Randy Babbitt resigned Tuesday as head of the Federal Aviation Administration Administrator following his arrest for drunk driving.
In a statement posted on the FAA Web site, Babbitt said it had been “an absolute honor and the highlight of my professional career” to serve as head of the agency, but said he is “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,” 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.
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