The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) William J. Hughes Technical Center is the nation’s leading Federal Laboratory for the research, development, test and evaluation of air transportation systems. Yesterday, I toured the facility and met with several hundred of its 3000 employees and contractors. Glad to report that the future of our air traffic systems is in excellent hands.
Joining me on the visit were Rep. Frank LoBiondo, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, and Center Director Dr. Wilson Felder. I think it's pretty clear I hold Administrator Babbitt in very high regard. And I know from the quality of the Tech Center's pioneering work and from yesterday's meetings that Dr. Felder is both an effective leader and a relentless advocate for enhancing aviation safety technology.
But, I also want to point out that I have known Congressman LoBiondo for many years. In fact, we've been friends since January 3, 1995, the day we were both sworn into the House of Representatives. And Frank has been an outstanding champion of the tech center and its employees since that day. Really, there is no one better.
During the town hall session, I thanked Tech Center personnel for their service and commitment to quality work in aviation data and safety technology. It's the kind of service that goes under-recognized, but it's their work that allows us to have as many as 7000 aircraft in the sky at any one time. As we begin to implement NextGen air-traffic technology, I hope Americans will appreciate the benefits of their fine work.
I also talked about Judy Lam, a leader in establishing DOT's Disability Resource Center and a career FAA employee who recently retired after 30 years of service. My message was simple: follow her example of leadership.
Someone at the session asked if I'd been upset by the nearby Phillies' recent sweep of the Chicago Cubs. To that point, I have no direct comment. BUT, it just so happens my office overlooks the beautiful new stadium of the Washington Nationals, and my dominant memory of this baseball season thus far is the Cubbies' 4-game demolition of the Nats. (For the record, I'm really more of a football and basketball fan--go Bears!)
All in all, I can't say enough good things about the Tech Center. Thanks, Director Wilson and everyone, for the hospitality; you and your team really deliver the goods.