In a unanimous decision, the United States Senate voted 98-0 on Tuesday to greenlight President Joe Biden’s nominee, Michael Whitaker, for the crucial role of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) administrator.
Last week, members of the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously endorsed Whitaker, signaling a swift confirmation process. If all goes as planned, Whitaker would take on the role, thus ending the vacancy that has persisted since March 2022.
Whitaker, a former deputy FAA administrator with a background spanning both private and public sectors of the air travel industry, faces a challenging landscape. His responsibilities, outlined by Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell, include building a “strong safety culture, attracting new talent, and keeping pace with technology transformation.”
The FAA has grappled with issues such as an air traffic controller shortage, aging technology, and close calls between planes. Despite these challenges, industry leaders express confidence in Whitaker’s capabilities.
U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman commented on the confirmation, stating, “Mike Whitaker is a capable and tested aviation leader who will bring critical expertise to the FAA.” Freeman emphasized the need for a safe, modern, and efficient air travel system.
American Airlines CEO Robert Isom echoed this sentiment, praising the Senate’s unanimous approval. Isom highlighted Whitaker’s qualifications, describing him as the “right person at the right time” to lead the FAA into the next era of aviation. Isom expressed confidence in Whitaker’s ability to modernize the nation’s aviation system while maintaining the highest levels of safety.