By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
The nation's chief defense-industry lobbying group has selected Marion C. Blakey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, as its new chief executive.
Industry officials confirmed yesterday that Blakey will head the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), replacing John W. Douglass, 66, who is retiring. Late yesterday, the association made the announcement official.
Blakey is the latest of several top administration officials to depart as President Bush's term winds to a close. Last week, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove announced that he would leave at the end of the month.
In her new job, which is to start in November, Blakey will be the most prominent spokesperson to the federal government for the makers of commercial aircraft and for contractors to the Pentagon. Founded in 1919 -- only a few years after the birth of man-made flight -- the AIA, based in Arlington, concentrates on three areas: civil aviation, space and national security.
The AIA represents the nation's largest manufacturers and suppliers of civil, military and business aircraft; unmanned aerial vehicles; space systems; aircraft engines, missiles and related components; aerospace services; and information technology. Its early members included aerospace pioneers Orville Wright and Glenn Curtiss.
Blakey, 59, has had a long career in the transportation industry, both inside and outside government. She was sworn in as FAA administrator in September 2002. The FAA oversees aviation safety and operates the world's largest air-traffic-control system. Her term ends next month.
Before heading the FAA, Blakey chaired the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates civil aviation accidents and significant accidents on railroads, highways and pipelines. It also recommends changes that would prevent accidents.
In 1992 and 1993, Blakey was administrator of the Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which made her the country's leading highway safety official. From 1993 to 2001, she ran Blakey & Associates, now Blakey & Agnew, a public affairs consulting firm in the District, with a particular focus on transportation issues.
Douglass, a former assistant secretary of the Navy and Air Force brigadier general and an expert in systems acquisition, became chief executive of the AIA in September 1998. He announced his intention to retire in May.
A search for his successor was conducted by the Washington office of Korn/Ferry International, an executive-search firm.
Blakey's successor at the FAA has not been named. But administration officials discussed with members of Congress the possibility of naming Barbara Barrett, a former deputy FAA administrator under President Ronald Reagan and the wife of Craig R. Barrett, chairman of Intel.
Staff writer Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this report.