tv [untitled] June 21, 2012 9:30pm-10:00pm EDT
you stand. we're so happy you're here literally behind your wonderful dad and husband. i'm proud that a californian has been nominated, of course, by president obama. i won't be repetititive. he has a long history of service. it was confirmed unanimously by the senate. this is a tested gentleman. and the leadership roles he played at the port of san francisco at the salt lake city olympics as chief of staff for the secretary of transportation under the clinton administration will serve him well. i won't go into the task. we all know it. it's a huge job. and it's a life and death job. and so in closing, i want to just note and pay tribute to a number of family members of victims of the tragic crash of
flight 3407 near buffalo in 2010. they are here in the audience today. they are here to remind us all of what is at stake when it comes to the need for adequate safety regulations. and i know mr. wer ta carries that close to his heart and i believe his breath of experience in leadership make him an excellent choice to fill the role of administrator at the faa. i want to thank my friends on the committee, all of you, for this opportunity. and i look forward to a swift confirmation. >> thank you, senator boxer. thank you for being here this morning. appreciate your activity on the committee and the faa bill. now we'll turn to the -- unless the chairman wants to make a statement. we'll turn to the ranking member if she'd like to maik an opening statement.
>> i think that the presiding chairwoman said most of the important things. i do think that you have had a very good record in your time as acting deputy. you took over quite quickly, and i think there was a seamless transition. certainly next is the biggest thing on your plate. and we all are going to want to know what the setbacks are and how you're going to proceed forward. i do want to bring up another couple of things. number one is the u.s. office of special council wrote to congress raising concerns about ongoing safety lapses at the faa. some of which we certainly have read about in the newspapers with the air traffic controllers
and the council strongly recommended that more rigorous oversight measures be put in place at the department and the faa. secondly, the current federal budget realities require every agency to have cost-cutting measures. and i will want to hear what you're doing in that regard. so with that, let me say that i think you have stepped in big time at the faa and you have kept the trains running on time. so i will look forward to hearing your testimony and then asking you a few questions. >> thank you. mr. hur ta, if you could now make your statement. thank you for having your family with you this morning. >> thank you very much. i'd like to thank senator boxer for that generous introduction. it's an honor to appear before
you today as president clinton's nominee for administrator of the federal aviation administration. i'm humbled by this nomination and the opportunity it presents to serve our nation. i'd like to thank secretary lahood and also recognize my family members who were introduced who are with me today. my wife ann and son matthew and my sister rose visiting from california. of course, i'd also like to thank my late parents who i know are with me in spirit today. at the federal aviation, we operate the largest and safest aviation system in the world. the safety of the traveling public is our number one priority and it's our mission. we're constantly working to identify and to address potential risks long before there is a problem. we have achieved a greater level of collaboration with our workforce. congress has helped us in our efforts bypassing the
reauthorization earlier this year and i want to thank all of you, the members of this committee, for your role in this major accomplishment. the reauthorization gives the dedicates employees of the faa greater financial guidance and provides greater stability to all of our programs. all of this is vital to keeping the economic engine of civil aviation at full capacity. it helps expand on jobs and $1.3 trillion that it already contributes to the american economy each year. thank you again. now i would like to share a little about my background with you today. i have spent my entire career in transportation with rewarding professional experiences in both the public and the private sectors. i've held senior policy positions at the u.s. department of transportation under president clinton. there i gained valuable insight into the day-to-day operations of many federal agencies, including the faa. later i was a managing director for transportation with the salt lake olympic committee.
