September 21, 2017  Last Update: December 21, 2016, 11:10 pm

High-Functioning, or Functioning High?

Alcohol played a role in Randy Babbitt's life, as well as the end of his FAA career.

After a plane crashes, its black box contains secrets that help to answer questions about how the crash could have happened. Where is Randy Babbitt’s black box?

Jerome Randolph Babbitt has been the head of the FAA since June, 2009. He has in excess of 25 years flying experience. His 1995 “one level of safety” plan was used to improve airline industry safety.

Babbitt "worked tirelessly to improve relations with the labor community and bolstered employee engagement among his 49,000 colleagues at the FAA. He led the FAAs efforts to improve pilot training and enhance safety for the traveling public, as well as those that work in aviation"

And on the evening of December 3rd he was pulled over by Fairfax City police for driving on the wrong side of the road. The reason? driving while intoxicated – DWI.

Crash and burn, Mr. Babbitt.

In the aftermath, Mr. Babbitt has resigned and the FAA Deputy Administrator, Michael Huerta, has taken over.

But what clues can we find in Randy Babbitt’s black box? It seems he had a very stressful job, and maybe not enough friends in high enough places.

If Randy Babbitt had a black box, would it reveal the role alcohol played in the crash of his FAA career?
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Under his watch, air traffic controllers have been fired for sleeping on the job. There have been near misses between planes – recently involving first lady Michelle Obama. The FAA is conducting internal investigations, and is experiencing pressure to submit to external oversight.

We are doing a top-to-bottom review. We think we are looking into this as thoroughly as we possibly can.
- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

Would a Randy Babbitt  black box reveal problems with the FAA’s NextGen program or the Eram project delays and budget overruns? A real problem with alcohol, or was this just a mistake? We do know one thing. If the stresses and pressures got to be too much, but ego and social pressures wouldn’t allow him to “quit”, he just got free, and no one died along the way. I think this time maybe we got lucky.

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Did alcohol provide an "out" for Randy Babbitt?
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Randy Babbitt resignation statement:

“Today I submitted my resignation to Secretary Ray LaHood and it has been accepted.  Serving as FAA Administrator has been an absolute honor and the highlight of my professional career.   But I am unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by my colleagues at the FAA.  They run the finest and safest aviation system in the world and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work alongside them.  I am confident in their ability to successfully carry out all of the critical safety initiatives underway and the improvements that the FAA has planned.  I also want to thank Secretary LaHood for his leadership and dedication to the safety of the traveling public.”

 

 

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