Biden nominates a former aviation executive to lead the FAA

President Joe Biden has selected former senior aviation official Michael Whitaker to lead the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has been without a permanent leader since April 2022. Whitaker is currently the chief commercial officer for Supernal, a Hyundai company working on an electric air vehicle, and previously served as a deputy FAA administrator under President Barack Obama. 


The nomination of Whitaker will be announced formally later today. The FAA has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for over 17 months, following the departure of Steve Dickson midway through his five-year term. 

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Whitaker's nomination comes after several concerning aviation near-misses, including an incident in August when a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 and a Cessna Citation 560X business jet narrowly avoided collision in San Diego. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has commented on Whitaker's selection, stating that "the FAA needs a confirmed administrator and Mike Whitaker is the right leader for the job." The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating seven runway incursions, including the San Diego incident. 


Whitaker has 30 years of aviation experience and previously worked for TWA and United Airlines, where he served as a senior vice president. The Air Line Pilots Association and Airlines for America have praised Whitaker's nomination, recognizing the need for "permanent, stable leadership that is safety-focused" given the challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. aviation industry. A short-term extension of the FAA's authority to operate beyond September 30 is expected to be passed this month by Congress, while a bill to raise the mandatory commercial pilot retirement age and revise pilot training rules has stalled due to disagreements.

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