Michael Whitaker, President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Federal Aviation Administration, has secured confirmation by the full Senate, ending a prolonged period during which the agency lacked a Senate-confirmed leader since March 2022. In an overwhelming show of support, the Senate voted 98 to 0 to confirm Whitaker, following his nomination's smooth passage through the Commerce Committee just last week.
Michael Whitaker, now at the helm of the FAA, currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of a Hyundai affiliate focused on developing advanced air mobility vehicles, commonly referred to as "air taxis." His impressive resume also boasts extensive experience as an airline executive at Trans World Airlines and United. Additionally, he held the position of Deputy Administrator at the FAA during the Obama administration.
Biden pick to lead FAA confirmed after vacancy of more than 18 months https://t.co/23hmRTe7jm
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) October 25, 2023
While Democrats have lauded Whitaker for his qualifications and unwavering commitment to safety, Republicans have expressed concerns regarding his predecessor's credentials. Initially, President Biden had nominated Phillip Washington, whose candidacy faced opposition from GOP members due to perceived deficiencies in aviation safety expertise. However, Republican Senator Ted Cruz has since pledged his support for Whitaker, having received assurances from Whitaker that he would prioritize safety and remain apolitical in his role.
Whitaker's confirmation comes at a pivotal juncture for the FAA as it grapples with pressing issues in airline safety and the integration of cutting-edge aircraft technology. Furthermore, the agency is contending with staffing challenges, and its authorization is slated to expire in December. Whitaker's leadership is poised to play a crucial role in addressing these challenges and shaping the future of aviation regulation in the United States.