Drunk Babbitt resigns

THE US’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Randy Babbitt has resigned from his position following an arrest for driving while intoxicated.

Babbitt was arrested at 22:30pm on 3 December after a police officer observed a car driving on the wrong side of the road. Babbitt was subsequently released on a personal recognizance bond.

According to the Transportation Department (DOT), in the first instance Babbitt requested leave of absence after news of his arrest became public on 5 December. “DOT officials are in discussions with legal counsel about Administrator Babbitt’s employment status,” the statement said at the time.

Babbitt has since resigned. In his resignation statement he did not mention his arrest, but said he would not “let anything cast a shadow” over the FAA.

The DOT announced that deputy administrator Michael Huerta would serve as acting administrator.

“I am confident in their ability to successfully carry out all of the critical safety initiatives underway and the improvements that the FAA has planned,” Babbitt said in a statement.

Babbitt has endured long-term funding woes and a bleak outlook operating solely on stopgap bills during his tenure. Congress added more pressure by partially shutting down the FAA during the summer. In addition the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) overhauled the administration earlier in the year after the news of a sleeping air traffic controller went public. ATO head Hank Krakowski subsequently resigned.

Meanwhile Babbitt, aged 65, will appear in court on 2 February. He was sworn in as FAA administrator in June 2009 and previously served as part of the FAA’s Management Advisory Council. He also founded an aviation consulting firm, Eclat Consulting, and was a 25-year pilot at Eastern Airlines as well as an official with the Air Line Pilots Association.

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