Groups Avoid "U" Word in Sturgell Reaction

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The White House announcement that Robert Sturgell will be nominated as the next FAA administrator drew quick reaction from the GA alphabet groups. Sturgell has been with the agency long enough that the players are familiar with him and his stand on the issues. None of the major groups mentioned the user fee issue, which Sturgell has presumably played a major role in developing. Sturgell demonstrated his support for user fees under oath at a Congressional committee hearing last month saying that the way the FAA is funded needs to change. "A cost-based funding structure is essential to transforming the aviation system," he said. With that thorn conveniently buried for the moment, the groups found plenty to like about Sturgell's appointment.

AOPA and EAA said they welcomed the nomination. "Bobby Sturgell understands the issues that face EAA members and has been engaged in those issues as deputy administrator," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president. "Bobby has had the opportunity to join us at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh over the past several years, so he is very familiar with EAA and our members' enthusiasm for flight." AOPA President Phil Boyer also said he is okay with the choice. "We've worked closely with Bobby for more than five years and have found that he understands aviation from the pilot's perspective," Boyer said. "He was particularly helpful in pushing through some of the latest changes that made the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone a little easier for pilots to negotiate." The National Business Aviation Association said: "Bobby Sturgell is a distinguished aviator with a strong government background ... NBAA looks forward to working with him."

National Air Transportation Association President James Coyne praised "Bobby's experience and leadership." The National Air Traffic Controllers Association vehemently opposed the whole idea. Sturgell has played "an integral part [in the] systematic demise of controller staffing and abysmal labor-management relations," NATCA President Patrick Forrey said. "NATCA will not support a nominee that will continue to exhibit a management philosophy that demoralizes its valuable workforce to the point of leaving."