FAA’s Bobby Sturgell Gets a Little Good PR

By Robert Mark on May 13th, 2008

When a senior executive, especially one in the current Bush White House is in trouble, there’s nothing like a little good PR to help balance things out. Trouble is, it can be pretty tough to convince a reporter – especially one for a national newspaper – to take the time to say good things about a politician when almost everyone knows it’s fluff. You know those fluff stories … when the poor beaten upon politician is shown to be a real human like the rest of us by holding puppies and kittens or playing with kids.

Peters - Sturgell So when the Washington Post’s Christy Goodman wrote the glowing piece on FAA’s Bobby Sturgell – on Sunday no less – you know that someone at the Post must have owed someone at the DOT or the FAA a favor big time. But a good public affairs person at FAA or DOT gets paid precisely to make the case for these kinds of stories.

While I appreciate the fact that Bobby was a Navy pilot able to plunk an airplane down on a moving aircraft carrier at night in IFR weather – how many of us can do that? – he is still not the person to run the agency even in good times. While I’m sure he reads books to his son at night when does get home – I love a dad that does that actually – it has nothing to do with his qualifications to run an agency that is as screwed up as the FAA.

Right now, FAA is living through a nightmare of the worst credibility gap in its 50-year history, a mess in which our friends at the airlines and business aviation, not to mention the agency’s own employees like controllers and inspectors are being beaten up severely for much of what is the agency’s fault to begin with. And Sturgell has been at the helm during the worst of it.

Bobby. You’re a nice guy I can tell from Christy’s story … really.

But FAA has problems that are way beyond what you can do to fix them on your own. As a PR guy, let me tell you too that Bush appointee Mary Peters support for your nomination really isn’t helping your case either.

The beginning of a fix to the FAA won’t even start – I should have said maybe start – until the current White House tenant leaves next January.

In all honesty, none of the candidates – Republican or Democrat – has said much of anything about where aviation fits into their agenda either. That should make everyone in this industry more than a little nervous.


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9 Responses to “FAA’s Bobby Sturgell Gets a Little Good PR”

  1. ken Says:

    Commander Sturgell i also agree you sound like a great guy, and a true patriot. You trusted me and I am guessing 20% of the present FAA who wore the Navy Blue to guide you in all conditions. PAR approach in woxof, or around Socals many vfr corridors. Well Trust us now because the system is broke beyond repair! Our only hope is for you to do the right thing. I am positive you know what that is! Cashing in your chips, and going public!!! tell the truth and tell it loud! Help us right this ship before it sinks! I Salute your service and pray your the right man in the wrong place! Do the right thing commander please!!!

  2. Dale Kettring Says:

    FAA PR ship.


    Aye, aye, Captain.

  3. Thomas Walker Says:

    After reading the Sturgell fluff article, all is now starting to make sense. He loves his work and part of his work must be to make sure the controllers hate theirs.I’ve been an FAA air traffic controller for 6 years now and my job went from the greatest most challenging job in the world, to one I now despise. Share the love Mr Sturgell why don’tcha. And please stop telling the public and congress that your hiring plan is on track by hiring some 1200 controllers this year. The truth is you hired 1200 trainees, of whom 75% of them wont be actual controllers until sometime in 2011, and thats if they make it through the training process. Tell the truth Mr Bobby Sturgell, as a Naval Academy graduate your integrity should be one of your most favorable attributes.

  4. John J. Tormey III, Esq. Says:

    A “nice guy” does not regularly put innocent people’s lives at risk for the sake of giving himself political cover and padding the pockets of his mercenary airline friends. A “nice guy” does not make false statements to Senators under oath about it, either.

  5. Give Us A Break Says:

    Isn’t that what the neighbors say when the police come and haul someone’s ass off to jail:
    “Oh, but he was such a nice guy.”
    “He was such a great family man.”
    Etc. Etc. I can’t recall how many “nice guys” have ended up in prison, or worse, had a date with “Old Sparky”.