this experience taught me that in a movable deadline can be extremely powerful in motivating and focusing a team toward a common objective. more recently in the private sector, i lead a large transportation technology services company. i managed the operations of a global organization and a diverse and technical workforce to ensure we met our targets. i have a greater appreciation for partnerships between government and business. two years ago, i returned to the federal government where i have had the opportunity to serve as deputy administrator of the faa and now acting administrator. i'm honored that president obama nominated me to lead this great agency. in the last two years, i focused on positioning the faa to deliver the next generation air transportation system. we recently established a new organization within the agency to focus on implementing major technology programs. this will improve the coordination among all of our
initiatives helping them to usher to live operation. what we do over the next several years is going to determine the course of aviation in this country for decades to come. that's why it's critical that the faa work closely with congress, other government agencies, and all the components of the aviation industry and the communities they serve as we lay this foundation for the future. next jen is the told transformation of the way we handle air traffic. we're moving from radar to satellites, radios to data messages, and air waves to more direct routes. we need public/private collaboration to create this new way of doing business. next jen means enhanced safety, greater access to airport, a smaller impact on the environment, and more predictable schedules for travelers. we're already seeing these benefits in metro areas around the country now. as we move forward, i have asked
my senior leadership team to focus on three main areas this year. first, we need to make the safest aviation system in the world even safer and smarter. second, we need to realize even more the benefits of next jen and we need to realize them today. and third, we need to make sure that we empower our 48,000 faa employees to embrace innovation and to work efficiently. mr. chairman, i'm honored by the trust the president has placeed in me as his nominee and if confirmed, i pledge to enhance the safety of our system for the traveling public and to guide the faa through the many challenges that lie ahead. i would like to thank this committee again for its consideration of my nominee and i look forward to continuing our close-working relationship. i'm pleased to answer any questions you might have. >> again, mr. her ta, thank you
for your willingness to serve and for your testimony this morning. you mentioned, obviously, safety, which is the high priority. as i mentioned earlier, we had oversight hearings on this issue. there are several rule makesings that are required under the faa extension act of 2010. some of those rule makings for duty time rules have been completed and others haven't. in the hearings that we had in the aftermath of the colgan flight, one of the issues identified was the shortcoming of pilot training. what is the status of that rule making and when can we expect those rules to be released? and when can we expect that transformation to be in place? >> we continue to work on a final rule to update our commercial pilot training requirements. this is a very important rule. it's something i care very deeply about. i was distressed to learn of the
time involved in moving this rule forward. and i have made it a very high personal priority to do all we can to expedite the development of this rule. the initial rule making was underway with the passage of the faa extension act of 2010 and subsequent to the passage of that rule, we had to issue a supplemental notice of proposed rule making. we received a very large number of comments in response to that, and we have reviewed those comme comments. i have instructed my staff to work diligently and quickly in the completion of the rule so that we can get it out there for final implementation. we expect that we will complete that by october 2013. i know that's a long time and we're doing all we can to move it as quickly as possible. >> what can we do in the meantime? 2013 is a long time from now, as it relates to this.
this seems to be a -- something we needed in 2011. >> the faa will continue to work closely with industry to find out what we can do in advance of rule making. focusing on training is a very important priority and i want to work cloisly with industry to do that. >> what about pilot commute t e times? i mean that was one of the issues in the colgan air case. the amount of time and commuting, pilots showing up after long distance travel. >> every pilot has an important responsibility to report to work fit for duty and safe to fly. this was a high priority to address in the pilot fatigue rule. there's a responsibility that we have all to ensure that pilots can report to work fit for duty.
it's a large and complex rule. i pledge my own personal commitment to push our team as quickly as we can to get this done expeditiously. >> thank you. may have more questions. but mr. chairman, ranking member hutchis hutchison? >> let me start with the office of special council and also the relatively-large number, according to the special council, of whistleblowers at the faa. and what oversight measures are you putting in place in response to that report or what measures are you taking to assure that
there is some way to assure that an air traffic controller isn't taking a nap on the job or leaving the tower, those kinds of things are obviously very troubling. how are you dealing with that? >> there are two things that you suggest, ranking member hutchison. first and foremost, every faa employee has a responsibility to ensure the safety of the traveling public. that means that they need to report to work fit for duty all the time, every day. the second thing is that we need to have an environment and a climate where anyone who sees that there is a potential safety risk in the system feels a safe environment to elevate that to higher leadership and in doing
that, it ensures we're able to take strong and appropriate action to deal with safety risk that might exist in the system. a couple years ago, we put in place whistleblower office within the faa. we set it up with the assistance of a former faa whistleblower. we wanted to ensure that it was clear where people can go if they have concerns about safety, about compliance with rules, and everything that's associated with that. i think that that has done a lot to create an environment and quick response. as a result of doing this, we have identified areas where in one instance we completely changed out the management facility so we could ensure that an appropriate focus was being given to safety. i think that every employee of the faa bares a specific
responsibility, and i think it's a duty. it's my expectation that if there are challenges in the system, if they see things that represent safety risk, then they have to be brought forward so we can deal with them and deal with them expeditiously. >> mr. hour ta, one of the things that you read about and hear about are how difficult it is to discipline and fire, if necessary, a federal employee because there are so many requirements and it's a bureaucrat bureaucratic, tough situation. i mean, all of us, well not all of us, but i have certainly been in a federal agency myself, and i know there are a lot of rules and sometimes it's been difficult, even if someone was not doing their job and had all the requirements.
