Piloting FAA's modernization

When the Federal Aviation Administration tapped Steven Zaidman as the agency's associate administrator for research and acquisitions in July, he said people did not know whether to congratulate him or send condolences. 'I said neither,' said Zaidman, a 21year veteran of the FAA. 'It's a challengin

When the Federal Aviation Administration tapped Steven Zaidman as the agency's associate administrator for research and acquisitions in July, he said people did not know whether to congratulate him or send condolences.

"I said neither," said Zaidman, a 21-year veteran of the FAA. "It's a challenging job, but it's doable. If it weren't, I wouldn't be here. I know you can be successful in this job, and being successful in this job means being successful as an agency."

As an agency, the FAA must address major issues, such as reducing airspace congestion and improving the safety and security of the system, as it moves into the next century. Despite the difficulty of these problems, Zaidman does not let the job overwhelm him.

"When you look at the big picture and know what the job is, what your goals are and how you want to operate, then the job becomes much more rewarding and easier," he said. "If you have a good organization and work force, it makes it a lot easier."

Zaidman's ability to put things into perspective should serve him well as he undertakes a daunting task: overseeing a 2,000-person organization that is primarily responsible for designing and upgrading the National Airspace System (NAS) infrastructure.

When Zaidman applied for the job, he struggled with whether the FAA would be better served by an industry representative or an FAA insider— a question he still has not answered. However, Zaidman was confident he could do the job as well as the next person. "I thought I could help support the goals of the agency," he said.

What Zaidman wants to bring to the job, he said, is a "sense of openness, a sense of honesty and a sense of trust.

"It's not that those things don't exist; it's that I want to reinforce them," he said. "I want people to feel empowered and feel that they can float up bad news as well as good news. I'd like people to be fairly candid. In order to make good decisions, you really need good information."

Zaidman's experience at the FAA runs wide and deep. He most recently served as acting deputy administrator for research and acquisitions. Before that he was the director of the Office of System Architecture and Investment Analysis, and he also served as the deputy director of the Office of Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems. Before that, he served for four years as the director of the FAA's Research and Development Service.

"I guess it was a natural progression for me to be considered for this job because it involves quite a bit of acquisition and quite a bit of research," Zaidman said. "I view myself as a facilitator and a coordinator and a leader rather than being in charge."

Those lines of business play an essential role in NAS modernization, which consists mainly of replacing the infrastructure, such as upgrading towers and radar, and developing new capabilities, such as satellite navigation technology.

"What is becoming more and more important for us is consideration of human factors and, as we improve the system, how people make the transition and move from older technology to newer technology," Zaidman said.

Despite the challenges of his new job, Zaidman said the hardest thing he has ever done is learn to play golf. "I'm on my second set of clubs," he said. "With the first set, I said, 'Maybe it's the equipment.' [With] the second set, I validated that it was the human."

Zaidman said he manages not to bring work issues home with him on the weekend so that he can spend quality time with his family. "I look forward to work, but I also look forward to going home," he said. "It's the question of, 'Do you live to work or work to live?' I answered that long ago. Work and career have their place, but that's not what I'm on this planet for."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.