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Biden announces Michael Whitaker as FAA pick

<i>Andrew Harnik/AP</i><br/>President Joe Biden intends to nominate Michael Whitaker (see here in June 2015) as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration
Andrew Harnik/AP
President Joe Biden intends to nominate Michael Whitaker (see here in June 2015) as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration

By Betsy Klein, CNN

(CNN) — President Joe Biden intends to nominate Michael Whitaker as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, the White House announced Thursday.

Whitaker has previously served as deputy administrator of the agency and is “currently the chief operating officer of Supernal, a Hyundai Motor Group company designing an electric advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicle,” the White House said in a statement.

He also worked at InterGlobe Enterprises, an Indian travel conglomerate, as well as United Airlines and Trans World Airlines. Whitaker is a private pilot and holds a law degree, according to the White House.

The nomination comes as Congress is scrambling to reauthorize funding for the FAA.

Biden’s previous pick to lead the agency, Phil Washington, withdrew his nomination in March amid strong criticism from Republican lawmakers over a number of issues, including his slim aviation credentials and his potential legal entanglements. The White House also didn’t have the support of enough Democrats to move Washington’s nomination out of committee.

A top union representing flight attendants praised the pick and called for a swift confirmation.

“We congratulate Mike Whitaker on his nomination for FAA Administrator. We support the President’s decision and call on the Senate to move to swift confirmation,” Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson said in a statement.

United Airlines also praised the move, highlighting Whitaker’s experience, in which he spent 15 years at the airline in a variety of roles.

“Now more than ever, the FAA needs strong leadership. We are pleased that Michael Whitaker has been nominated for this critical role and look forward to working with him to improve our aviation system for our employees and customers. Mike has deep aviation expertise and a solid reputation as a problem solver. We urge the U.S. Senate to move swiftly on his confirmation process,” United Airlines spokesperson Sam Coleman said in a statement.

The last Senate-confirmed administrator, Steve Dickson, stepped down in March 2022. Polly Trottenberg, the deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation, has been leading the FAA in an acting capacity since June.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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