Secretary Of Transportation Appears At Oshkosh As Well
By Tom Patton
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt made his second appearance in as
many days at AirVenture 2010 in Oshkosh on Thursday, but his "Meet
the Administrator" appearance this year was a bit of a letdown from
last year's strong showing.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt
The "Meet the Administrator" forum is an annual event at
AirVenture. Last year, in his first appearance since getting the
job, Babbitt fielded questions fairly candidly from EAA members who
packed Pavilion #7 on the EAA grounds to get a glimpse of the new
boss. This year, Babbitt seemed to deflect more questions than last
year, and deferred several to the cadre of FAA department heads
sitting in the first few rows.
Babbitt made his usual speech about safety and professionalism,
which have been ongoing memes for the administrator since taking
office. He again cited statistics for GA accidents ... 120
fatalities in GA in the first six months of 2010, which is an
improvement over 2009. But improving is not good enough, he said.
"The only acceptable accident rate is 0."
Babbitt again reminded the EAA members that he can't regulate
professionalism, and called on every pilot in the room to "look in
the mirror each time you fly, and ask yourself 'is this the person
I want flying me and my family."
Also appearing on the stage was Transportation Secretary Ray
LaHood, who made brief remarks supportive of GA. "DOT cares a great
deal about what you do, and the Oshkosh event. GA is an absolutely
critical part of our aviation system," LaHood said.
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood
The administrator left time at the end of the presentation for
some questions from EAA members, which were NOT interrupted by
local media asking about Tuesday's accident on the field (unlike
Tuesday's briefing at the media center) Some of the questions were
new. A member asking about a Class C airspace proposal in
Southern CA was told by the administrator that he would "look into"
the issue, saying he was not familiar with the details of the
specific proposal. Asked about user fees, Babbitt said that those
had been proposed by the previous administration, and had not been
included in the current budget proposed by the President. But as to
the possibility of fees being in the offing down the road, he said
that there was no way to know what might be in future budgets.
Babbitt And EAA's Tom Poberezny
But the administrator was also asked about some of the same
things Thursday as he had been a year ago. One of those was the
Through-The-Fence issue, which had been the topic of a lot of
discussion in 2009. To this question he was able to answer
specifically that he had visited about 25 airports where TTF is an
issue, that comments were being solicited at the current time, and
that he expects a final rule by the end of the summer. When asked
about fuel, Babbitt said again that the EPA is this lead agency on
the issue, and that the FAA is working with the environmental
regulators to find a drop-in fuel replacement to 100LL. He cited
the example of alternative jet fuels currently under evaluation
which are direct replacement to Jet A.
There were some instances in which Babbitt deferred the
questions to the FAA department heads who had traveled with him to
Oshkosh. Those employees encouraged the people asking the questions
to speak with them after the presentation to get more details about
Last year, Pavilion #7 was filled with an overflow crowd to hear
Babbitt speak. This year, about a quarter to a third of the seats
were empty. What ever the reason, it would appear that Babbitt
still has some distance to go to truly win over the EAA