By Mary Grady
Newly confirmed FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has won a warm welcome from leaders in the general aviation world — along with realistic assessments that the times ahead will be challenging. “I look forward to working with Administrator Babbitt,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “During his confirmation hearing, and in my conversations with Randy, he demonstrated that he clearly understands general aviation pilots and our needs.” Fuller added that the impending debate over how to fund the FAA and efforts to transition to the satellite-based NextGen ATC system won’t be easy. “But by working together we can emerge stronger,” he said. Tom Poberezny, EAA chairman and president, also welcomed Babbitt’s appointment. “His broad knowledge of the aviation industry should allow him to make an immediate mark on GA,” he said. Poberezny added that AirVenture attendees will have an opportunity to meet Babbitt later this summer at the Meet The Administrator forum at Oshkosh.
NBAA also issued a statement welcoming Babbitt. “As a pilot, he has operational knowledge of our air transportation system. He also brings recognized expertise to our highly complex policy issues. …Randy will be able to hit the ground running at this critical point in the evolution of our system.” National Air Transportation Association President James Coyne said the appointment could have significant impact. “I am hopeful that Administrator Babbitt’s confirmation will carry us over the hump towards passage of a bill that modernizes our air traffic control system, rejects user fees, and invests in airport infrastructure,” Coyne said. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association also congratulated the new administrator. “NATCA believes that the ultimate success of NextGen is dependent upon collaboration between the union and the FAA,” said NATCA President Patrick Forrey. “We hope that is now possible under Randy’s leadership, allowing key NextGen modernization projects, airspace redesign and changes to air traffic control procedures to move forward safely and effectively.” Babbitt was formerly an airline pilot and served as president of the Air Line Pilots Association.