President Biden nominates Mike Whitaker as next FAA Administrator

Yes­ter­day, Pres­i­dent Joe Biden announced his intent to nom­i­nate Michael Whitak­er, cur­rent­ly the chief oper­at­ing offi­cer of Super­nal, to serve as Admin­is­tra­tor of the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion (FAA).

Super­nal is a Hyundai Motor Group com­pa­ny design­ing an elec­tric advanced air mobil­i­ty (AAM) vehi­cle. In this role, Whitak­er over­sees all com­mer­cial and key busi­ness oper­a­tions.

Whitak­er served as Deputy Admin­is­tra­tor at the FAA from 2013–2016, where he brought indus­try and gov­ern­ment togeth­er to dri­ve the suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion of the nation’s air traf­fic con­trol sys­tem from radar to a satel­lite-enabled sur­veil­lance tech­nol­o­gy (ABS‑B).

Pri­or to Super­nal and his tenure at the FAA, Whitak­er served as Group CEO of Inter­Globe Enter­pris­es, India’s largest trav­el con­glom­er­ate and oper­a­tor of its largest and most suc­cess­ful air­line, Indi­Go, where he over­saw strat­e­gy and oper­a­tions for four affil­i­ate trav­el com­pa­nies.

Whitak­er also spent 15 years at Unit­ed Air­lines in a vari­ety of roles as Direc­tor, Vice Pres­i­dent and Senior Vice Pres­i­dent, which includ­ed com­mer­cial alliances and joint ven­tures, inter­na­tion­al and reg­u­la­to­ry affairs, and strate­gic coun­sel to the Chair­man and CEO on inter­na­tion­al mat­ters.

Whitak­er began his more than three-decade avi­a­tion career as a lit­i­ga­tor, then as Assis­tant Gen­er­al Coun­sel of inter­na­tion­al and reg­u­la­to­ry affairs at Trans World Air­lines (TWA). He is a pri­vate pilot and holds a juris doc­tor­ate degree from George­town Uni­ver­si­ty Law Cen­ter. He serves on the board of the Flight Safe­ty Foun­da­tion, a non­prof­it that pro­motes avi­a­tion safe­ty glob­al­ly.

In addi­tion to lead­ing the FAA’s NextGen pro­gram while deputy admin­is­tra­tor, Whitak­er also stood up the agency’s Unmanned Air­craft Sys­tems Inte­gra­tion Office, the first FAA organ­i­sa­tion ded­i­cat­ed to UAS oper­a­tions in the Nation­al Air­space Sys­tem.

The Nation­al Busi­ness Avi­a­tion Asso­ci­a­tion (NBAA) wel­comed the Biden administration’s nom­i­na­tion of Michael Whitak­er to serve as the next FAA per­ma­nent admin­is­tra­tor.

NBAA Pres­i­dent and CEO Ed Bolen said: “Mike Whitak­er has long been an out­spo­ken avi­a­tion safe­ty advo­cate and cham­pi­on of inno­va­tion in the indus­try, who demon­strat­ed dur­ing his time as Deputy Admin­is­tra­tor at the FAA that he is a proven leader who deliv­ers results. We enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly sup­port his con­fir­ma­tion as FAA admin­is­tra­tor.”

Gen­er­al Avi­a­tion Man­u­fac­tur­ers Asso­ci­a­tion (GAMA) pres­i­dent and CEO Pete Bunce added: “The FAA, the civ­il avi­a­tion indus­try and the Amer­i­can fly­ing-pub­lic deserve a leader with expe­ri­ence in man­ag­ing large organ­i­sa­tions and an avi­a­tion back­ground to devel­op an avi­a­tion sys­tem that is safer, more effi­cient and tech­no­log­i­cal­ly advanced.

“Hav­ing worked with Whitak­er in his pre­vi­ous role as FAA deputy admin­is­tra­tor, we are con­fi­dent that his inti­mate knowl­edge of how the agency func­tions and inter­faces with the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, Con­gress and the indus­try will improve his abil­i­ty to nav­i­gate the chal­lenges now fac­ing the FAA. We also believe that Whitak­er and Katie Thom­son, recent­ly appoint­ed as deputy admin­is­tra­tor, will be a strong lead­er­ship team for the agency.”

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Jason Pritchard

Jason Pritchard is the Editor of eVTOL Insights. He holds a BA from Leicester's De Montfort University and has worked in Journalism and Public Relations for more than a decade. Outside of work, Jason enjoys playing and watching football and golf. He also has a keen interest in Ancient Egypt.

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