By AOPA ePublishing staff
In a move anticipated by most in the aviation industry, President Bush on Oct. 23 nominated Robert A. "Bobby" Sturgell to be the new FAA administrator. Sturgell has been acting administrator since Marion Blakey completed her five-year term on Sept. 13.
"While we haven't always seen eye to eye with Bobby on such issues as user fees, labor relations, or flight service oversight, we've always been able to talk honestly and know that he at least understands our position," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "And he does know the difference between an aileron and a rudder."
But if he does get the job, he may not be in it for long. Congressional insiders told the Capitol Hill newsletter BNA that Senate Democrats aren't likely to approve a Bush administration appointee to serve for five years. A "recess appointment" is more likely. Congress can't block a recess appointment, but it would mean that Sturgell would only serve through the end of the current administration.
Sturgell was previously deputy FAA administrator, and earlier served as senior counsel to Blakey. He was particularly helpful in pushing through some of the latest changes that made the Washington, D.C. Air Defense Identification Zone a little easier for pilots to negotiate.
Sturgell was the enthusiastic representative of the FAA when AOPA dedicated the pilot facility at First Flight Airfield during the celebration of the Wright brothers' centennial of flight. He spoke to AOPA's support of the general aviation community and said that members should be proud "of the work AOPA does day in and day out for pilot safety, training, and development." He said that the FAA "values its partnership with AOPA and the work we do together."
Sturgell is a former naval aviator and was an instructor at the "Topgun" fighter pilot school. He was a flight operation supervisor and pilot for United Airlines, flying the B-757 and B-767. He's a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Virginia School of Law. He was a senior policy advisor at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and practiced aviation law at the Washington, D.C., law firm Shaw Pittman.
Updated: October 25, 2007, 4:41 p.m. EDT