The Wall Street Journal
By ANDY PASZTOR
Dec. 16, 2016 6:51 p.m. ET
Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta on Friday issued the strongest signal yet that he seeks Trump administration endorsement of his leadership and bent for industry-friendly regulation, aiming to stay through the end of his statutory term in 2018.
Announcing the final version of long-awaited rules overhauling government certification of new private aircraft, Mr. Huerta highlighted their focus on reducing time and expense to market enhanced safety features.
The FAA started drafting the changes years ago in consultation with plane and equipment manufacturers, long before the primary campaigns or November election, but the principles are in line with President-elect Donald Trump’s views of more accommodating oversight of businesses by federal authorities across the board.
During his remarks to reporters, Mr. Huerta also indicated he has no plans to voluntarily leave before his term is set to expire in January 2018. “I am really looking forward to the next year,” Mr. Huerta said, noting that “we have a lot of things we can be proud of” in terms of FAA accomplishments.
The major initiatives Mr. Huerta hopes to complete include efforts to expand commercial operations of drones, and accelerate deployment of new air-traffic control technologies intended to reduce airline delays while reducing aircraft fuel consumption and environmental impacts.
Friday’s announcement caps FAA efforts to streamline and simplify regulations as a way to revive private aircraft manufacturing in the U.S. The FAA chief said the rules, slated to go into effect next summer, are expected to serve as a model to reform other agency programs and safety initiatives that may be “held back by outdated and inflexible” regulations, often drafted decades ago.
Calling it a fundamental shift in how the FAA promotes safer aircraft while simultaneously reducing the burden on industry, Mr. Huerta said the agency no longer wants to tell “manufacturers how to build a safe airplane.” Instead, FAA officials will concentrate on evaluating whether new designs and products meet broad safety standards.
Such an approach, according to FAA leaders, ensures agency expertise and resources are directed at achieving results and can be shifted as safety threats change. The latest rule, for instance, relies on compliance through consensus-based industry methods and technologies.
“This is not the last of these” type of rules “you are going to see,” Mr. Huerta predicted, without elaborating.
Industry officials have singled out helicopters as another area where similar changes could facilitate progress, by reducing the cost, time and risk of introducing enhanced safety features.
Echoing some of Mr. Trump’s themes, Mr. Huerta said the small aircraft rules highlight “what we can accomplish for American competitiveness” when government and industry work closely together. He zeroed in on another Trump idea: the benefits of creating jobs in America to sell products abroad.
But Mr. Huerta could face big challenges to remaining on the job. He may be saddled with a new team of politically-appointed aides, and his policy initiatives must be cleared by both the Transportation Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget.
If Mr. Huerta becomes frustrated by friction with Mr. Trump’s team, some associates and industry officials predict he could change his mind and exit early. Neither Mr. Trump nor his transition officials have commented on their plans for the FAA.
In his remarks, Mr. Huerta suggested proposed rules allowing small commercial drones to fly over populated areas will be released soon --perhaps before the end of the year—noting they are undergoing “a lot of review.”
Original article can be found here: http://www.wsj.com