As the Biden administration cements itself on Capitol Hill, the incoming president has begun nominating officials to various high positions within the cabinet. Among them is Pete Buttigieg, President Biden’s pick for Transportation Secretary. The choice has been lauded by both sides of the aisle and is a welcome one for the private aviation industry as a whole. Buttigieg’s logical, progressive stances bode well for a private aviation industry on the cusp of new innovation and opportunities.
Mayor Pete is a welcome addition
Buttigieg, the former Mayor of South Bend, IN, is a logical pick for Transportation Secretary. His claim to a transportation position rests in his work in Indiana, where he pioneered two-way traffic patterns that improved safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. His experience with infrastructure is a boon to the position, and he called infrastructure investment “part and parcel of economic recovery.”
For private aviation, there’s even more to love about Mayor Pete. His approach, when asked about regulation, will likely be technocratic, putting standards and practices in the hands of the engineers and aviation officials who understand their industry best. For example, in regard to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reforms, Buttigieg said he remained committed and that “we need to make sure the engineers at the FAA are in the driver’s seat.”
Open-minded transportation in a pivotal time
Buttigieg’s position over the next four years coincides with what could be a time of fruition for a number of important aviation projects — namely those in the realm of private aviation.
The biggest is the ever-burgeoning rollout of urban unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — air taxis in major metropolitan areas. Several companies are on the verge of bringing their craft to cities in a limited capacity, and support in the highest levels of government would allow them to do that more efficiently. Buttigieg’s emphasis on infrastructure restoration could be key in UAV deployment, as he seeks to modernize decades-old infrastructure.
The supersonic corridor is an important coming-to-fruition project as well. Although it’s already received approval, continued support from the Transportation Secretary could expedite the development and deployment of supersonic jets. Buttigieg’s support also would lend credence to the project, which still faces skepticism from environmentalists.
Buttigieg’s history with private aviation
Outside of his new role as Transportation Secretary, Buttigieg is no stranger to the benefits and convenience of private aviation. As reported by the Associated Press, Buttigieg far outstripped other democrats in spend on private air travel during his short tenure as a candidate in 2019. His familiarity and comfort with charters is a gateway to understanding and supporting them in his new position.
A bright future for private aviation ahead
Pete Buttigieg’s progressive approach, technocratic mindset, and firsthand familiarity with private aviation all ties together in a Transportation Secretary pick that comes at the right time. With major advances coming to private air travel, government is gaining someone who understands them and whose policies support them. As the next few years unfold, we can expect positive traction for the big issues in private aviation.