GA gets attention in FAA administrator hearing

The FAA “completely understands the importance of general aviation,” Michael Huerta told a Senate committee Thursday, June 21, in his hearing for nomination to be FAA administrator. He has been acting administrator since the resignation of Randy Babbitt after his arrest for driving under the influence.

Michael Huerta

In his opening statement, Heurta asked the rhetorical question “how do you take the safest aviation system and make it safer? By making it smarter.” Most of his responses to questions from senators seemed to stress that position.

Several senators asked questions relating to general aviation, ranging from seeking assurance that despite Environmental Protection Agency concerns, avgas would continue to be available, to the importance of small general aviation airports.

NextGen also came up for discussion with several senators questioning its progress. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) commented that “we have been fiddling around with NextGen since before the turn of the century” and he would like to see faster action. Heurta stressed the importance of moving NextGen ahead quickly.

When asked about the President’s budget calling for a $100 flight fee on general aviation, Heurta responded that the administration was trying to find ways to “share the costs” of the aviation system.

Members of the committee generally indicated approval of Heurta’s nomination. In Washington, however, there is some speculation that the final voting could be delayed until after the Presidential election. Some believe the administrator’s fixed five-year term should not be enacted until it is determined what administration will be in power during that period.

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  1. Deputy_Don says

    The FAA has some major faults that could be addressed by
    being a little “smarter.” Recent history suggests that what we’re
    going to get is more stupidity instead. I am all for “safe” and hope
    that safety remains the number one priority for the FAA. Unfortunately, safety
    seems to constantly be used as an excuse for burdensome regulation that solves
    little and only satisfies loud mouthed grand standing politicians. For example,
    the battle over AVgas would be a moot point if the FAA could pull its head out
    and start embracing late 20th century engine control technology that’s been
    used in the automotive industry for decades. 
    That same technology would reduce or eliminate fried pistons and save up
    to 20% of fuel presently being burned.   Why do we still have third class medical
    certificates and why are the time frames on first, second, and third class
    medicals for those over 40 so tight?  Does
    anyone who sees an Optometrist and MD for a physical get a more cursory exam
    than a flight physical?  Why does it take
    a letter from God above to get proven equipment that wasn’t part of the
    original package installed in certified aircraft?  Why are we fixing a problem that doesn’t
    exist by requiring Transport Co-Pilots to be ATP certified?  If the FAA truly wants to maintain the safest
    system in the world they need to stop bleeding GA of dollars in their quest to
    save pennies, before there isn’t any system to make safe.

  2. Lbflying says

    Why should general aviation have to pay more of the costs?  I suggest they find a way to continue to foot the bill — the system is there for the air carriers.  We’re fine without control towers etc.

  3. Rwyerosk says

    I am a member of the FAA Whistleblowers Alliance FWA. For years our membership have reported problems in the FAA. Appointing Mr Huerta as the FAA Administrator will further weaken an already corrupt agency.

    I am sorry to say that Fraud Waste Abuse and Criminal Activity will continue in this agency that has lost it’s way in protecting the flying public.

    The DOT Secretary LaHood is leaving office in January. FAA senior management in Washington DC have little actual aviation experience. Mr Huerta is not qualified for this position.

    In less then six months we may have a new president in office and appointing a politician like Mr Huerta for the next seven years as FAA Administrator would be unfair.

    Only three years ago a new team was running the DOT. FAA Administrator Babbitt resigned after being accused of drunken driving and now the DOT Secretary LaHood is leaving office. It causes the average person to wonder”what is going on” in the FAA?


    Thank You,

    Richard Wyeroski, former FAA Safety Inspector

    PS please see FWA STORY

  4. Gabe Bruno says

    Huerta is a one dimensional character who was brought into the FAA to let out NextGen contracts to the beltway bandits. Already Billions over budget, Huerta will continue shoveling taxpayer money out of the FAA’s back door to the beltway bunch who have produced no results. He’ll be confirmed because he’s a politically protected conduit from taxpayer funding to the 1%. The confirmation hearings are a show for the 99%.

    • Ed Jeszka says

       I watched the political theater, Huerta before the Senate committee answering questions as if from a script. It is the same old same old that we have heard from just about every candidate for the Administrator of the FAA position. The truth is that if you were to carefully review the answers and the very large softball questions he was asked after all the laudatory back patting he said very little that would indicate he had an understanding of the real issues that are facing the FAA. No money to travel for inspectors to do inspections, ramp checks, safety seminars (NTSB just put on a safety forum in DC), the unabated death toll in GA. It appears that the number has for many years been well over 500 per year. That would seem to indicate that we really are not plagued with a true emergency. Reality would show a different trend. The GA community has been slowly logging less flight hours per year due to the downturn of the economy and the skyrocketing fuel and other associated costs.

