FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt put himself and his agency on the front line July 29 when he stood before hundreds who turned out for a “Meet The Administrator” forum at EAA AirVenture. With him was a surprise guest, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
LaHood stressed the importance his department and the Obama administration place on general aviation. “GA is a critical, absolutely important element of our aviation system in this country and in the world,” he said.
In his remarks, Babbitt addressed GA safety and complimented GA pilots for the “wonderful” downward trend in GA accidents. He noted that there have been only 120 fatal GA accidents in the first six months of 2010, but said until that number is zero, it won’t be good enough.
He continued his theme of professionalism for all levels of pilots, urging GA pilots, whether they fly for themselves or for a living, to get recurrent training.
Babbitt also addressed one of the most complicated issues facing general aviation today: the future transition to an unleaded aviation gasoline. Babbitt said his agency is “keenly aware” of pilots’ interest in resolving the issue, and he assured the audience members that his agency has reached out to the EPA and begun working cooperatively with them. “We have a very good relationship with the EPA and the industry, and we have a common commitment to bring this to a successful conclusion,” he said.
For the second time in as many years, Babbitt was asked about through-the-fence operations, especially at residential airparks. He said that the FAA took the unusual step of putting a controversial policy out for public comment, and as a result of the comments received has revised the policy, which is currently undergoing review and may be issued before the end of the summer.