Randy Babbitt, who served as president of the Air Line Pilots Association during the 1990s, is expected to be nominated by the Obama administration to be the next FAA administrator, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Babbitt's name has been in the rumor mill for a while, and he's considered to be a compromise candidate who is likely to be acceptable to both airline types and labor leaders, according to the WSJ. The administration is apparently feeling pressured to fill the long-vacant post quickly, due to the recent run of aircraft accidents in the news. Neither the White House, nor the FAA have confirmed the appointment.
The new administrator will face not only questions about safety but a wide range of challenges, including negotiating a new contract with air traffic controllers, getting the NextGen overhaul on track, and resolving conflicts over how the agency should be funded. Babbitt is currently a partner in the aviation practice at Oliver Wyman Group, a management-consulting firm owned by New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos., according to the WSJ, and questions may be raised about whether his work there included lobbying on behalf of clients he may now be in charge of regulating. AVweb will have updates on this story as it develops.