Proposed FAA Administrator Seems Likely To Win Congressional Nod


Former FAA Associate Administrator Michael Whitaker appears likely to become the next to hold the top job at the agency. Yesterday (Oct. 4) at confirmation hearings in Congress, Whitaker faced lawmakers’ questions on complicated issues involving shortages of pilots, air traffic controllers, aviation technicians and more.

If he is confirmed to a five-year term as Administrator, Whitaker will achieve the distinction of being the first Senate-confirmed Administrator in 18 months.

While Whitaker’s background as an attorney and an airline executive are strong cards in his hand, general aviation advocates are encouraged by the fact he took the time to earn his private pilot certificate and holds a Basic Med certificate.

Asked about the stalled Next-Gen air traffic control evolution, Whitaker called it “a successful and significant upgrade of the air traffic system that took many, many years to pull together.” He said that, if confirmed, he would place emphasis on evolving technology, to include so-called air taxis, drones and commercial space vehicles.

During his questioning, Whitaker told the Senate Commerce Committee, “I would view my role as administrator as chief recruitment officer, certainly for FAA but also for the industry.” He added he would consider opening a second FAA air traffic control training academy with an eye toward boosting the number of controllers the agency can bring on board annually in the years to come.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. A second ATC academy would be an excellent idea. May I suggest Atlantic City, NJ? The FAA already has a “footprint” at that site.

    • Don’t think that is a wise idea, just add a second and third shift to the current academy. You already have the building and the technical equipment that is required. New building, new equipment, would be years away. The ramp is required now, not five years from now.

    • I watched most of the Senate confirmation hearing on C-SPAN. I must say that this guy IS qualified, had answers to all the questions posed to him and didn’t waffle on anything. He had met — individually — with most of the members of the committee previously and I didn’t detect any any of them trying to trip him up. He was a former FAA employee, so he knows the Agency. What I found MOST poignant about his credentials is that he took the time and effort to become a private rated pilot and used Basic Med for his renewal. He’d get my vote. Let’s all hope he meets some modicum of performance when in the job.

      • I fully agree Larry. But let’s not forget that the primary skillset required of the FAA (or any other gummit agency) is “herding cats”. And the FAA is full of felines. I like him and wish him all the luck …

        • In my more than 50 years as an aviator and mechanic, I’ve seen many Administrators come and go. The one I hated was Michael Huerta. Many of the others were just occupying a position and following orders. Most were not pilots although a few were. I’m HOPING that since this guy took the time to become a private pilot and is familiar with BasicMed, maybe he’ll be one of the better ones?

          Time’ll tell … huh !! 🙂

  2. I would vote against him due to conflict of interest. He is deeply financially involved with eVTOL, air taxi, and similar interests.