i'm asking you if you have had trouble with these safety essential personnel like an air traffic controller or a mechanic. have you had trouble with the bureaucratic constraints or union activity that would keep you from taking an action that you felt is necessary to assure that a person not doing the job is not able to stay on the job? >> all of us as managers of the faa, and in fact, in any federal agency, have a special responsibility to ensure that the requirements and expectations for our workforce are absolutely clear and that we document when we see infractions and when we see that they are not being complied with. and we do do that. that's something that i think is an important first step in ensuring that these things are appropriately dealt with. the faa takes very seriously its
safety-sensitive responsibility. and with appropriate leadership, if we found problems, we have been able to deal with them. >> thank you. i do have another quick question, and that is, what steps are you taking to live within the lower budgets that we're going to have across the board until we get the deficits down and the debt under control? what measures are you taking that would suggest that you could do things more efficiently and that you're doing the part for your agency? >> first of all, i'd like to thank this committee and the appropriate tors for the support they have shown the faa, but you have given us a challenge. and that is the need to do things as effectively and efficiently as possible. we have within our organizational embarked on a major restructuring.
how do we minimize and find greater efficients? we have found savings. i think that's an important step. the other thing -- >> give me a couple examples. >> a lot of that is in technology systems. in general and administrative systems for the agency. technology benefits are huge in a large complex agency such as ours where we can deal with ensuring that there are not dupe la cat systems and we're taking advantage of our size and leveraging that through these systems. that's one very important area where we've been successful but we can do more. the other thing is, as it relates to the delivery of next jen, this committee and the congress in general have made it a very high priority. but that means we have a responsibility to do it as efficient efficiently as possible. we have established in our next plan what our specific goals
that we want to accomplish both in the midterm and the long-term. the major focus is on how do we deliver benefit early? as we deliver benefit early to the users of the system, what it means for an airline is they can reduce track miles flown. that's a reduction in fuel. that's a reduction in cost. it benefits communities because they have more efficient systems with less noise. it's those things we need to keep our focus on. >> thank you very much. >> chairman rockefeller? i think the chairman is going to ask some questions. thank you. >> thank you, chairman. mr. her ta, i'm sort of aghast here because we had a very good talk in my office and you answered questions very directly. and this morning you seem to be
answering them as if scripted by omb. and i have to be frank about that because it's not a favorable impression. you used the word the word dig all the time. the chairman asked you about aviation safety and the standards actually required, december 2011, i'm finding out that this can be done, cannot be done until 2013, and an additional five years and you simply said we will be working with the airlines and we will be doing our very best, that is not an answer at all. i want to know what is it that makes it so difficult to get the airlines or the faa to work together to get this done before 2015, indeed by 2013, if not by 2011 which is what we required in the law? what is your answer?
>> chairman rockefeller, as i mentioned, this is a very large and complex rule making and no one is for frustrated than i am. at the time it has taken -- >> please answer my question. >> what we are doing is working through a large number of comments and ensuring that we can develop a rule that will stand the test of time and that will deliver on the benefits that we want to do. people are working very hard in getting it done and but we have a lot of comments. it's a complicated rule. >> so, so, so it's a complicated bill, there's a lot of comments, there's always a lot of comments. washington draws lots and lots of comments. it's you and the airlines and it's the pilots and i just don't -- there's nothing in me which understands why in is taking so long. or why you -- you are -- don't talk to me about lots of comments and it's a complicated process. everything is that around here.