    All I can judge this man is by his actions in the FAA, how he treats the public, Congress, and the FAA employees.

    Mr. Nice Guy’s policies are forcing a lot of excellent folks to retire or quit because we can’t take being treated like vermin.

    Yeah, some Mr. Nice Guy. I hope his kids sleep well at night, ’cause he has given many of us nightmares.

  6. Rob Mark Says:

    I don’t know which is worse, that Bobby is seen as the only guy who can help or that the fall back is Congress.

    Any administrator can slam the door shut on negotiations like Blakey did. Now opening them up, that would take courage. Sitting down and listening to what people say – even if you disagree – now wouldn’t that be something.

  7. Give Us A Break Says:

    Bush, INC. does NOT sit down and listen to anyone. That is the sad truth.

    To expect Mr.Bobby to actually “do the right thing” is asking too much of him. He has his faults, but I would think the blame for this would go straight to the doorsteps of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

    He (and Blakey and many others that have their hands in destroying the FAA) got his position purely through having lips firmly placed on the back ends of Bush and Co.

    They sold their souls to the devil, so they must play by the devil’s rules.

    And the American people are the ones that are suffering the effects of all of this political incest.

  8. controller A Says:

    The FAA/Stoogel has no idea how to fix the system. When there is no honest good pr, they make their own. Ill pat your back if you pat mine. They have discovered that when in a crunch, you can always kick the ones at the bottom of the totem pole. It does nothing to solve problemss, but it feels oh so good.
    Ill spare the public a long speech on what Sturgell has REALLY done through experience of a controller. I will however say it is far safer to take a little more vacation time and drive to where you are going. This fuel crisis is a blessing of sorts because there should be less flights and more expensive tickets. This equals less living beings in the air at any given time. Decreased veteran manning and increased separation losses are a product of the Stoogel/Flakey era. If you insist on flying, make sure your Prudential policy is paid up to date. Have you played Russian Roulette lately?

  9. John J. Tormey III, Esq. Says:

    Acting Administrator Bobby Sturgell and his Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continue to subject Americans to a steady-stream of jumbo-jet aircraft near-misses, unsuspecting flights on defective and unsafe airplanes, and other near- and actual disasters such as a recent fiery explosive crash in Moab Utah in which 10 innocent people were killed. Taken together, aviation mishaps are in epic numbers since Bobby Sturgell took over as Acting FAA Administrator over a year ago, as borne out by current NTSB accident statistics themselves:

    Recent FAA-floated publicity balloons faux-touting claimed new technologies, ‘going green’, ‘perfect flights’, and stories of how ‘carefully’ FAA self-reviews, are only superficial charades intended to placate and distract the American people. The bottom line? Bobby Sturgell’s fake regulatory agency FAA continues to tell us it is somehow OK for FAA and the airlines, whilst back-slapping each other, to enlist publicists to tell Americans that air travel was ‘never safer’. Meanwhile planes continue to fall apart in un-inspected disrepair, FAA management is exposed as criminally threatening dutiful aviation inspectors, and passengers along with innocent others on the ground are continually put in harm’s way. FAA is a ghoulish and grotesque revival of the Oberstar-decried, Schiavo-decried ‘Tombstone Agency’ – the taped-up-in-red embodiment of the notion that ‘If the plane doesn’t crash, we’re doing great’ – the notion that a federal agency is not required to anticipate and navigate around safety problems, but only react if there are one or more tombstones.

    There are 10 more tombstones in Moab, Utah.

    How many more will YOU tolerate?

    Those passengers were innocent Americans.

    Quiet Rockland again asks all members of the United States Congress, journalists, the aviation community, all other American citizens on each side of the aisle, and all other world citizens to ‘Just Say No’ to Bobby Sturgell, and help repopulate the FAA with responsible officials for a change.

    Quiet Rockland

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