The Senate confirmed two of President Barack H. Obama’s key transportation nominees on May 21. Randolph Babbitt, an aviation consultant and former president of the Air Line Pilots Association, will head the Federal Aviation Administration. The Senate also approved John Porcari, who will leave his current post as secretary of Maryland’s Department of Transportation to be the U.S. Department of Transportation’s deputy secretary.
Babbitt now faces the immediate and popular concerns of pilot training scheduling and fatigue, along with the enduring problem of labor relations between the FAA and the air traffic controllers, not to mention air traffic control modernization. Babbitt earlier had told the Senate Commerce Committee that the FAA also might need to revisit standards for commuter aircraft and their crews.
The Senate also confirmed Aneesh Chopra to be Obama’s first chief technology officer and associate director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. Rebecca Blank was confirmed as the Commerce Department’s under secretary for economic affairs.