Our long national nightmare is over: By a vote of 98-0, the U.S. Senate on October 24 confirmed Michael Whitaker to a five-year term as FAA Administrator. The position had been vacant since Steve Dickson resigned on March 31, 2022, and was filled by a succession of acting administrators.
This won’t be Whitaker’s first rodeo at 800 Independence Avenue: He served as the agency’s deputy administrator and chief NextGen officer from 2013 to 2016. Since leaving the agency, he has held executive positions in the advanced air mobility industry segment.
According to AOPA, he “began his career as an attorney for Trans World Airlines in New York and Washington, then spent 15 years at United Airlines in Chicago, where he served as senior vice president of alliances, international and regulatory affairs.” Whitaker holds a private pilot certificate.
The EPA Issues Its Avgas Endangerment Finding
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on October 18 released its long-anticipated determination that “lead from aircraft that operate on leaded fuel cause or contribute to air pollution” and endanger public health and welfare. The finding is the latest milestone in the two-decade-long policy development that eventually will result in the elimination of tetraethyl lead from the aviation gasoline used by most piston-powered aircraft. “The science is clear: exposure to lead can cause irreversible and life-long health effects in children,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in a release announcing the finding. “Aircraft that use leaded fuel are the dominant source of lead emissions in our air.”
That same press release highlighted the joint FAA/industry program “Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions,” or EAGLE, which was stood up in early 2022 and “aims to achieve a lead-free aviation system no later than 2030,” and noted the FAA has approved the General Aviation Modifications, Inc. (GAMI), G100UL unleaded 100 octane fuel. The endangerment finding does not ban or impose restrictions on 100LL or establish any new controls regarding aircraft lead emissions.