Randy Babbitt has resigned as chief of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration halfway through his five-year term after being placed on administrative leave following his December 3 arrest for drunken-driving. Deputy Administrator Michael Huerta replaces him.
“I submitted my resignation to Secretary Ray LaHood, and it has been accepted,” Babbitt said in a statement. “Serving as FAA Administrator has been an absolute honor and the highlight of my professional career. But I am 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.”
It’s been reported that police in Fairfax, Va., charged Babbitt with driving while intoxicated after allegedly spotting him driving on the wrong side of the road. Babbitt was then transported to a local detection center, where the police said he was over the legal alcohol limit. Babbitt will fight these allegations in court on February 2.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood suspended him on December 5 after learning of his arrest. LaHood spoke out about Babbitt’s resignation, praising him for his years of dedicated leadership.
“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,” LaHood said in a statement. “He worked tirelessly to improve relations with the labor community and bolstered employee engagement among his 49,000 colleagues at the FAA.
“He led the FAA’s efforts to improve pilot training and enhance safety for the traveling public, as well as those that work in aviation,” LaHood continued. “On behalf of the American people, I thank him for his service and his leadership.”