Large scale mgt experience - please stay non political

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by murphey, Feb 10, 2017.

  1. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Let us assume an ATP, one with decades of experience in a variety of aircraft for a single company. Does this person have the management experience and background to deal with a bureaucracy the size of the FAA? We're talking working contractors such as Boeing, Lockmart, Northrop, etc as well as civil service (roughly 48,000) and Congress? Plus working with the current and/or next Secretary of Transportation and the DOD?

    Next question - what qualifications do you want in the next FAA administrator?
     
  2. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Just being a pilot is not very good qualifications for running a large agency. Historically, the FAA administrators were people like high ranking military officers or airline execs whose jobs involve a lot of managerial component. Of late, with the exception of Randy Babbitt, they've all been career bureaucrats though many had some prior transportation experience.

    I've not had any personal contact with an FAA administrator since the time I almost decked Marion Blakey at a black-tie dinner. We've joked about it since.
     
  3. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter

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    Question #1. I know many pilots who fit the first description and I would say none of them would be qualified to be the FAA Administrator.

    Question #2. I would like to see someone with managerial experience on a large scale, either from the government or private sector. But I would also like that person to have some operational experience.
     
  4. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Much of the job these days is politics. A professional bureaucrat or professional politician have skills needed for the "policy" part of the job - dealing with the White House, the Hill, and the various letter organizations is what keeps them busy.

    Professional management experience is needed one-step-down. But even there, the government is enough different from corporations that there is a steep learning curve. Not to say it can't be done, just that it is harder. Knowing how to get things done, and what to kiss & when is important.

    As for an airline pilot stepping in at the secondary level, I think some could, especially those that served as Chief Pilot and/or union heads. That will get some concerns raised as the agency is supposed to be run for all, not just the airlines (and how that's done is one of the issues today).
     
  5. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    It would be nice if the person had experience in the system as a pilot but I think a small business owner who has experience dealing with over regulation could also help by cleaning up the regs. As long as the FAA believes that paperwork makes planes fly GA will continue to suffer.
     
  6. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    I'd think someone with experience as a director for a large metro airport, preferably with some other management experience outside of aviation as well, would be a good candidate.

    That would be someone who understands that the core problem with commercial aviation in the US is a lack of metro-area runways.
     
  7. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    This a BIG trap for ANY business owner...I have discovered the hard way and learned...just because a person is good at a specific task or execution of any job, that does NOT mean that are capable of running a business that does that same task. Running a business...or bureaucracy...is a whole different skill set than being able to perform a task effectively.

    This is the trap that many contractors and individuals fall into. They think that just because they are good at building houses they will be good at running a business that builds houses..nothing could be further from the truth...it is a whole different skill set. Now you do need some familiarity with the industry, but just being an expert in an specific area does not equate to business management success.

    The most successful are those that start the company then hand over the business management to a qualified CEO while the founder focuses on what they do best.
     
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  8. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I think it depends on the ATP. He learned that job he may be able to lean this job.
     
  9. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    That was supposed to be Jane Garvey's skill set.
     
  10. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Pattern Altitude

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    My vote is for a controller who is also a pilot to take over....where do I sign up? I need to knock the ATP out anyway ;)
     
  11. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    Ok, good point. I'll go with answer "B" then, an artificial intelligence robot. If you're going to put a mindless bureaucrat in the job, it might as well actually be a "mindless bureaucrat"...
     
  12. old cfi

    old cfi Pre-takeoff checklist Gone West

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    I'm only responding to the 2nd question -- I would like to see the next head of the FAA be someone who has been involved in both sides of the fence - 121 and GA. Along with that, someone who would surround him/herself with a committee of people from all facets of aviation and be willing to rule by committee and not be a "my way or the highway" person. Think aviation is too diversified for one person to have all the right and sensible answers hence ruling by committee might offer a melting pot of ideas that hopefully could be molded into the best solution. Just my idea on the subject.

    Of course, the big problem with the government is that it does things at a snail's pace. That has to change. For years things implemented have pretty much been outdated by the time it gets done. All the studies and surveys for change are wasted revenue because of delays.
     
  13. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes, very true.
     
