Dan Rattiner's Stories

Nobody Home at FAA? It’s a Good Time for East Hampton Airport to Make New Rules

Grounding Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 jets shines light on this empty seat.

Doesn’t it seem odd that it was our President who announced that all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 jets should be grounded, rather than the head of the FAA?

There’s a reason for this. There is no head of the FAA. There is only a mid-level acting administrator. After Donald Trump became President and the sitting head of the FAA’s term ended, Trump said he’d ask his personal pilot—not the one who flies Air Force One, but the pilot who flies the aircraft that says TRUMP in gold letters on the side—to be the new chief.

This is in keeping with the sort of thing Trump does with all regulatory agencies—make them toothless by putting people at the top who do not know what they’re doing.

In this case, however, the Senate indicated it would never confirm such a nominee, so Trump never made the nomination. And he never made any other nomination. And so it is that currently the FAA is under the care of an acting administrator whose résumé features prior employment as a Washington lobbyist in the aircraft manufacturing business. As you can imagine, it is an agency without a rudder.

It’s also odd how Trump used the occasion of grounding these aircraft not to mourn for those several hundred people who died in the two crashes, but to hope not to have to mourn for Boeing. He seemed to be apologizing to Boeing. Here is how he phrased it.

“Boeing is an incredible company. They are working very, very hard right now and hopefully they’ll quickly come up with the answer…May God Bless the United States of America and May God Bless Boeing.”

Donald Trump has long admired Boeing. He’s visited the factories. A former Boeing CEO is now heading the Department of Defense. His former U.N. Ambassador was just named to the Boeing board. And a former Boeing top executive is running the Pentagon. As for the current CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, Trump has had him at Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago while bragging about having made a multi-plane deal to Vietnam—which Vietnam says is now in limbo.

Well, a week after the second crash, in spite of more than 40 countries temporarily grounding the Boeing Max, the FAA had still not done so in America. Boeing’s corporate well-being was more important than passenger safety, it seems. Finally, on Wednesday, when Canada announced it was also grounding the Boeing Max, it was the last straw. Trump had run out of excuses.

Without a responsible chief at the helm at the FAA, East Hampton Town might consider this a perfect time to put in place the noise control measures and curfews they want in place at East Hampton Airport. In the past, the FAA, which has to approve such plans, instead slapped them away. This time they might not even notice.

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