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Huerta Attends Last AirVenture as FAA Administrator

By Megan Esau

July 27, 2017 - FAA Administrator Michael Huerta spoke to an engaged audience at his Meet the Administrator forum Thursday at Theater in the Woods.

During his opening remarks, Huerta talked about the innovation he’s seen during his tenure as administrator and how the FAA plans to facilitate the growth of such innovative ideas going forward. He pointed to the redesign of Part 23 as setting standards for performance rather than dictating how things are manufactured, and to the recent approval of EAA’s STCs allowing safety-enhancing experimental equipment into type-certificated aircraft.

Huerta also discussed with EAA CEO and Chairman Jack J. Pelton how recent reorganization within the FAA will help innovative technologies make it to the market quickly and more efficiently than in the past.

“The problem with that is we had seen the manufacturing process begin to change a lot over the past couple of decades,” Huerta said. “And what that was setting up was a situation where we were having to work across directorates to have the expertise to formally evaluate what innovations and technologies are taking place. It takes too long, has too many layers, and what we were really focused on is reacting to whatever the industry puts in front of us.”

He said the new organizational structure will allow more collaboration with industry and innovators, who will now be able to come to the FAA with an idea and work together to get the product to the aviation marketplace.

As the forum was opened up to audience questions, much of the conversation shifted to general aviation’s ongoing battle against ATC privatization.

“My advice to everyone is we need to be thinking about what is going to work for the whole community, not what is working for my segment of the community,” Huerta said. “And that just means that we need to invest the time and the effort to fully understand where everyone else is coming from as part of this debate and see where there are opportunities to build bridges and reach agreements on how we’re going to solve this.”

He emphasized that much of the shortcomings in modernization efforts that the FAA has had have been directly related to the lack of stable and predictable funding from Congress, a challenge he said would make it hard for any organization to create progress.

Additionally, Huerta addressed the proliferation of unmanned aerial systems and how it has changed the definition of aviation drastically in the past five years, noting that in the future it will be up to the aviation community to help ensure safe integration of drones into the airspace.

Huerta closed his discussion with Pelton by circling back to his belief that partnership, even more so than innovation, is what has helped the FAA work with GA and other segments to solve problems and preserve America’s position as having the safest, most efficient, and most friendly airspace in the world.

“Yes, we have this debate raging on Capitol Hill,” he said. “Yes, we as a country may feel more divided than we’ve felt in many years, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’ve accomplished a great deal in aviation and we have done it because we have done it together. We have come together as government, as industry, as individuals all trying to figure out how we can do the greater good for this community that means so much to all of us.”

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