  14. Flyhound

    Flyhound Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Having worked in DC in the Senior Executive Service under 2 different administrations, it is my opinion that neither technical proficiency, nor large corporate management positions prepare one adequately for a high level position in government. The political agendas spun in Washington make that world different than anything in the private sector. Yes, senior corporate officials have to deal with internal company politics, but that is a very different can of worms than dealing with Congress and the expectations of the administration you serve at the pleasure of. I thought my job there would be as a senior technical manager with some political undertones, but it wound up being almost exclusively a political job with slight technical underpinnings. If a nominee doesn't know how to work the hill, they will spend their entire term of office fighting an uphill battle regardless of how technically proficient they are. Washington is a petty town with lots of centers of power. Getting all of the forces at play to align and allow a senior administration official to move forward with any agenda is a daunting task. The hyper-partisanship of recent years makes it an even more complicated process, regardless of which side of the fence you are on. I equate my time in Washington to seeing how sausage is made. I don't enjoy sausage anymore. I choose my ongoing technical opportunities as a consultant now to avoid all political engagement.
     
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  15. Acrodustertoo

    Acrodustertoo Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I don't give a rats ass what qualifications they expect for the position. I care that the new hire is someone with common sense and a desire to get things done.

    The most dangerous words ever spoken are :"this is how we've always done it"

    These agencies are so clogged with self serving idiots that nothing ever gets done. Separate the wheat from the chaff.
     
  16. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I understand you FlyHound, but the Administrator isn't really in the same class as the bulk of the SES. They have deputies who usually come up through the ranks who have the bureaucratic experience. Only Lynne Osmus came up through the FAA ranks, Huerta was the deputy administrator. At least my sparring partner had been the NTSB chair.

    Here's roughly what we've had over the years:

    Quesada- AF Lt. General
    Halaby - Navy Test Pilot (went on to be CEO of PanAm after the FAA)
    McKee - AF (four star) General, NASA assistant administrator
    Shaffer - AF Lt. Col (decorated), CEO of TRW
    Butterfield - AF Col., aid to the Halderman in the Nixon White House
    McLucas - Navy officer, VP of HRB, Director of the NRO, Secretary of the AF, president of Mitre
    Bond - Illinois Secy of Transporatoin
    Helms - Marine Lt. Col, Engineer, President of Norden and Piper
    Engen - Navy vice admiral, Test Pilot, Piper Lakeland manager, NTSB board (went on to be director of the National Air and Space Museum)
    McArtor - AF pilot, Thunderbirds pilot, Fedex senior management,
    Busey - Navy admiral
    Richards - AF General
    Hinson - Navy pilot, NW pilot, direct at Hughes Airwest, founder/chairment of Miday Airlines, EVP of McDonnell Douglas [Looks cool in a Duke]
    Garvey - Highway safety administrator, director of Logan airport
    Blakey - NHTSA administrator, various other jobs in the federal bureaucracy, NTSB chairman
    Sturgill - Navy pilot, United pilot/supervisor, failed run at state senate
    Osmus - FAA in various positions
    Babbitt - Eastern Airlines Pilot, ALPA founder and president
    Huerta - NY Port commissioner, ED of Port of San Francisco, Senior DOT position, acting secy of transportation, deputy FAA admin

    Note that Sturgill, Osmus, and Babbitt only served as acting administrator.

    Actually, of all the recent ones, I liked Randy Babbitt the best. Alas, he was scuttled by a drunk driving arrest that was thrown out in court (both because there was no probable cause for the start and the fact that the BAC test was challenged.
     
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  17. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Babbitt was not a founder of ALPA. His father was. I think he works for SWA as a consultant and/or upper management now.
     
  18. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    You're right, Babbitt was only president of the union (which his father was a founder).

    He was head of labor relations for SW, but he's retired now.
     
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  19. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    "Oh...black-TIE dinner...I thought you said black EYE! "
     
  20. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ^^^^ This.

    Ron's comments are well taken, and the deputies handle a lot, but I put the Administrator position into the category of "political". The underlings/deputies handle much of the internal stuff, the administrator has to deal with outside pressure, too. Other agencies are different, but in the end it becomes working politics at the top.

    That's also true in the Association (non-profit) world, too. The larger ones have a COO that keep the trains running and the members as happy as possible, while the top position is more of a lobbyist. As much as some folks here rail about AOPA, Baker's role is more political than anything else.