Babbitt Earns NATCA’s Highest Honor With Career Spent Devoted to Safety, Collaboration

On March 6th, 2013, NATCA will present its highest honor for an individual outside the Union – the Sentinel of Safety Award – to Randy Babbitt, a true champion of aviation safety for more than four decades. Babbitt worked with NATCA to usher in a new era of collaboration, which has led to a vast array of successes. Babbitt, who served as FAA Administrator from 2009 through 2011, is currently the Sr. Vice President of Labor Relations for Southwest Airlines. He is responsible for all negotiation, communication, and ongoing relationships between the airline and the 11 unions that represent 87 percent of Southwest employees.

Taking office as Administrator under the first Obama Administration, Babbitt was committed to restoring fairness and frontline employee involvement. He made it clear that achieving lasting success would require both the FAA and NATCA to “put chains” on the pendulum swings that often result when there is a change in leadership. Babbitt stated in September 2011 at the Department of Transportation’s first Semi-Annual Aviation Workforce Management Conference that these swings “take focus off of what we’re here to do, which is continue to have the safest, most efficient airspace system in the world.” Babbitt began his aviation career as a pilot, flying 25 years for Eastern Airlines. A skilled negotiator, he served as President and CEO for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). There, he championed the “One Level of Safety” initiative implemented in 1995 to improve safety standards across the industry. Babbitt later served more than eight years on the FAA’s Management Advisory Council.