>> mr. chairman, i'm very committed to getting this rule done. >> and i understand that. what are you doing about it? so far i heard that there are a lot of comments and it makes it more difficult. so, you how do you wade through it and don't wait until 2015, lots of things can happen by 2015. >> mr. chairman, i'll do all i can to direct my staff and provide the resources to get this done as quickly as possible. >> um, well, let me just make it known for the record, it will seem to be an unfriendly comment. any federal person making testimony before any committee of congress has to have that testimony reviewed and not give it until it's approved by the offices of management and budget and that is the same with yours and that is what you are sounding like.
and i just can't live with going to do everything that i can, i want to know what it is that you will do to make sure it will happen. i'm sticking on this thing, 2015. >> mr. chairman, once a week, i meet with our safety organization on a regular basis and we go over every rule that we have pending. the questions that i ask are where is it? who is involved in it? what are the challenges that we have? and you assure me, do you have resource problems, are there legal challenges that you are running into? it create as forum for us to work through what are very complex issues. i share your frustration, i want this to be done quickly. >> air traffic controller
fatigue, 4,000 violations, we read about the washington post, required nine hours of rest. my question, i think i'll get the same answer, what has the agency done to address the violations to make sure we do not hear more about it. i understand you are sitting up in an air traffic control tower or in one of the ground based or underground based places and things are difficult and people get fired and all the rest of it, nine hours of sleep helps. but i just, please tell me what you are doing to make sure it happens. i don't think it's that complicated. >> it's not. >> what we did last year was put in place a requirement as you noted mr. chairman for nine hours of rest between shifts and as -- to ensure compliance with it -- >> does that include the time to get home? >> it's a nine hour rest opportunity. that is correct. >> so that means maybe six and a half hours and an hour and a
half commute? >> it could mean, eight hours if you had 30 minutes each way. >> right. >> what we have done since then to ensure compliance is we conducted a review of a large number of clocking in of controllers and we determined that there were -- that while the majority of controllers were in compliance with the nine-hour rest period, we found that there were some controllers that were clocking in a few minutes early. in most cases they were a matter of a couple of minutes, nonexceeded 30 minutes. in light of that, we at the agency in conjunction with the national air traffic controllers association, last week issued guidance to everyone in air traffic control, reminding them of the nine-hour rule. we are also now updating our time keeping systems so that they cannot physically clock in until the nine hour requirement the met and we will continue to focus on this. >> my time is up, i thank the
chair. >> thank you and i want to go over the order of members because people have come in and out of the hearing room. we will call on senator thune who is the ranking member on the sub committee and senator lautenberg and then my other colleagues. >> thank you and the ranking member for holding the confirmation committee. aviation is an important part of our u.s. committee. employs 14,000 people. we have to acknowledge that faa operates the largest and safest air space system in the world. as we know, since the mid 1990s the commercial air carrier rate has fallen by nearly 80%, achieving that low of a air
carrier accident rate while moving eight million passengers per year. a high rate of safety can be made and last year's letter of special council which -- safety related is a reminder that safety has to be a top priority. the agency faces several other future challenges including reviewsing regulatory burden ens and streamlining the policies. so, i appreciate mr. huerta hearing from you about your ideas and how to address those many challenges. i do want to quickly get your response to something. we have a bill, senate bill 1956, the european emissions trading scheme prohibition act which gives the secretary of transportation the authority to take the necessary steps to ensure the american operators
are not penalized by the eu, we had a hearing about it in front of this committee, and i'm interested in your thoughts on whether the legislation will help you in your negotiations with the european union? >> senator, thank you very much. the european unions efforts to impose is something we are in opposition to. we feel the appropriate forum to work through this is the national civil aviation organization and we joined with other countries to express our opposition and to make it clear to the europeans that we oppose what they are trying do and are prepared to do what is necessary in order to respond to that. it's the appropriate forum, and all options are on the table, we think that what the europeans did, while we are supportive of the goals of reducing emissions impact on the environment, this is entirely the wrong way to go about it and we want -- the
europeans know that and we continue to work on that. >> wouldn't having a legislative solution give you additional leverageconfronting the europeans on it? >> the europeans are aware of the opposition in the government to what it is that they are trying do and we continue to communicate that to them. >> at the same time, you have this thing already in effect essentially and lots of american air carriers covered by it. and in many cases having to pass those costs on. it seems to me at least that the legislation would at least provide temporary relief from this until such time as you can work through the appropriate forum, i canko to get the right resolution in place. it seems to me at least that it