Trump Nominates Former Delta Pilot To Lead FAA

Filed Under: Delta, Industry News

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hasn’t had a permanent leader since early 2018. At that point Michael Huerta, who had been appointed by President Obama, stepped down.

It’s surprising that the role has been vacant for over a year, since it seems like it would be pretty important for an organization like this to have real leadership. It looks like the recent Boeing 737 MAX crashes have finally caused action to be taken on this front.

It was announced today that President Trump has nominated Steve Dickson to lead the FAA for a five year term, pending Senate approval. Steve Dickson is a former Delta executive, who was VP of flight operations for the company.

He retired this past October after being at the company for 27 years. He was initially a pilot at the airline, flying five different types of jets. He’s a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, and was an Air Force officer prior to joining Delta.

The timing of all of this is likely no coincidence. With the two recent Boeing 737 MAX crashes and allegations that are coming out, there’s increased scrutiny about the FAA’s oversight role. Specifically, there are questions about the process that led to the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX. I assume that prompted this sudden nomination.

For what it’s worth, last year President Trump mentioned the potential of nominating John Dunkin, his personal pilot, as head of the FAA. He never followed through on that, though.

Bottom line

I had never heard of Steve Dickson before this, so I’m curious about the backstory. I do think it’s interesting he’s nominating an airline pilot who also served in an executive role at an airline. On the surface I’ll take that over someone’s personal pilot.

More than anything else I find the timing of this to be the noteworthy part of the story, given that it comes during the increased scrutiny following last week’s 737 MAX crash.

When I think of former Delta pilots in different roles, the fact that Tajikistan’s Somon Air has a former Delta captain as their CEO is always the first thing that comes to mind. What a life that must be…

  1. I like the new direction this blog’s taken. I know people will criticize Ben (Lucky) for posting but this is important and personally more enjoyable that credit card articles or the latest Bonvy update.

  2. This stupid, insane, no nothing Debit card is at it again. What a f*ckin’ troll. Hey Ben, why do you allow trash like him to populate your site, why?

  3. I wonder would he discreetly try to not allow as much expansion for the ME3 in US destinations given his Delta background.

  4. @John personally I feel the exact opposite. Some other blogs have become more tabloid based and injecting politics in every other article. That is not why I come to a travel blog. I can get the latest political news anywhere and when I come to a blog like this I would really like to avoid political talk. There are plenty of other places on the internet people can go to have those discussions and we don’t need to debate raging on a blog that is supposed to be about travel. Lucky has been pretty good with not engaging in some of the more tabloid type articles for the most part, but I would hate for people to encourage him to engage in that because I actually come here for the credit card articles and Bonvoy updates and redemption possibilities/flight deals etc.

  5. Well Elaine Chao has announced an investigation in the the FAAs handling of their approval of the 737 Max.

    If as reported Boeing basically self certified themselves and the FAA just accepted that without any sort of challenge then that Is worrying as is the allegation that the shutdown delayed FAA approval of the software fix.

    If that is indeed the case then the FAA will lose a heck of a lot of authority in the aviation world especially as they were virtually the last regulator to ground the Max. You only get that authority by being seen to do a good job but once lost trust is hard to regain.

  6. Stanley is allowing ME3 (indeed any airlines) to fly to the US not the role of the US Dept of Transport rather than the FAA? Whose role is safety not economic competition.

    Given DLs past pronouncements (even if he wasn’t making them) there would be pressure on him to recuse himself if this was indeed the remit of the FAA

  7. I think he was nominated because of his VP of flight operations job. Saying “former pilot” is as relevant as saying “former kindergarten pupil”.

  8. Stanley – Why would he? Delta are against the expansion because it will impact them financially, not because of some kind of philosophy. Given he’s no longer working for Delta, I’m not sure why he’d be too worried about the finances of the American airlines (though I guess he could hold stock).

  9. @Bill

    Lol people like you are pathetic. If you dont like these kinds of posts dont read them, the fact that anyone gets affected by these posts is hilarious.

  10. GOOD. I hope they privatize ATC like they do in Canada. I’d make a damn good air traffic controller but since I’m 39 the FAA requires you to enter the field 32 years or younger.

  11. @callum yeah, probably only to worry if holding stock, so yeah, against them financially. I see your point. Fine point made.

  12. DOT certified Boeing’s 737 Max 8 in March 2017.

    FAA was doing all the tests half year before that cut-off date.

    Who was the President when FAA did all those tests? Who was the head of FAA during that time?

  13. @D3KingAmerican

    If you’re responding to Dickson’s nomination for FAA administrator, you’re in luck. Back during the ATC privatization push, he’s written a few pieces outright defending *not* privatizing the whole deal.

  14. @D3KingAmerican

    We’ve just seen the great results from letting a profit-oriented firm self-certify its airplanes, yet you are now proposing that we turn more airline safety over to profit-oriented firms. No thanks!

  15. @Bill

    I must also add my support of @EthFlyers comments.

    If you don’t like a particular article then skip it and read on. There ARE other people here, dude. It’s strange that someone interested in travel could have such a limited world view.

    For example, the credit card articles you love are actually meaningless to me as I don’t live in the US. So I skip them. I do not have a hissy fit.

  16. @ethflyers way to demonstrate my point. I post why i don’t like political articles and you and others attack me personally for doing so. That is exactly why i don’t like them it creates a toxic environment.

  17. @Bill
    The premise of your original post was “I don’t like this topic so it shouldn’t be here”.

    My salient point was that if you could manage to adopt a worldview larger than your own basement – one that that accepts we all have different interests and are here for diverse reasons, perhaps you would understand why Lucky writes on a variety of topics. I for one support that variety.
    Credit card articles are completely
    irrelevant to me, but I support Ben’s right to include them because they are of interest to others, and presumably afford him a means to provide treats for Winston.

    In other news: for those of us readers outside of the US, looking in- the country does in fact appear to have been a toxic mess since approximately 2016. But I fear that’s another discussion that may upset you.

  18. Toxic mess, really? All the positive things compared to Obama? Where you at? Venezuela? Moron.

  19. I don’t know the person nominated, but the fact that he worked throughout his entire career for the industry he should now supervise is just against the most simple governance standards. Nominating the supervisor out of the cohort of the supervised ones is also a form of corruption – and as a passenger, I’m really scared about this.

  20. I agree with you Emmanuel!!!! debit needs some MEDICATION for his paranoia and psychosis regarding our President!! Scary how anger he is.. and hope he lives in Cuba or South America among the socialist that he seems to identify with vs our Free country

  21. Lucky – Please don’t expose us to clods like Debit. If I want political commentary I’ll ask for.
    This is a TRAVEL blog. Thanks.

  22. @Andy: Where would we get a Subject Matter Expert on commercial aviation safety that is completely disconnected from commercial aviation?

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