Randy Babbitt, a prominent aviation consultant and former head of the largest U.S. commercial pilots’ union, is expected to be nominated as the next head of the Federal Aviation Administration, according to industry officials and others familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported on March 25.
Babbitt served as president of the Air Line Pilots Association during much of the 1990s, set up his own advisory firm and then merged it with the larger consulting firm of Oliver Wyman. Emerging as a compromise FAA administrator candidate acceptable both to labor leaders and to airline officials, Babbitt’s toughest challenges are likely to be negotiating a new pact with the nation’s air-traffic controllers and finding ways to finance a new satellite-based navigation system designed to increase capacity and safety for airliners and other aircraft, Journal writers Andy Pasztor and Christopher Conkey wrote.
Other difficult issues will be restoring congressional and public trust in a sprawling agency that was embroiled in controversy last year over maintenance lapses by a number of carriers and improperly close ties between some FAA inspectors and airline managers.
An announcement could come later in the day of March 25, said the article, which had been written the night before. Apparently he White House had offered the job to Babbitt weeks ago, pending background and financial checks. An announcement had been tentatively scheduled for next week, but the recent spate of high-profile aircraft accidents apparently prompted the Obama administration to speed up the timing, the Journal reported.
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