Screen Actors Guild

A few weeks ago, President Biden announced the nomination of Michael G. Whitaker to serve as the next FAA Administrator. The FAA has been without an Administrator since early 2022 when Steve Dickson retired. It has had three Acting Administrators since then, and will have another Acting Administrator if  Whitaker isn’t confirmed by October 25.

Michael Whitaker is currently the chief operating officer of Supernal, a Hyundai Motor Group company designing an electric advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicle. He is no stranger to the FAA — he served as Deputy Administrator from 2013–2016. Prior to Supernal and his tenure at the FAA, Whitaker served as Group CEO of InterGlobe Enterprises. There, he oversaw strategy and operations for four affiliate travel companies. Whitaker also spent 15 years at United Airlines in a variety of roles as director, vice president and senior vice president. His broad portfolio at the airline included commercial alliances and joint ventures, international and regulatory affairs, and strategic counsel to the chairman and CEO on international matters. Whitaker began his more than three-decade aviation career as a litigator, then as assistant general counsel of international and regulatory affairs at Trans World Airlines (TWA). He is a private pilot and holds a juris doctorate degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He serves on the board of the Flight Safety Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes aviation safety globally.

If Whitaker is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he can start to fill the numerous jobs in the FAA that have had people serving in acting capacity — so many that one FAA official recently joked, “The FAA should be members of the Screen Actors Guild since we have so many actors.”

Here are current acting positions in the FAA (as of September 5):

• Polly Trottenberg Acting Administrator

• Keith Washington Acting Chief of Staff

• Tonya Coultas Acting Associate Administrator for Security & Hazardous Materials Safety

• Tracey Johnson Acting Vice President, Safety & Technical Training

• Talethia Thomas Acting Vice President, Management Services

• Pete Basso Acting Director, Office of Infrastructure Protection

• Larry Fields Acting Executive Director, Flight Standards Services

• Paul Fontaine Acting Assistant Administrator, NextGen

• Erika Vincent Acting Director, Office of Audit & Evaluation

• Melanie Boteler Acting CIO/Deputy Assistant Administrator Information & Technology Services

• Miguel Nieves-Mojica Acting Director, Labor & Employee Relations

• John Maffei Acting Director of Portfolio Management & Technology Development

The next priority for the aviation industry is FAA reauthorization. The last FAA reauthorization was enacted in 2018 and is set to expire on September 30.

Will Congress approve Whitaker’s nomination and pass FAA reauthorization in a timely manner? I guess time will tell (and we’re running out of time). Personally, I’m skeptical given the snail’s pace typical of our elected representatives.

Thanks for reading! 


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