Around the Airport

Monday, January 8, 2018

Could EAA Ever Give Us an FAA Administrator?



This past weekend, I wrote about the changing of the guard at the FAA. I also wondered aloud, “Could the EAA President be a candidate for the position?” Perfectly suited and well situated, those who truly understand aviation know he would be a great choice. Yet, as some pointed out, there is a problem; a person to fill the position has already been named.
Unfortunately, most of DC, nearly all the US citizen base, and all of the FAA believes aviation is either the military or the airlines. This is a horrible place for us to be and a seriously flawed notion of what constitutes aviation. The misunderstanding also falls squarely in the lap of GA.
Acting like an abuse victim, it has willingly accepted the idea it deserves only what it gets - fighting for the morsels instead of the chunks and excited to get crumbs. This is disturbing; it is a losing attitude; it must be changed.
As you read my earlier post, included below, you’ll note I’m always looking for the slightest hint of Jack Pelton leaving EAA. There has been no outright indication, and no real suggestions. Although, eventually, tomorrow or in ten, it will happen.
Subconsciously, if you’ve been around EAA for any amount of time, the idea of a new leader makes you nervous. The reasons for this are many. We have a recent example as to what happens with the wrong person in charge. We have no reason to feel comfortable in the process of finding the right person; let’s face it, aviation is very swampy itself. And, deep down, we all know aviation, real aviation, is clinging to the ledge. Naturally, nobody wants to think about it. Myself, that’s all I can think about – the long game.
Personally, I find it inconceivable a new Administrator has already been named. Yes, a perfect commercial aviation safety record makes naming a new person to head the agency an untimely decision. On the other hand, the person named to the position was brought up in the previous administration. There’s also this:
“49 U.S. Code § 106 - Federal Aviation Administration -US Code
 (a) The Federal Aviation Administration is an administration in the Department of Transportation.
 (b) The head of the Administration is the Administrator, who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. When making an appointment, the President shall consider the fitness of the individual to carry out efficiently the duties and powers of the office. Except as provided in subsection (f) or in other provisions of law, the Administrator reports directly to the Secretary of Transportation. The term of office for any individual appointed as Administrator after August 23, 1994, shall be 5 years.”
I don’t remember this happening. Do you? If it ever does, I want our guy at the table. Is anyone working on this?

The original post is below.

If you monitor the daily happenings of aviation you most likely noticed Jack Pelton recently receiving the NAA’s McDonald Distinguished Statesman of Aviation Award and the FAA’s Friend of Safety Award. I know I did. Whenever anyone of Pelton’s standing earns multiple awards it typically means one of two things, they’re either dying, or ready to move on to another position. Don’t worry. I’m quite sure Jack is healthy.
Awards are rarely non-coincidental. More often than not they are strategically issued to promote someone at an opportune time or to recognize an individual before they move on. In either case this also means the word is out or people are catching wind of impending change. That’s what I can’t help but wonder. Has the time come for greater things?
Early this year I suggested EAA make a bold move and do whatever it took to get the new President to Oshkosh for the annual event. Amazingly, many who read it laughed it off. The rest of them could only offer a thousand reasons why it could never happen. That’s not the spirit of the EAA. It was a good idea based on solid reasoning – we need the highest levels of American government to see what General Aviation really is and how well it offers everything this country needs to be great again. More importantly, new administrations mean change. Change is either good or bad. We need it to be good.
What could change? Sure enough, there has already been a push for the privatization of ATC. Our leaders, no longer understanding anything but corporatism and lobby dollars, have lost sight of freedom. Each side, digging deeper into their trenches, offers drastic solutions to non-existent problems for the purpose of soundbites and notches on headboards. Reason and accountability are extinct. This is not good for aviation.
Our way of life, flying, is not a black and white beast. It requires cerebral individuals at the helm, privately and in government, to properly shepherd it through a world increasingly focused on matters of monochromatic nature. It is the rock under a foundation supporting a house wherein individuals with no understanding of construction live. Were these people ever placed in charge of housing development, toilet paper manufacturers could successfully lobby them to do away with funding for the rock because, “Who sees the rock?”
If you think I’m kidding, remember, we live in an era when federal politicians are on record saying such things as too much weight on Guam could make it flip over.


How does all this relate to Jack Pelton getting awards? Two days ago Michael Huerta stepped down from his position as FAA Administrator. This leaves Carl Burleson, to become the FAA’s acting deputy administrator. Will Trump propose a new administrator born outside “the swamp?”
Although there are others, Pelton would be a natural for the position. He comes across as a DC outsider but is more than comfortable standing next to it. His leadership resume also includes time at one of America’s most storied aircraft manufacturers. Moreover, he is head of EAA - the largest grassroots aviation organization – a group increasingly strangled by regulation. He is the right person at the right time.

This would be impossible for the President to ignore if he had been to Oshkosh.
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