Following his Dec. 3 arrest for driving while intoxicated (DWI), Randy Babbitt resigned as administrator of the FAA and his deputy has taken over as acting administrator. Michael Huerta is expected to remain in the post until after next year’s election to avoid any nomination squabbles prior to the election.
When submitting his resignation Dec. 6, Babbitt issued a statement saying he was “unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by my colleagues at the FAA.”
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood had said he “was disappointed” to first learn of Babbitt’s Saturday night arrest when it was released by the Fairfax, Va., city police the following Monday.
Babbitt was stopped by police in the Washington, D.C., suburb about 10:30 p.m. after he was seen driving on the wrong side of the road. He was the only person in the car and there was no accident or injury. Police did not release the results of his breathalyzer test. Babbitt requested a leave of absence the following Monday and resigned the next day.
A veteran pilot who flew for 25 years for Eastern Airlines, Babbitt was one of the first FAA administrators in years who was actually a pilot. He had earned many friends in the GA community because he understood flying, having started his career in Florida as a CFI.
Huerta, the new acting administrator, joined the FAA to oversee development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). He has held transportation positions in various places across the country, but has little aviation experience. He was manager of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games from 1998 to 2002. From 1986-89 he was commissioner of New York City’s Department of Ports, International Trade and Commerce. He then served as the executive director of the Port of San Francisco from 1989-1993. From 1993 to 1998 he held senior positions in the U.S. Transportation Department in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the FAA Huerta was president of transportation solutions for Affiliated Computer Service, a Xerox subsidiary specializing in business processes and information technology.