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Thu, Jun 29, 2006

Will FAA's Blakey Replace Mineta As DOT Secretary?

Bush Said To Be Leaning That Way

Rumors are surfacing out of Washington, DC that Norman Mineta's imminent departure as head of the Department of Transportation could mean big things for current FAA Administrator Marion Blakey.

The conservative website Human Events Online reported Tuesday that Blakey is the odds-on favorite to succeed Mineta as Secretary of Transportation... and, that President Bush may be set to announce his decision by the end of the week.

It is not a completely surprising move. After all, Blakey has a formidable political background... as before her tenure at the FAA, Blakey served as chairman of the NTSB. She served in the Department of Commerce and the National Endowment for the Humanities under the first Bush administration.

What could such a move mean for general aviation, though? Well... it's hard to say at this point, but one potential ramification of having Blakey as head of the DoT has some pilots up in arms. The issue? User fees, of course... as Mineta was a very strong, very vocal opponent of imposing user fees on general and business aviation pilots and operators.

And Blakey? Well, in the past she's shown a more... pragmatic... attitude towards the fees, which the airlines are pushing the FAA to adopt in order to, they claim, better balance out the financial responsibility for the nation's air traffic control system.

Many opponents of user fees saw Mineta as a defender of their cause, keeping the user fee issue at bay. Now, with Blakey... or, for that matter, anyone else... at the helm of the DoT... they fear the monster may gain strength.

If Blakey were to move her office a few floors up, the obvious question is... who would replace her? Good question... and we have no names as of yet.

Of course... we don't know for certain that Blakey is going anywhere, either. Stay tuned.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.dot.gov

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