Air Transport World

Interview: Jane Garvey.(Federal Aviation Administration official)

The leader of the most important national aviation authority fights to maintain a balance as she addresses the agency's frill agenda

Jane Garvey, the first tenured administrator in the history of the Federal Aviation Administration, was telling a luncheon crowd the 10 events that would have to occur before she would step down from her post. Event No. 5 was an editorial to appear in the American pop newspaper USA Today titled, "FAA: Hip, cool and doing it right." The other nine were equally unlikely.

While FAA is well down the list of government agencies that might now or ever be considered hip or cool, the odds of FAA "doing it right" may have gone up a notch or two under Garvey's guidance.

One reason for the increased odds for success is the aforementioned five-year term of office, a span that gives always-lengthy FAA programs an improved chance to progress, perhaps even to completion, under one managerial scheme after years of being lashed about from one administrator to another.

The second is Garvey's personal style--self-deprecating, self-assured and in control of herself and the facts, with an emphasis on communicating and listening--which has won the agency more than a little support in the halls of government. Garvey also has been able to establish herself during a period of extraordinarily good aviation safety in the US.

And while there is always a small element of fortune when it comes to the timing of accidents, the larger part of the safety equation is the concentration, the focus brought to the effort. In this, Garvey has been fortunate to come in as the industry's effort to concentrate resources on high-payoff items was maturing. Garvey grabbed onto the safety strategy concept, endorsing the industry effort and adding a parallel FAA effort, the Safer Skies Agenda, to show a degree of agency activism while remaining inclusionary of the industry program. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.