Randy Babbitt was about half way to a five-year term as director of the FAA, which oversees the regulation of the U.S. airline industry. The FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Huerta will take its place.
Some industry officials and lawmakers expect Mr. Huerta remains in position throughout the next year, since the White House will probably want to avoid a difficult struggle for an appointment just before the presidential election in November.
In recent months, Mr. Huerta directed the controversial project from the FAA NextGen, which aims to make the transition from an air surveillance system based on radar technology inherited from World War II to one based on satellite technology.
Mr. Huerta was also executive director of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, and held several senior positions within the Department of Transportation at the time of the Clinton administration.
Mr. Babbitt, age 65, was arrested Saturday night in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, a patrolman who says that the most senior of the aviation industry of the country drove on the wrong side of the road.
Mr. Babbitt said in a statement he had submitted his resignation to Secretary of State for Transportation Ray LaHood, and that it had been accepted.
Mr. LaHood thanked Mr. Babbitt for his services, explaining that during his mandate, the national air system “had become more safe and sound.”