Will Blakey Succeed Mineta?

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FAA Administrator Marion Blakey is considered among the front runners to replace Norm Mineta as Secretary of Transportation and, if she gets the job, it could raise the stakes in the looming battle over the shape and form of the FAA's next-generation structure and operation. Mineta, who will resign effective July 7 (download the letter of resignation from Secretary Norman Y. Mineta to President Bush, here), appeared to be a moderating influence on Blakey's apparent ambition to institute widespread user fees throughout the system. He was occasionally at odds with (or seemingly confused by) the FAA's drive toward a user-pay system, particularly when it concerned GA. He publicly stated his opposition to GA user fees in several high-profile forums, including AOPA Expo in Tampa last November. However, it should also be noted that the statements were never unequivocal and he worried business aviation officials earlier this year when he seemed to suggest that business aviation was somehow distinct from general aviation (and thus ripe to be assessed user fees). On the other hand, since direction for the overhaul of the FAA seems to be coming from the Oval Office, the name on the door at the Department of Transportation may not matter much and Blakey certainly has the credentials. Before taking over the FAA, she was head of the National Transportation Safety Board.