Whitaker Nomination Expected Thursday


As has been rumored for months, Politico is reporting President Joe Biden will nominate FAA and industry veteran Mike Whitaker as the agency’s next administrator on Thursday (Sept. 7). Whitaker’s name first came up in May, a couple of months after the former nominee Phil Washington withdrew following a rough ride in the Senate confirmation process. Washington, the CEO of Denver International Airport, was criticized on both sides of the aisle for his lack of direct aviation experienced and was also tainted by indirect involvement in a corruption scandal in Los Angeles, where he ran the transit system. Whitaker spent 15 years at United Airlines before becoming the FAA’s deputy administrator in 2013. He oversaw the NextGen ATC modernization while in that post and left for the private sector in 2016. He is currently the chief operating officer of Supernal, an advanced air mobility company.


Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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    • Sounds like he is qualified and probably knows where the restrooms are. I do read in a 2015 bio that he spent 5 years with TWA and 15 with United and that in 2014 he obtained a private pilot license “as part of his commitment to fully understanding aviation technology and the challenges of general aviation.” He also subsequently worked on an instrument rating and one would assume that by now he is rated. All that being said it reads as though he might be weighted towards the airline industry side of the spectrum.

      [email protected], please say specifically what you mean by “finally a non diversity hire”. I suspect what you really meant to say and should have said if you were galley being honest is: “white, straight, caucasian man, not black, not brown, not yellow, not gay, not female because none of those demographic groups have anyone amongst them who could possibly qualify”.

      • As “American” says, it is obvious to any honest observer that this administration has put “Intersectionality” score before expertise, experience or even intelligence in far too many appointments to critical posts. From the Secretary of Transportation to the previous nominee for this position to the Supreme Court to the Vice Presidency, this misguided Diversity-Equity-Inclusion focus has worked to the serious detriment of the nation. Mr Whitaker seems to have been selected based on experience, knowledge and achievement in the field of aviation, and the fact that he elected to become at least a private pilot suggests that he understands that aviation consists of more than scheduled Part 121 airlines. Most of us couldn’t care less what his race, sex or sexual proclivities are, but it will be great if he is someone who is good at his job.

      • John, I suspect that you are one of the many people that refuse to acknowledge the DAMAGE that this Administration has caused to our Country. Please WAKE UP, before it’s too late. PLEASE Stop letting your hatred of the ORANGE man cloud your vision of what’s actually happening. Diversity and Inclusion can be a good Policy when used intelligently, but not when used solely for the purpose of filling Quotas or trying to correct perceived past discrimination. Previous Experience, Qualifications, and record of accomplishments must take priority over Race, Gender, or LGBTQ+ status, when being selected to fill significant positions in our Government. Nothing exemplifies that more than what is currently happening in our Country, and the individuals that have been placed in high level positions in the Current Administration.

        • Rick, my comment above was not made as a political shill for the present administration. It merely reflects international professional experience since the earlier years of my aviation career that the best of the best can indeed also be found among what has somehow come to be termed “the diversity”, and that if our searches for talent are not diverse, we are the losers.

  1. Since none of you, who are assailing every non-white/straight/male/pilot candidate, have any evidence that “diversity” was the any factor in the nomination, your comments say far more about your insecurities than the fiendishly complicated vetting process. Unless and until you can present documentation, I suggest that STFU is your best approach.

    When the candidate takes office, and then does something you don’t like, feel free to criticize the action. Not that anyone here has anywhere near the expertise, credentials, or guts necessary to be on anyone’s short list of candidates for national office.

  2. Regardless of all the hype above, he looks like a very capable and experienced nominee. Congratulations Mr. Whitaker! I hope he lasts longer than the previous handful. We need some stability in that position.

  3. There have been many poorly qualified appointments in recent years by this administration. Mayor Pete -what has he done to enhance transportation? Two months of paternity leave in the middle of the supply chain backup at our ports? Jeniffer Granholm, the Dept of Energy Secretary- a lawyer/politician who falsely interpreted a fusion experiment as “a great breakthrough” for controlled fusion energy. Who also bought shares in a green energy company that is now bankrupt. She was totally unqualified for that position, having no physical science background. Definitely not in the Oppenheimer class. Then there is Kamala, the word salad chef, who seems to think she is always talking to grade schoolers. Then there was Phil Washington, nominated for FAA administer, who couldn’t answer some of the most basic questions about aviation. There are other examples. Quite obviously this administration favors identity politics over competence. At least this nominee has reasonable qualifications, something in short supply lately.

  4. I hope that now that the Flying Magazine conglomerate has bought AvWeb, they don’t eliminate comments from articles. It’s fun, and it’s a chance to hear what the grass roots people of aviation are thinking. Haven’t we had enough of censorship and cancelling ? But I have a sinking feeling this will be squashed.