A number of US aviation associations have welcomed the Biden administration's nomination of Michael Whitaker to serve as the next permanent administrator of the FAA.
Whitaker is an attorney, a longtime aviation industry professional and private pilot who served as deputy FAA administrator from 2013-2016. In that role, he also led the agency's air traffic modernisation efforts as the chief nextgen officer. Since 2020, Whitaker has worked with Supernal, the advanced air mobility subsidiary of Hyundai, serving as the company's chief operating officer.
NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen says: “Mike Whitaker has long been an outspoken aviation safety advocate and champion of innovation in the industry, who demonstrated during his time as deputy administrator at the FAA that he is a proven leader who delivers results. We enthusiastically support his confirmation as FAA administrator.”
Whitaker has served in several key industry roles, including as assistant general counsel for TWA and then 15 years with United Airlines, including as senior vice president of alliances, international and regulatory affairs. After leaving United, he was named group CEO at InterGlobe Enterprises, the holding company for IndiGo, India's largest airline.
In addition to leading the FAA's NextGen programme while deputy administrator, Whitaker also stood up the agency's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, the first FAA organisation dedicated to UAS operations in the US national airspace system.
GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce says: “The FAA, the civil aviation industry and the American flying-public deserve a leader with experience in managing large organisations and an aviation background to develop an aviation system that is safer, more efficient and technologically advanced. We are pleased to see that the Biden administration has nominated Mike Whitaker, who we feel possesses the leadership skills, management experience and aviation knowledge needed to lead the FAA. Having worked with him in his previous role as FAA deputy administrator, we are confident that his intimate knowledge of how the agency functions and interfaces with the Department of Transportation, Congress and the industry will improve his ability to navigate the challenges now facing the FAA. We also believe that Mr Whitaker and Katie Thomson, the recently appointed deputy administrator, will be a strong leadership team for the agency. GAMA supports the confirmation of Mr Whitaker to provide needed stability and direction for the FAA during this transformative time for aviation.”
NATA president and CEO Curt Castagna adds: “NATA is pleased to see the nomination of Mike Whitaker to become the next FAA administrator at a time when the agency desperately needs calm, level-headed, permanent leadership. Mike's proven track record in roles as deputy administrator and within multiple sectors of the aviation industry make him well suited to lead the agency. Whitaker's direction of key nextgen initiatives, experience as a pilot, extensive knowledge of the business of aviation and focus on the evolution of our air system are assets that will serve both the aviation community and the agency well as we move forward safely and efficiently. Swift confirmation of Michael Whitaker as FAA administrator is crucial in this time of transition, and we thank the administration for this important step toward securing a permanent FAA leader.”
HAI president and CEO James Viola says: “Mike's 30 years of aviation policy experience gives him the knowledge and skillset to effectively lead the FAA. I worked closely with Mike during my tenure overseeing general aviation at the FAA and, from what I saw, I am confident that he is the right person to lead the agency at a time when aviation, particularly vertical aviation, is evolving at such a rapid pace.
“Vertical aviation is leading the future with advanced helicopter technology, eVTOL aircraft, uncrewed aircraft systems operations and continued innovation across the vertical flight sector. As our industry moves forward, it is critical that the United States has strong leadership at the FAA to provide global regulatory guidance while continuing to set the gold standard in safety. HAI is confident that Mike will provide that leadership.”