FAA Nominee Sturgell To Face Senate Hearing This Week

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More than three months have gone by since President Bush nominated Bobby Sturgell to take over Marion Blakey's job as head of the FAA, but the Senate needs to confirm that choice, and so far they haven't taken action. This Thursday, Sturgell will at least get a hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. His nomination has been controversial, with most of the established user groups (including NBAA, AOPA, and EAA) willing to work with him, but an assortment of noisy advocacy groups, as well as NATCA, vehemently opposed. Senators in the Northeast have been lobbied heavily by constituents who are unhappy with the FAA's ongoing redesign of busy airspace in the region and opposed to Sturgell.

President Bush was prevented from pushing through the nomination during the holiday recess because Senate leaders held brief daily sessions and no official recess was held. Election-year politics could cause further delays, as Senate leaders may be reluctant to confirm a five-year assignment from a lame-duck administration that will be changing in less than a year.