FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta, seen here in July 2012 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., served for a year as acting administrator before his confirmation Jan. 1.
Among the last-minute flurry of Senate confirmations Jan. 1, the long wait for a permanent leader of the FAA ended with the approval of Administrator Michael P. Huerta, and aviation groups welcomed the news.
Huerta was appointed to a five-year term in March 2012 and faced tough questions during confirmation hearings in June, then further delay pending the outcome of the November election. His confirmation, among dozens approved by the Senate in the waning hours of the 112th Congress, was welcomed by aviation groups. AOPA President Craig Fuller praised Huerta’s Senate confirmation:
“Huerta has a track record of listening to and working with the general aviation community. This is critical for our industry as the FAA navigates through significant changes taking place in airspace, navigation, air traffic control and safety programs. He also brings recognized expertise to highly complex policy issues, which is especially important during this time of fiscal uncertainty. As deputy administrator, Mr. Huerta was an effective leader and we look forward to continuing our work with him on issues critical to general aviation.”
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association was also quick to applaud, releasing a statement by President and CEO Pete Bunce that congratulated Huerta and also praised him as an “effective leader.”
“We look forward to continuing our work with him on such critical issues as improving certification processes and practices globally, advancing NextGen and ensuring compatibility with SESAR (European airspace modernization), and furthering critical investments in general aviation safety and infrastructure,” Bunce said in a news release. “Much progress has been made under Mr. Huerta’s direction and the general aviation industry looks forward to working with him to achieve much more in the future.”
Huerta was confirmed as deputy administrator in 2010 and appointed to lead the FAA in December 2011, following the drunk driving arrest and subsequent resignation of Randy Babbitt— charges that were dismissed in May 2012. Huerta has held senior transportation posts in New York and San Francisco, and also served as managing director of the 2002 Olympic Committee, helping to organize the games in Salt Lake City. After the games, he went to work in the private sector and was a transportation consultant when then President-elect Barack Obama tapped him to join the transition team following the 2008 election.
Huerta has made NextGen, the modernization of the nation’s air traffic system, a top priority, and emphasized expected benefits for general aviation during an appearance at EAA AirVenture in 2012 while side-stepping a question about $100-per-flight user fees that the White House has proposed.