate honor.

For those who did not know, the first woman to receive the Wright Trophy was Olive Ann Beech in 1980.

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