The White House is considering naming Secor D. Browne, former chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, as special ambassador to negotiate a new air services agreement with Japan, informed sources said yesterday.
It was during Browne's tenure at the Board - from October 1969 to February 1973 - that the board embarked on many of the policies and procedures that have led the Ford and Carter administrations to seek a revision to the 1938 statue under which the Board operates.
Browne last year testified before the Senate Commerce Committee against legislation to reduce federal regulation of the airline industry, legislation the Carter administration has strongly backed.
"It is my view that the proposed bill is unsound in it, basic assumptions and will prove adverse to the public interest in its effects on the civil air transport system . . ." Browne testified.
"I really think that we are looking at the wrong directions," he said. "The airline problems are now due to the fact that the product is not priced to give anything like the proper return on investment that would expect in any other business.
"The fare structure should provide adequate yield for an economically viable system capable of operating, expanding and equipping itself, not a yield vitiated by bureaucratic fudge-factors, and carrier competitive harakari.
While Browne was chairman of the board the agency embarked on the controversial and now-discredited "route moratorium" during which it declined to hear any airline applications for new routes, as well as policies sanctioning agreements where carriers agreed on which routes to end competition and where to jointly reduce the numbers of flights they were operating between the same cities.
Although Browne denied ever instituting the "route moratorium" and no board announcement was ever made, the CAB's chief administrative law judge told the Senate Administrative Practice and Procedures Subcommittee during its hearings on the board that there was an unofficial route that he had been given "informal instructions from the chairman's office" moratorium.
However, Browne admitted and defended making speeches decrying the financial health of the industry and warning the carriers against adding to their route systems.
Browne, 61, was an aeronautical engineer; he now heads a consulting firm here. He could not be reached for comment.
The Japanese are seeking a new agreement similar to one recently negotiated with the British by special Ambassador Alan S. Boyd, also a former CAB chairman. That agreement is the subject of some controversy and several legal challenges to its valadity are expected.