      Then you have the “Bob Hoover” mentality running rampant, and most in the Alabama, Northwest Florida FSDO, have seen this first hand. They have moved quite a number of inspectors and some for potential acts of misconduct. That’s the FAA that needs to be addressed and then reap the benefits of having held someone, anyone, accountable for the continuous  aberrant behavior that as of right now, even under Huerta’s watch, is allowed and encouraged by the present Administration within the FAA.

      I often times joked about having all pictures shown to the FAA Administration (800 Independence Ave led by the political hack Huerta) be of a propeller driven aircraft so they would be able to recognize which end is really designed to go first, unlike a jet with confusing hole at both ends. No need to task them any further then they already appear to be.

      The $100 leg charge is  nothing more the levying another tax on the middle class. Share the costs is real speak for just another title for additional taxes. We really could improve the GA aviation environment with just some accountability for those who have never really learned what honesty and a little bit of integrity looks like. Just imagine how that  might really start the ball rolling toward a safer and more cooperative relationship between aviators and aviation related certificate holders.and the regulatory agency chartered to oversee safety in aviation

      Ed Jeszka
      Retired FAA Aviation Safety Inspector.

  5. Rod Beck says

    Gentlemen, gentlemen, and ladies of course!

    As long as government be it Federal, State, County,or Municipal and economic decisions are made by those trained in law (JD’s) who don’t have a clue that this(capitalistic) system ONLY works when “money in is equal to or greater than money out”. NOTHING, including this debate over an equatible solution to “user” fees will ever be solved.

    Until, in my opinion, the structure or “mind set” of government  has the cognative abililty to empathise with the business community, small or large, and also has a genuine understanding that unjustified laws and regulations are strangling the American way of “free enterprise”, we’re all stuck at a “red” light!

    For decades, we, the people, have been putting (electing) the BEST of those running for office in hopes they will do a competent job.
    Would you hire a “student” pilot for a position to fly a 757 – of course not!

    What we NEED, but can’t seem to get, is “management”, be it Congress, Senator’s,
    or the President,  who totally understand the fundamentals of business, yes, business – for isn’t the very problems, or most, that this great (still) country is in, can be traced back to and is rooted in BUSINESS?

    But just HOW do we encourage the “RIGHT” folks to run for office – good question – one, I frankly don’t have an answer for. I have discused this very issue with many of my peers, mostly in some sort of business, and we have all concluded that no one would have the patience for all the indecision and bull____of politics; real business people get things done – NOW – they don’t fence sit!

    If and when all our governments don’t at least have a “balance” of business people in office either making sound practical economic decisions on behalf of all of us, God help the younger generations behind us!

  6. Lawheelock says

    Most of the comments are correct in pointing out that Mr Huerta cannot possibly “understand” GA since he has NEVER been a participant!  He sidesteps the $100 question by saying “we will find ways to share the cost”.  It is obvious he is ignorant of the fact that GA pays a high fuel tax and that when it was implemented, the airlines paid no fuel tax.  I don’t know if they do now, but it is really their paying passengers that pay for the system, not the airline corporations!  Grassroots GA, from where most of the pilots of tomorrow come, do not have “paying passengers” to foot the bills.  We have to do that ourselves!
    If the present administration gets another 4 years, GA is doomed!

  7. Rwyerosk says

    Mr Huerta has no aviation experience. He did not hear about General Aviation until being appointed somehow as Deputy FAA Administrator.

    Have they all lost their minds?

  8. Tim Conroy says

    Just what we need…another Obama stooge to jack up the already high costs of operation. FBOs are already gouging us with high ramp fees and fuel prices. He will surley go along with the $100 per leg tax.

  9. Airsurg2 says

    If he really understood the general aviation group, he would immediately get rid of the “medical experts” that started and continue  the “Bob Hoover” mentality regarding medical certificates. Get rid of the third class medical, and send those employees that would be displaced where they can continue their “usefullness” (TSA to be exact!

  10. QtfQtfQtf says

    I’d stop flying period if they introduced these user fees on small planes.  I’d literally just quit that day.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  I love flying, but it already takes every bit of disposable income I have (not even disposable really, it cuts into my bills and my life necessities without a doubt), but if they keep threatening with crap like this, I’m gonna have to trade the 150 for a motorcycle…  Because I just can’t do it anymore as much as it pains me to say that.  They are making this yet another thing for the 1% only, and not for the rest of us working suckers that keep the 1% on top.  

  11. Wary says

    “How do you take the safest aviation system and make it safer? By making it smarter.” —Is that “more expensive and with more federal intrusiveness?”

    • Montana says

       Government will make the aviation system just like the Post Office, Amtrak, and the thousands of other terribly run programs bureaucrats in DC get their hands (and our tax $) on.

  12. Gventrella says

    When asked about the President’s budget calling for a $100 flight fee on general aviation, Heurta responded that the administration was trying to find ways to “share the costs” of the aviation system.

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