Letter Groups Applaud Move; NATCA Unimpressed
ANN REALTIME REPORTING
10.23.07 1400 EDT: When searching for a replacement
for former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, President George W.
Bush apparently didn't look very far. On Tuesday, reports surfaced
the President plans to nominate Bobby Sturgell, currently
the Acting FAA Administrator and previously Blakey's deputy, to
take on the job full-time.
The action was met with a quick response from US Transportation
Secretary Mary Peters, who applauded Sturgell's nomination.
"As a former fighter pilot with over three decades of aviation
experience, Bobby Sturgell has worked tirelessly as Deputy FAA
Administrator to fight congestion and modernize our aviation system
while preserving the safest period in aviation on record," Peters
said. "I urge the Senate to swiftly consider Bobby’s
nomination and confirm him to a full five-year term."
According to his FAA biography, Sturgell was sworn in as the
12th Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration on
March 24, 2003. In support of the Administrator, Sturgell oversaw
the agency's day-to-day operations, capital programs and
Sturgell previously served former Administrator Blakey at the
FAA as her senior counsel. He held the position of senior policy
advisor at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), where
he served as the Chairman's primary advisor and coordinator on the
NTSB's recommendations, policy programs and other safety
Prior to joining the NTSB, Sturgell was a flight operations
supervisor and line pilot for United Airlines, flying the B-757 and
B-767 in both domestic and international operations. Sturgell is
also an attorney and has practiced aviation law at the Washington,
DC law firm Shaw Pittman.
A former naval aviator, Sturgell was an instructor at the Navy
Fighter Weapons School (Topgun) and flew the F-14, F-18, F-16 and
A-4 aircraft. Now a Commander in the US Naval Reserves (Retired),
Sturgell is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and the University
of Virginia School of Law.
"Bobby has worked tirelessly to modernize our nation's
air-traffic control system," White House press secretary Dana
Perino said Tuesday, reports The Associated Press. "He has over
three decades of real world experience in the field."
The Air Transport
Association, lobbying group for the nation's largest airlines, also
commended Sturgell's nomination.
"Bobby Sturgell is a highly respected leader of the aviation
community. His distinguished and varied background, in both civil
and military matters, uniquely equips him to serve as FAA
administrator," said ATA President and CEO James C. May. "We look
forward to working with him on the wide range of issues that affect
aviation, including the ongoing effort to modernize the nation's
air traffic control system."
Praise for Sturgell wasn't reserved for airline interests... as
the Experimental Aircraft Association and National Business
Aviation Association both weighed in favorably on the President's
choice, as well.
"Bobby Sturgell understands the issues that face EAA members and
has been engaged in those issues as Deputy Administrator under
Marion Blakey," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president. "Bobby has also
had the opportunity to join us at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh over the
past several years, so he is very familiar with EAA and our
members' enthusiasm for flight. We thank President Bush for moving
quickly on the nomination and urge a speedy confirmation by the
Senate, so work on important recreational aviation issues will not
"Bobby Sturgell is a distinguished aviator with a strong
government background, having served both at the National
Transportation Safety Board, and at the highest levels of the FAA,
and NBAA looks forward to working with him," a statement from NBAA
Phil Boyer, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association, also weighed in on Sturgell's nomination.
"We've worked closely with Bobby for more than five years and
have found that he understands aviation from the pilot's
perspective," Boyer noted. "He was particularly helpful in pushing
through some of the latest changes that made the Washington, DC Air
Defense Identification Zone a little easier for pilots to
However, Sturgell's nomination was not met with universal
praise. Stating the past five years have witnessed "the demise
of the world’s safest and most efficient air traffic system,"
the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said Sturgell's
nomination represents more of the same.
"The President's nomination for FAA administrator has been an
integral part of this systematic demise of controller staffing and
abysmal labor-management relations," said NATCA president Patrick
Forrey. "Therefore, NATCA will not support a nominee that will
continue to exhibit a management philosophy that demoralizes its
valuable workforce to the point of leaving."