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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not been doing well since President Biden took office and Pete Buttigieg took over the Department of Transportation, and now there’s another problem on the horizon that the president has not taken steps to address.
Rather than a nationwide system outage that grounded all flights or an unaddressed ATC staffing shortage that forced airlines to slash flights at East Coast airports ahead of the busy summer travel season, this time it’s just one position that will soon be empty and is likely to bring even more issues for America’s air transportation system.
You see, current Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen is stepping down from the post this summer, leaving the FAA without a chief.
After the news of Nolen’s departure broke, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) noted that the acting administrator had “performed admirably under difficult circumstances at a time when the FAA is dealing with a number of vacancies in top positions of leadership, including the position of Administrator.”
For whatever reason, Biden did not nominate Nolen for the role and left him as acting administrator, but Chairman Graves said that, “based on his time leading the agency in his current position, I believe he proved that he would have made a capable Administrator had he been nominated and confirmed.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also praised Nolen’s performance as acting administrator and called on Biden to nominate a competent individual for the role “swiftly.”
I want to thank Billy Nolen for his leadership at the FAA & his steadfast dedication to aviation safety.
I wish him well in his future endeavors, & I hope @POTUS acts swiftly to appoint a nominee who will bring the same level of experience & commitment to service as Mr. Nolen.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) April 22, 2023
Instead, previously, Biden nominated an utterly unqualified nominee in Phil Washington. During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing earlier this spring, Washington was unable to correctly answer any of the seven questions asked by Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC). Washington didn’t know about FAA regulations or safety guidelines and couldn’t even say what causes an airplane to stall, as Townhall reported at the time.
Washington, predictably, was then forced to withdraw his name from consideration for the post and now, with Nolen’s approaching departure, Biden doesn’t seem any too concerned that the FAA will soon be without a leader.
“This should be a wakeup call for the President and his administration to fill the FAA’s ever-increasing leadership vacuum with highly qualified people without any further delay,” Chairman Graves said of the situation. “Our aviation system is under stress, and with Congress actively working to reauthorize the policies and programs of the FAA, it’s critical that these vital roles within the agency do not continue to go unfilled.”
Yet, Biden seems to be willing to let key FAA leadership positions go unfilled as he demonstrates no urgency to put forward qualified, competent individuals to fill the worsening FAA leadership vacuum and address issues that demand attention to make America’s air transportation system safe and efficient.
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