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U.S. Sen. Capito questions FAA nominee, advocates for West Virginia, rural airports

See video of committee hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, participated in a full committee hearing on the nomination of Michael Whitaker to be the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito

During her questioning, Senator Capito highlighted the important role of rural airports, particularly in West Virginia, stressed the need to address issues like pilot shortages and the loss of rural air service, and the importance of federal officials to visit air traffic control towers across the country.


POTENTIAL TO LEAD ADVANCED AIR MOBILITY INNOVATION IN WEST VIRGINIA: “This would be next generation technology, but I think it holds a lot of promise, really, for rural areas to be the centers of excellence, and also the innovators here in terms of where we take this electrification on these types of vehicles.”

RURAL AIR SERVICE: “Let me go back to rural air service. I can speak from experience that it’s contracting. It’s not expanding in terms of availabilities. There have been some different companies that have come into play to, sort of do niche kinds of things, which are great for an area such as mine. Do you see the loss of rural air service as an urgent problem and how could you work to address that?”

PILOT SHORTAGES: “I think on the pilot shortage issue, we just had a ‘women in aviation expo’ around the state to try to encourage and have a broader reach to recruit more women, but also different types of populations into becoming a pilot. We have several pilot schools that have just grown in the last several years. So, I’m very encouraged by that.”

IMPORTANCE OF VISITING RURAL AIRPORTS: “Coming from a mountainous, rural area, having eyes on the runway is pretty significant in a place where I live. That fog can come in pretty quick, like it did last week, and we had to go back around and try again. So, I would just urge that. It’s amazing how much better the weather predicting has gotten over the years and how much more accurate. But as we move forward, I think those rural airports need to have that basic attention paid to them.”

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