Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of General McKee as Administrator, Federal Aviation Agency.

July 01, 1965

Secretary McNamara, General McKee, Mr. Halaby, Mr. Thomas, General Grant, my friends in the Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

If it won't cause the press to think a news conference is beginning, I will start out this morning by saying that I have a few announcements to make--short and to the point, as always.

Right now, I am very happy to be able to welcome all of you here--with the advice and the consent of the Senate--Senator Magnuson.

This is a ceremony of more than usual significance. It is one of the relatively rare occasions when a native of the State of Texas is leaving the Government voluntarily. I hope that none will regard that as an ominous link in an ominous chain.

Jeeb Halaby gave up the quiet, everyday pleasures of being a test pilot to face the perils and the dangers of bureaucratic life in Washington. But every passenger who flies across this country in a plane owes him a deep debt of personal gratitude. In 4 years of dedicated, tireless service he has done much to assure public confidence in the safety of air travel.

By the inspiration of his vigorous leadership, he has greatly advanced the performance of the fine agency that he has headed. And certainly Mr. Halaby has won a place in history as the first regulator--in my memory--to fine himself for violating one of his own regulations. I am grateful to him for his willingness to serve his country by remaining in his post at great personal sacrifice for many months, and I wish him every success ahead.

Now the man who takes the direction of the FAA today leaves the perils and the dangers of retirement to resume the quiet, everyday pleasures of an 18-hour workload.

I don't know whether it is more politic to call him "General," or "Mister," or "Bill," but whatever the title of the man, I know that every knowledgeable person in this Government and out of it calls "Bozo" Mco Kee the best man for the important job that I am assigning him this morning.

You know without my repeating it what that assignment is. It is to develop a supersonic transport which is, first, safe for the passenger, second, superior to any other commercial aircraft, and third, economically profitable to build and operate.

All about the man and about his record, I think, is conclusive evidence that he is the man to direct this effort. I am very proud to have him aboard. And in that connection, I have this announcement to make.

I have received the second interim report of the President's Advisory Committee on Supersonic Transport.

This Committee has conducted an intensive appraisal of the status of our supersonic transport program. Based on this review, the Committee members have recommended a plan of action to move the program forward at the fastest possible rate consistent with the attainment of those goals that I have outlined--that is, to develop a supersonic transport, safe for the passenger, superior to any commercial aircraft, and economically profitable to build and to operate.

The Committee advises me that substantial program progress has been made within the last several months. The Committee believes there is a high degree of probability that with future work on the basic technological problems, a commercially profitable supersonic transport can be developed. It has also stated, however, that much work must be done before construction of a prototype aircraft is initiated--if the large financial and developmental risks underlying the program are to be minimized.

On this basis, the Committee has recommended a substantial increase in the tempo of the program.

I have approved the Committee's five recommendations. I have directed their implementation as soon as possible. Those five recommendations might well be mentioned here and they are that:

1. The next phase of design cover an 18-month period beginning about August 1, 1965.

2. The four manufacturers--Boeing Company, Lockheed Aircraft Company, General Electric Company, Pratt & Whitney Division of United Aircraft Corporation--be invited to continue in this phase of the program.

3. The FAA Administrator be authorized to enter into contracts with the airframe manufacturers to undertake detailed airframe design work and tests over the next 18 months.

4. The FAA Administrator be authorized to enter into contracts with the engine manufacturers to construct and to test over the next 18 months demonstrator engines to prove the basic features of the engines.

5. And finally--and very importantly, Mr. Magnuson--that the Congress be requested to appropriate--Mr. Mahon--the necessary funds to initiate the next phase of the program. And for this purpose I shall request an appropriation of $ 140 million.

The objectives of this 18-month design phase are as follows:

First, to provide a sound foundation upon which realistic estimates of operating performance and development and production costs can be based.

Second, to take advantage of the flight experience of the SR-71, the XB-70, and the variable sweptwing F-111--all of which will be extensively flown at supersonic speeds over the next 18 months.

Third, to reduce developmental risks and developmental costs while retaining the capability to accelerate the program in its later phases, depending upon the technological progress of the manufacturers.

And, fourth, to provide a basis for judgment as to the manner in which the program should proceed after the 18-month period, and to determine with much greater precision and knowledge the work that should be done in the succeeding phases of the program.

I might add here that all of the talent in the Federal Government is going to be available to the FAA Administrator in cooperating and in coordinating with him in this great job. The distinguished Secretary of Defense is going to offer counsel and assistance and facilities and resources of his Department. The distinguished Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Space Administrator, and others, are all involved in this effort, and it is going to succeed.

The program that I have just approved represents a very significant increase in the level of our effort--and a threefold increase in the amount of funds that we are spending. We believe that the increase is clearly justified by the progress that has been made over the last 4 years and particularly by that made over the last several months under the plan of action approved last May.

The program demands much hard work and much hard thinking. As I have been since President Kennedy first asked me to chair this Committee, I am confident that this country can achieve the level of technological advance that is required to develop and produce a supersonic transport.

So, given the ability of industry and the Government and the people all working together, I have not the slightest doubt that under the predicate laid and the preliminary work done through the years by men like Jeeb Halaby, and carried through under the direction of Bozo McKee, America will proudly reach her goal in due time and on time.

Thank you very much.

Note: The swearing-in ceremony was held at 11:27 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words the President referred to Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, Gen. William F. McKee, incoming Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency, N. E. Halaby, outgoing Administrator, David D. Thomas, Associate Administrator for Programs, and Lt. Gen. H. W. Grant, Deputy Administrator.

During his remarks he referred to Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington and to Representative George H. Mahon of Texas, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives.

The six-page report on supersonic transport, entitled "Memorandum for the President--Second Interim Report of the President's Advisory Committee on Supersonic Transport," is dated May 8, 1965.

The Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1966, which appropriated $140 million for development of civil supersonic aircraft, was approved by the President on October 31, 1965 (Public Law 89-309, 79 Stat. 1133).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Swearing In of General McKee as Administrator, Federal Aviation Agency. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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