Michael P. Huerta is the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. He was sworn in to office on January 7, 2013, for a five-year term and is responsible for the safety and efficiency of the largest aerospace system in the world. He oversees a $16.3 billion dollar budget and more than 47,000 employees.
During his tenure, Huerta has worked to redefine the FAA's regulatory relationship with the aviation industry to achieve greater levels of safety through increased collaboration and widespread sharing of data. He also has led the agency's efforts to modernize the nation's air traffic control system through the NextGen program while preparing the way for the safe integration of commercial space operations and small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
Since the beginning of Huerta's term, the FAA has completed key building blocks of NextGen, including the installation of modern information systems to serve as the backbone for future technological improvements. The FAA also completed the installation of a comprehensive network of ground-based radio stations that enable the use of Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) instead of radar to better manage air traffic. In addition, the agency has made significant progress in harnessing GPS technology to modernize thousands of air traffic routes in congested airspace. The FAA expects NextGen to deliver an estimated $134 billion in direct airline, industry and passenger benefits by 2030. NextGen is already reducing the environmental footprint of aviation through significant reductions in fuel consumption as aircraft use these more efficient routes.
Under Huerta's leadership, the FAA eliminated a decades-old ban on the use of Personal Electronic Devices aboard airplanes, making it possible for passengers to use many devices from gate to gate.
Most recently, Huerta led the agency's efforts to integrate small UAS into the busiest and most complex airspace in the world. In late 2015, the FAA developed and put into a place a registration system that enables the agency to keep track of this growing segment of aviation while ensuring that new operators are provided with important safety information. The agency collaborated with a growing number of commercial operators and hobbyists to develop and issue a set of sensible regulations that will ensure safety and create an environment that fosters innovation, exhibited most recently in the rule for small unmanned aircraft.
Under Huerta's leadership, the FAA continues to build on the unparalleled safety record of the U.S. aviation industry by harnessing the power of safety data gathered with each commercial flight. In 2015, the FAA built upon its already successful collaboration with the airline industry to adopt a new Compliance Philosophy that relies on risk-based decision making to identify and correct problems in the National Airspace System before they result in an accident or incident. This system relies on an open and transparent exchange of information between the FAA and the industry that is seen as the next evolution in improving safety.
Huerta is an experienced transportation official who held a number of key positions before coming to the FAA. He was a Managing Director of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games focusing on the planning and construction of a variety of Olympic transportation facilities, as well as the development of a highly successful travel demand management system that ensured the transportation system operated safely and efficiently.
Before joining the FAA as Deputy Administrator in June 2010, Huerta held senior positions at Affiliated Computer Services from 2002 to 2009, rising to the position of President of the Transportation Solutions Group; ACS is now a Xerox company specializing in business processes and information technology.
Huerta was commissioner of New York City's Department of Ports, International Trade and Commerce from 1986 to 1989. He then served as the Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco from 1989 to 1993. From 1993 to 1998, he held senior positions in the U.S. Transportation Department in Washington, D.C., serving under Secretary Federico Pena and Secretary Rodney E. Slater.
He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California-Riverside and a master's in public affairs, with a concentration in international relations, from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.