Changing the way the FAA does business

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michael Huerta, the new administrator at the FAA, sees challenges ahead for all aviation, which creates the need for government and the private sector to work together to resolve those challenges “to achieve the opportunities the next five years will bring.”

“We must all be mindful of our respective roles,” he said. “Government and industry need to work together in today’s aviation world.”

He made these remarks after his swearing in for a five-year term.

The new administrator cited safety as a top mission of the FAA and pledged to work to enhance safety and to be smarter about how the agency approaches safety issues.

Michael Huerta

Michael Huerta

“This means taking a proactive and data-driven approach, rather than a reactive, forensic approach,” he said.

Everybody in aviation, he added, is a part of the network and knowledge base that is going to help move to the next level of safety.

Transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is not a government program alone but a partnership with industry, the administrator declared. The FAA is already employing NextGen technologies and seeing benefits in fuel savings, time savings, and lower emissions, he added.

Huerta said that under his direction, the FAA is committed to changing the way it does business to meet the demands of growth and to stay abreast of the latest advances in aviation. He noted that all employees are encouraged to work more creatively to meet the challenges that are ahead.

As technology advances and aircraft become more complex, it places a premium on transparency and communication between the FAA and the people it regulates, according to Huerta. For the past 50 years, the FAA has been managed by a system of orders, a system of rules, and a system of regulations, he noted.

Cooperation between the FAA and the industry and people it regulates “might be a new place for some of us,” and perhaps slightly uncomfortable, he acknowledged.

“A bridge must be created where all parties inside and outside the government can work together,” he said.

 Help for airport legal problems

The Airport and Airways Improvement Act of 1982 says any airport that receives federal funds must operate for the benefit of all the public, for all types and classes of aeronautical activity, including self-fueling of aircraft. Despite this last item, many airports run into confusion about who can and should refuel, and are confused by such things as granting exclusive rights, leases, or permits, balancing the rights of owners with efficient and safe operations, and other similar legal subjects.

This confusion often results in more work for airport attorneys. To assist, the non-profit Transportation Research Board is issuing a report on the legal aspects of airports, including a section on self-fueling. The report is intended to inform aviation attorneys and other aviation personnel how federal and local guidelines pertaining to self-fueling have been applied under different circumstances.

The section on self-fueling is but one of many subjects in the publication “Legal Aspects of Airport Programs,” which could be helpful to attorneys and others involved in legal aspects of airports.

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