Letter Accepting the Resignation of J. Lynn Helms as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration

December 23, 1983

Dear Lynn:

It is with regret that I accept your resignation as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, effective January 31, 1984.

You have served as Administrator of the FAA during one of its most eventful and productive periods. Although the firm stand you took during the air traffic controllers' strike is your best known accomplishment, the follow-up to that story is less well known. You have taken seriously the mandate I gave you to modernize our nation's air transportation system and make it the safest and most efficient in the world. The actions you have taken to accomplish this goal will be remembered for many years to come, and I want to thank you personally for a job well done.

Nancy and I send you our best wishes for every future success and happiness.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan

[The Honorable J. Lynn Helms, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C. 20591]

B

Dear Mr. President:

With great appreciation for the privilege of serving you for nearly three years as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, I am now tendering my resignation.

As you know, the past three years have been dramatic ones for the nation's air transportation system and for the FAA. When you took office, there were many challenges facing the FAA. The air traffic controllers' strike was imminent. The nation's airspace was in need of a systematic modernization program. The national system of airports was in need of an integrated plan to ensure availability and balanced access to all user segments. There were numerous other pressing needs. All had to be acccomplished in a period of great budgetary restraint, without sacrificing safety and convenience.

We have met these challenges, and I believe my job is now largely done. With your firm support, we kept the nation's airplanes flying during the controllers' strike, bringing the air traffic control system capacity back to pre-strike levels rapidly on a schedule I outlined at the start of the strike. We have developed and implemented several new systems and programs to make our airspace safer and our regulatory process more effective.

Most important, we laid out a master strategic plan for the FAA to the end of this century, consisting of five major elements:

  • a systems design of a modernized and safer air traffic control system

  • development of a methodology to improve the safety and efficiency of the nation's airspace

  • a long-range National Integrated Airport System plan

  • a detailed plan to automate the diverse information resource management needs of the FAA in a cost-effective manner, and

  • a three-phase plan to improve the work environment and human relations culture at the FAA, which is now entering its third phase.

Much of this strategic plan has already been put into place. I am absolutely confident that the superb professional career management team at the FAA fully accepts and believes in the course we have established. My successor will reap a legacy of detailed programs, plans, and funding of which I am proud.

You have given me the opportunity to preside over perhaps the most fertile and dynamic period in the history of aviation development and safety. It has been a very demanding task. The commitment of time and energy required to run the FAA is enormous, leaving little time for anything else. The outstanding quality of the career FAA staff, and its willingness to work virtually around-the-clock with me to handle these demands, has earned my greatest respect and appreciation.

Early last summer, with our objectives accomplished or on the way, I decided to leave government service no later than February 1984. Because of the importance of preserving the progress we have made, I felt obligated to remain through the FY 1985 budget formulation period. That process is now completed, and the time is at hand to implement my decision to return to the private sector in order to resume an active role in strategic consulting and business planning.

To allow time for the new Administrator to prepare for Congressional hearings and for orderly transfer of functions, I will plan to remain as Administrator through January 31, 1984. I have so advised the Secretary of Transportation.

I am extremely proud to have been a part of this Administration. It has been an honor to serve under you and your two great Secretaries of Transportation, Drew Lewis and Elizabeth Dole. You have established a progressive record in aviation safety and modernization that sets a new standard for Presidential action in the aviation field. It has been an honor to participate in that process.

Very truly yours,

Lynn

J. Lynn Helms