Rockefeller Remarks on FAA Administrator Nominee Michael Huerta

June 21, 2012

JDR Head ShotWashington, D.C.—I want to congratulate you, Mr. Huerta, on your nomination to be the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  If confirmed, you will be charged with leading the most complex aviation system in the world and an agency that faces several critical challenges.  

Chief among these tasks is making sure the agency takes the steps necessary to maintain the highest levels of safety in the aviation industry.  Although the aviation sector is enjoying one of its safest periods in history, we have experienced some troubling incidents over the past few years.  The agency has already made substantial progress implementing the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010.  Among other accomplishments, the FAA has issued new pilot fatigue rules and moved forward on the use of Safety Management Systems.  As the new Administrator, I expect that you make sure the industry continues to embrace a strong culture of safety.

The next Administrator will also have to execute the mandates of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  Aside from safety, modernizing the air transportation system remains the most important challenge.  The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) will make our aviation system safer, more efficient, and strengthen the airline sector’s ability to help drive economic growth.  It is encouraging that the FAA has been able to move forward on some key components of NextGen, including satellite-based navigation (ADS-B) capabilities in the Caribbean, and the development of more precise landing and take-off procedures (RNAV and RNP) at airports across the nation.  Much of this progress has been achieved under your direction, Mr. Huerta, so I have high expectations that you will continue this positive trend.

You already have first-hand knowledge of the challenges confronting the FAA and its operations, and you have received high marks for your performance.  I look forward to hearing from you today on how we can strengthen our aviation system.