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November 28, 2012
Frederick, MD — Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association (AOPA) President and CEO Craig Fuller Wednesday praised a decision by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), to lift his hold on the nomination of Michael Huerta as administrator of the FAA, noting that the agency requires consistent leadership at a time of wide-ranging changes in the nation’s aviation system.
“Michael Huerta is well-qualified to manage the monumental changes taking place in the FAA airspace, navigation, air traffic control and safety programs that directly impact general aviation,” said Fuller. “As acting FAA administrator he’s been a big part of these changes so far, and the general aviation community should be heartened that his confirmation is finally poised to move forward.”
Sen. DeMint on Monday lifted his objection, clearing the way for Huerta’s confirmation by the full U.S. Senate. Huerta was approved in July for the FAA job by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The South Carolina senator had blocked a final Senate vote on Huerta’s nomination ever since.
Huerta came to the FAA in 2010 after a lengthy career in transportation. Huerta’s past posts include serving as commissioner of New York City's Department of Ports, International Trade and Commerce in the 1980s and executive director of the Port of San Francisco from 1989 to 1993. He was appointed acting FAA administrator by President Barack Obama in December 2011 and was then nominated to serve a five-year term as full-time FAA administrator.
The FAA is in the midst of sweeping changes to the nation’s airspace and air traffic control systems. Implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) will replace an aging ground-based radar system and allow aircraft to forego navigation along published airways and instead use satellite global positioning systems (GPS) to fly more efficient routes. NextGen will also employ a more accurate system of air traffic control management and collision avoidance that will give pilots a better sense of the position of other aircraft.
AOPA has played an instrumental role in helping to shape NextGen, sitting on a several joint industry-government committees to ensure that the needs of general aviation pilots and aircraft are met.
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