Trump’s Personal Pilot Isn’t as Bad an Idea to Head the FAA as You Think

The aviation world was apoplectic this week at the suggestion that President Trump’s personal pilot John Dunkin could be named to head the FAA. It may have just been payback for the FAA eliminating navigation waypoints named for Trump in 2015. However Trump has been on record for awhile saying the agency should be headed by a pilot.

I loved the traditional way concern over such a nomination evolved,

Some senior lawmakers have questioned whether he’s qualified to run an agency with more than 45,000 employees and a budget of more than $16 billion.

In contrast I actually liked the idea, just to be able to say that air travel runs on Dunkin.

John Dunkin isn’t the person you’d pick if you were looking for the best possible bureaucratic managerial talent, or the person with the most experience, whose job it would be to develop and lead an agenda for the agency.

However he’s exactly the person you’d pick if you were looking for someone to take orders from Old Executive Office Building and represent them in front of the agency. In other words, he’s loyal to the administration and would do what he’s told. And there aren’t too many people not under special counsel investigation that are on that list.

The agency itself is staffed with professionals who would continue to do there job no matter who is named as administrator. Claims that such an appointment show ‘disregard for air safety’ are just silly, almost akin to Trump’s own claim that commercial planes don’t crash because of him.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. As a pilot, I think the FAA has a terrible reputation in the way they treat their airmen. I have never personally been treated poorly by the FAA, but a lot of their processes are terrible and there is a motto:

    The FAA: We are not happy until you are not happy!

    Something has to change and I’m sure this guy wont do it.

  2. If, as you say, there are more qualified people out there, then yes, Trump is absolutely not living up to his responsibilities as chief executive. And this is not the Ambassadorship to the Vatican, this position is charged with leading the organization that ensures the safety of air traffic passengers.

  3. So, if I’m understanding your position correctly, you think that putting Trump’s personal pilot in charge of the entire FAA is a good idea for two reasons:

    1) He’s a pilot
    2) He’s a Trump “yes-man”

    …wow, the bar has gotten so low, I didn’t know it could even go even lower still… There is definitely a case to be made for putting a pilot in charge, but there are absolutely many other much more qualified pilots that would be better suited for this position. But saying that he would be good for the position simply because he would do whatever Trump says? Seriously??? That’s worked out so well for the EPA thus far… I’m sorry, but this is the most absurd argument I’ve ever heard.

  4. Tom, you forgot his third strong point, that he’s not (yet) known to be under investigation by the Special Counsel! 😛

  5. Is this supposed to be satire? I can’t tell.

    I hope so, because hiring somebody to be the CEO of a $16B/year government agency who has zero experience in the administration of a government agency is a *stunningly* stupid idea.

    Agencies do not operate themselves. In the absence of leadership, they continue on the same course they were before, like a rudderless ship, whether that is pointed to the rocks or the sea.

  6. @Greg: but you voted for a community organizer to be POTUS. What had BHO run that fit your personal qualification standards?

  7. How about Jarred Kushne run the FAA? Im not sure Jared has the time. He’s very busy bringing piece to the Middle East and negotiating on our behalf. Maybe Ivanka?

  8. @Frank Borman And you apparently voted for someone who had bankrupted multiple enterprises, but that wasn’t my point, which was not partisan, just American.

    This would have been profoundly stupid regardless of who did it. Off the top of my head I can’t think of someone so profoundly unqualified having served in Obama’s administration, or Bush, or Clinton, or Bush, etc., but I’m open to suggestions.

  9. I’ve yet to hear how he is not qualified.

    A pilot heading the FAA isn’t a bad idea. He might even have some insight that perhaps a career pencil pushing bureaucrat does not.

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