The Wall Street Journal has reported that President Biden is expected to nominate former FAA Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker to be the next FAA Administrator.
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The move has been under consideration since May, when it was reported by Axios. Whitaker served as FAA Deputy Administrator during the Obama administration, serving under FAA Administrator Michael Huerta from 2013 – 2016. Whitaker was an attorney for TWA and then United Airlines. Whitaker then worked as Group CEO at Indian travel conglomerate InterGlobe. Whitaker has been with Hyundai eVTOL company Supernal since 2020: he currently serves as Chief Commercial Officer.
The appointment would offer stable leadership for the agency, lacking for more than a year. The FAA Administrator is appointed by the President and must be confirmed by the Senate. The agency and has been without a permanent leader since March of 2022, when Trump appointed FAA Administrator Steve Dickson announced that he would leave the position mid-way through his 5 year appointment. Acting Administrator Billy Nolen was then named to hold the position until a new Administrator could be appointed: Nolen left the agency in June of 2023 to take a position with eVTOL manufacturer Archer Aviation. The FAA is currently under the leadership of Acting Adminstrator and US DoT Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg.
If nominated, Whitaker will have to be approved by the Senate. President Biden’s first nominee to the position was Phil Washington, CEO of Denver International Airport. Washington withdrew from the process after 9 months of delay as Senators questioned the depth of his experience in aviation and refused to advance his nomination.
The FAA is facing significant challenges currently. The 2018 FAA Reauthorization will expire in September of this year: a new Reauthorization package has passed the House but stalled in the Senate. A series of recent runway incursions have led to renewed scrutiny over aviation safety. For the drone industry, a rule on BVLOS flight and definition on Type Certifications and more have yet to be defined.
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Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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