US President Joe Biden has revealed his pick for the top job at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), announcing his intent to nominate former FAA deputy administrator Michael G Whitaker.

Whitaker, who is currently the COO for electric advanced air mobility vehicle developer Supernal, would become the agency’s first permanent administrator since April 2022, when Steve Dickson stepped down halfway through his term.

Before serving as deputy administrator under President Obama between 2013 and 2019, Whitaker had spent time as the Group CEO of InterGlobe Enterprises, the operator behind India’s largest airline IndiGo and in a variety of roles with United Airlines, including director and senior vice president.

The news was welcomed by politicians and industry figures alike, with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg releasing a statement saying: “America needs a confirmed FAA administrator and Mike Whitaker is the right leader for the job. He knows aviation, he knows safety, he knows the FAA and he knows how to manage and modernise large organisations.”

Buttigieg also called on the Senate to act quickly on Whitaker’s confirmation, saying: “Partisan political games must not get in the way of this process; the flying public has waited too long for a permanent leader at the FAA.”

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The sentiment was echoed by Nicholas E. Calio, the president and CEO of trade association Airline for America, who said he applauded the Biden administration’s nomination and urged “expeditious consideration” of Whitaker’s candidature: “A permanent, confirmed FAA Administrator is needed to provide leadership, stability and vision for the National Airspace System, which is becoming more complex and more important every day.

“As passenger travel continues to grow and Americans rely daily on cargo shipments, the system must keep up. New entrants, new technologies and innovations must be integrated into the system.”

The nomination of someone with FAA experience to the position is perhaps unsurprising following the withdrawal of Biden’s previous nominee Phillip A. Washington, the chief executive of Denver International Airport, after criticism around his perceived lack of aviation experience.

Whitaker’s nomination also comes at a key time for the agency, which has recently invested $121m into airports around the US to reduce the risk of runway incursions after several highly publicised near-miss incidents and a New York Times investigation that claimed that similar incidents were happening more frequently than previously thought.