Obama appoints Babbitt as FAA head

US President Barack Obama has chosen Randy Babbitt (right) as the new head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Babbitt, is a consultant who had previously run the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the largest airline pilot union in the world, in the 1990s.

As head of the FAA Babbitt will become the top safety regulator of passenger and cargo airlines in the US and be responsible for management of the US air traffic control network.

James May, president of the Air Transport Association, said: “Randy Babbitt is a superb choice to lead the FAA. He has both the experience and the leadership skills to drive the modernisation of our aging air traffic management system and to improve relations with air traffic controllers.”

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association was equally happy about Babbitt’s appointment but pointed out some of the challenges that he faces. “I congratulate Mr. Babbitt on his nomination. We now look to the Senate Commerce Committee in hopes of a swift confirmation so that Mr. Babbitt can get right to work in tackling the array of big challenges that will await him when he reaches his office; the accumulation of several years of failed FAA management, a ‘run it like a business’ agenda that has no place in a safety agency, and, of course, the absence of fairness and respect from its relationship with its employees, particularly the controller workforce.”

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