FAA Administrator Meets EAA AirVenture Press

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FAA Administrator Randy BabbittMark Phelps

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt met the press yesterday at EAA AirVenture. He cited the primary areas of concern for GA pilots as safety, professionalism and how we will meet the needs of the coming NextGen air traffic control update. Babbitt said the first six months of the year have seen 120 fatal accidents. Though there have been improvements, Babbitt said, the targets for safer flying have not been met. He also noted that amateur-built aircraft were involved in 25 percent of all accidents last year, though they represent only 10 percent of the fleet. The administrator said the FAA has pledged to work with EAA and other groups to improve safety among this segment. "And this is the place to address these issues," he said. "We're all pilots here." On the subject of professionalism, Babbitt said the FAA cannot regulate that standard, but rather that all pilots need to strive for that quality in their flying — and levels of recurrent training. "Even tennis pros take lessons," he said. Finally, Babbitt addressed the expected benefits of upcoming NextGen innovations, and tried to ease pilots' fears on the costs of re-equipping. He said pilots will have the choice of either complying with the new equipment rules, or not flying in the restricted airspace. He said pilots likely do not expect to be using the same transponder in 10 years, so they might as well replace it with an ADS-B unit when the time comes.