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Fri, Jul 28, 2017

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta Bids A Farewell To Osh

Final Speech At AirVenture Touches On Drones, ADS-B, ATC Privatization

By Tom Patton

In what will be his final speech at AirVenture as Administrator of the FAA, Michael Huerta thanked EAA and the aviation community for welcoming him as the non-pilot "accidental administrator", and said he was proud of what he and the agency have been able to accomplish over the past seven years.

Administrator Huerta said the very definition of aviation has changed during his time at the head of the agency, For instance, he said, he has watched unmanned aircraft go from a curiosity to a hobby to what it is today, an entirely new segment of aviation, and that NextGen has fundamentally changed the way pilots use airspace. Through it all, he said General Aviation has been an important partner in the process.

Huerta said that BasicMed will be instrumental in helping to maintain the pilot population, and that the FAA is not the enemy in the medical certification process. "More than 14,000 people have already completed their online training and are now allowed to fly under basic med." He said that interacting with the FAA's medical team is not the first step towards losing one's license. "We approve the vast majority of requests we receive for special medical issuance certificates are approved. So we are not adversaries, we want you to be able to keep flying," he said.

Huerta reiterated that the ADS-B out deadline will not be extended beyond December 31, 2019, and that all aircraft that fly in controlled airspace on January 1, 2020 will need to be equipped with ADS-B out. So owners should consider equipping now, rather than wait for prices to go down or the next new thing to be introduced. "If everyone waits until the last possible minute, we are not going to have the capacity within the repair stations and service facilities to actually get it done. What we really need to focus on is 'let's get on with this' and get this technology installed."

The Administrator said that about 12,000 of its $500 ADS-B installation rebates are still available, and the program expires September 18.

Huerta said that recent changes allowing non-certified avionics to be installed in certified airplanes, and the Part 23 changes which go into effect next month, represent a new way of thinking for the agency. "And as we collaborate with more manufacturers and open up new pathways to approval, it's only going to get easier and faster for us to continue doing so in the years ahead."

Huerta waited until asked specifically about ATC privatization to address that elephant in the room. He acknowledged that the airlines had their position, while the GA position is very different. He said there is a broader consideration in the debate. "My advice to everyone in that is that we need to be thinking about what is going to work for the whole community. Not what is going to work for MY segment of the community. And that just means that we need to invest the time and the effort to fully understand where everyone else is coming from and see where there are opportunities to reach agreement."

Lastly, also in response to a question, Huerta said the decision about Santa Monica was essentially one about allowing a community to make its own decisions about whether and where to have an airport, in compliance with the rules established for federal funding of those airports. The way that the agreement between the city and the FAA is structured, he said, buys some time for the airport. "The airport will continue to operate as an airport, but perhaps with a shorter runway, but where the case needs to be made, in terms of the value of having an airport in Santa Monica long-term is not with the FAA it's with the people of Santa Monica who need to let their elected officials know that this is something that is important to the local community there."

Huerta's term as FAA Administrator ends in January of 2018, but he said that in the future, he will likely return to Oshkosh as a fan of these "wonderful, gravity-defying machines."

FMI: www.faa.gov


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