From 2013-2016, during the Obama administration, Whitaker served at the FAA as the deputy administrator.
He began his career working at Trans World Airlines as a litigator as well as assistant general counsel of international and regulatory affairs. Over the course of 15 years, he worked in various positions at United Airlines, including as a senior vice president. Whitaker also worked at the Indian travel conglomerate and operator of the airline IndiGo, InterGlobe Enterprises, as CEO. Currently, Whitaker works at Supernal as its chief operating officer. A Hyundai Motor Group company, Supernal is developing an electric advanced air mobility vehicle.
Whitaker is a board member of the nonprofit Flight Safety Foundation, which promotes aviation safety globally. He is also a private pilot.
In March 2022, Trump-appointed administrator Steve Dickson left the position and since then the FAA has not had an administrator. With no FAA administrator, responding to air travel problems has fallen to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
In March, Biden’s previous nominee Phil Washington withdrew his nomination amid criticism over his lack of aviation experience as well as his potential legal entanglements. Democrats did not have enough support to move his nomination out of committee.
In June, Biden named deputy transportation secretary Polly Trottenberg as the interim administrator of the FAA.
The move to nominate Whitaker comes as the FAA continues to deal with high-profile mishaps such as the national flight grounding in January. There has also been an increase in close calls at airports around the United States including one between a Cessna Citation 560X business jet and a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 at the airport in San Diego in August. Since January, seven runway incursion events have occurred that are being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
There is also currently a shortage of air traffic controllers.
Copyright 2023, USNewsMag.com