FAA’s Randy Babbitt resigns after drunk driving arrest

Randy Babbitt resigned Tuesday as head of the Federal Aviation Administration Administrator following his arrest for drunk driving.


FAA Chief Randy Babbitt. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

“They run the finest and safest aviation system in the world and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work alongside them,” Babbitt said. “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 [Transportation] Secretary [Ray] LaHood for his leadership and dedication to the safety of the traveling public.”

In a separate statement, LaHood said that Babbitt "has been a dedicated public servant and outstanding leader. I’m proud to say that we have the safest aviation system in the world, and thanks to Randy’s stewardship, it became safer and stronger."

Babbitt was arrested Saturday night by Fairfax City police after being spotted driving on the wrong side of Old Lee Highway, according to police.

Babbitt’s arrest information was made public in accordance with a Fairfax City police general order that says the arrest of public officials, including federal officials, for “any criminal charge or serious traffic charge (e.g. driving under the influence, reckless driving)” will be released.

White House and Transportation Department officials acknowledged privately that they didn’t learn of Babbit’s arrest until midday Monday after reporters contacted them seeking comment — a fact that they said would likely spur Babbit’s swift departure.

Babbitt requested administrative leave Monday and it was quickly granted.

Deputy FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has taken command of the federal agency.

Babbitt's resignation caps a tumultuous year for the FAA, which suffered through weeks of criticism following revelations last spring that at least nine air traffic controllers had fallen asleep on the job or were unresponsive to calls. Thousands of FAA inspectors were also furloughed over the summer amid congressional disagreements over funding for the agency.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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