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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Babbitt Resigns

Michael Huerta
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt resigned on Tuesday, following a weekend arrest in Fairfax, Va., for driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to a statement posted to the FAA Website on Tuesday, Babbitt, who was named to the agency's top post in 2009, submitted his resignation to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and it has been accepted. Babbitt has been suspended following a incident on Sunday where he was pulled over by police for driving on the wrong side of a four-lane road about nine miles from his home.

"Serving as FAA Administrator has been an absolute honor and the highlight of my professional career. But I am unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by my colleagues at the FAA," according to the statement.

FAA Deputy Administration Michael Huerta will serve as interim administrator. According to some reports, Huerta will likely remain in the post until next year, with President Obama seeking to avoid a possible nomination fight before the Nov. 6 presidential election. In his role as deputy administrator, Huerta was overseeing FAA's multi-billion dollar NextGen air traffic control modernization program.

"We are a very large, very complex operating organization and we have a big technological challenge in front of us. That’s my background, implementing large technology systems for transportation organizations," Huerta told Avionics Magazine last year. (More: "FAA’s New Deputy Administrator Discusses Challenges Of NextGen Transition")

The resignation of Babbitt comes at a critical time for NextGen as the agency faces a budget crunch and technology implementation roadblocks for the modernization project.

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