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New FAA Administrator Confirmed for First Time in 19 Months
The agency will have a Senate-confirmed leader again.
On Tuesday evening, the Senate voted unanimously to confirm Mike Whitaker as the next Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Whitaker is a former deputy administrator at the FAA, where he served from 2013 to 2016. He is also an attorney and a private pilot, previously holding various airline leadership roles, including a 15-year career at United.
In his confirmation hearing, Whitaker pledged to prioritize safety and innovation at the FAA amid a string of recent close calls at airports across the U.S.
“I commend the U.S. Senate for quickly confirming Mike Whitaker to lead the FAA. With his three decades of aviation experience, including his time as FAA’s Deputy Administrator, Mike has earned broad bipartisan support because it’s clear he has the expertise and disposition to successfully lead the agency from day one,” Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
Whitaker’s confirmation was praised by aviation industry groups and lawmakers from both parties.
“NATCA congratulates Mr. Whitaker on his confirmation and looks forward to continuing our collaboration with the FAA to address the critical challenges facing the agency,” said NATCA President Rich Santa in a statement.
“The FAA now has the leadership required to thoroughly address staffing and training shortages, runway safety, and modernization of technology and infrastructure throughout the NAS,” Santa added. NATCA represents over 20,000 air traffic controllers at the FAA.
Ongoing since March 2022, the path to a new FAA Administrator has been rocky. After former Administrator, Steve Dickson departed the agency in early 2022, the position has remained vacant. In July 2022, President Biden nominated Denver Airport CEO Phil Washington, who eventually withdrew his nomination due to concerns regarding his experience in the industry. Whitaker was nominated by Biden in September 2023.
Whitaker is expected to be sworn in as FAA Administrator in the coming weeks.
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