Obituary for the Congressman who is the Father of the FAA Tech Center  

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Representative Hughes of New Jersey died

Was the Champion and Defender of NAFEC a/k/a the FAA Tech Center

Saw the Importance for FAA to have Technology as a Mission

Commentary here about Congress’ is frequently critical. All too often Members’ intervention seems driven by parochial constituent interests, efforts to draw media attention through quotes with more attention to headline writers than the facts or comments based on superficial staff research. There are, of course, many thoughtful, well-supported criticisms or positive statements.

In that context, here are the thoughts of a former head of the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center a/k/a the Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center, Joe DelBalzo about the death of the Congressman:

“It is rare for a career employee to have a relationship with a Congressman, but Rep. Hughes was a personal friend. A facility in his district was not just a political asset, but a place where a community of able scientists, engineers, mathematicians, technicians and administrative personnel were committed to aviation safety. Their mission and those individuals mattered to him.

In my opinion, there would be no Tech Center if not for him. He fought to keep NAFEC in South Jersey when it was on the brink of being torn apart with pieces moved to NASA, Oklahoma City or some Defense Department facilities. After winning the battle to keep NAFEC open he worked doubly hard to ensure it’s modernization from a WW II air base into a state of the art World Class aviation test center.

His devotion to NAFEC would be given high marks by the current Congress. Today’s Members repeatedly state that they want the FAA closer to be closer to cutting edge technology. His Hughes Center lives closest to technological advances by academia and the private sector. His colleagues sitting on Capitol Hill should acknowledge his determination to keep the Tech Center one of governmental excellence.

Rep. Hughes, my friend, was a man who understood the need for research in the pursuit of safety. Though he fought for New Jersey, his goals were not parochial, he saw this facility as a national/international asset – an institution for aviation safety.”

 William Hughes, 20-year New Jersey congressman, dies at 87

“OCEAN CITY, N.J. (AP) — William J. Hughes, a longtime congressman from New Jersey who went on to become U.S. ambassador to Panama, has died at 87.

His family said Thursday that Hughes passed away on Wednesday in Ocean City, where the family had lived for many years. A cause of death wasn’t released.

Hughes was one of dozens of Democrats elected to the House in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, and he served until his retirement in 1995. He was then appointed ambassador to Panama by President Bill Clinton and served in that role until 1998.

During his years in Congress, representing southern New Jersey’s Second District, he served on the House Judiciary Committee and chaired the Subcommittee on Crime. He was instrumental in passing legislation to ban fully automatic firearms.

“His legacy will live on through his family and the many achievements that he made on behalf of our great nation,” his son, William Hughes Jr., told The Associated Press on Thursday.

At a January 2018 speech at Stockton University’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a longtime family friend, referred to him as “a model of civility and statesmanship.”

In an email, Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called Hughes “nothing less than a New Jersey icon” who served as a county prosecutor and later helped protect the state’s natural resources while in Congress.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s research and development center outside Atlantic City was named after Hughes in recognition of his efforts to keep the facility in southern New Jersey.













William J. Hughes Technical Center

The FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center is the nation’s premier air transportation system laboratory. The Technical Center’s highly technical and diverse workforce conducts test and evaluation, verification and validation, and sustainment of the FAA’s full spectrum of aviation systems, and develops scientific solutions to current and future air transportation safety challenges by conducting applied research and development. Technical Center engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and technical experts utilize a robust, one-of-a-kind, world class laboratory environment to identify integrated system solutions for the modernization and sustainment of the NAS, and for delivering NextGen operational capabilities.


Link to a history of NAFEC/ William J. Hughes Technical Center





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