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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Heli-Expo Show Day: FAA Chief to Visit Heli-Expo

PRESIDENT BUSH’S CHOICE TO BE the next head of the FAA is slated to visit Heli-Expo.

Robert Sturgell, nominated last October by Bush to succeed Administrator Marion Blakey, is to head up the contingent of FAA officials coming to Houston to discuss topics ranging from automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast to user fees.

Sturgell had served as deputy to Blakey before she left the aviation agency to take the helm at the Aerospace Industries Assn late last year. A former naval aviator, Sturgell was an instructor at the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School and flew the F-14, F-18, F-16 and A-4. Retired as a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserves, he is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Even before he has taken the helm of the agency, Sturgell has been surrounded by controversy.

The Senate delayed hearings to confirm his nomination, a requirement for the position, in part because some senators were unhappy with the FAA’s position in contract negotiations with the air traffic controllers’ union.

Sturgell also has been enmeshed in fighting over the FAA’s proposal to impose user fees for air traffic and other services it provides.

A special "Meet the Regulators" session with FAA officials is slated for Tuesday, Feb. 26.

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