The U.S. Senate confirmed Captain Steve Dickson as FAA Administrator yesterday, providing a permanent leader to the post which has been manned by Acting Administrator Dan Elwell since being vacated by former Administrator Michael Huerta in January of 2018.
Dickson retired from Delta Airlines in 2018. His last position with the airline was as Senior Vice President of flight operations. As the FAA faces scrutiny following the Boeing aircraft disasters and questions about the agency’s independence, the confirmation vote was split along party lines. Comment from the aviation community, however, has been generally positive. AOPA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which has embraced drone pilots in their organization, threw their support behind Dickson during his initial hearings in May.
“His in-depth knowledge of our aviation system and his keen understanding of General Aviation make Steve the right person at the right time to lead the agency,” wrote AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker in a letter of support. “His experience in leading a large organization will also benefit the FAA and he is a solid choice to serve as the next FAA Administrator.”
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said that Captain Dickson’s experience made him “highly qualified” for the position.
“The Department welcomes the Senate confirmation of Captain Steve Dickson as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator. With decades of experience in the airline industry overseeing flight operations, and service to our country as a United States Air Force officer, Captain Dickson is highly qualified to lead the FAA. Safety is the Department’s #1 priority and he is committed to ensuring that the FAA’s safety culture, and safety record, continue to lead the world. I also want to thank Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell for his tremendous service leading the agency as Acting Administrator since January 2018,” said Chao’s statement.
FAA leadership is important for the drone industry, especially as the FAA moves to implement drone related provisions in the FAA Reauthorization Act, and to forward drone integration into the national airspace.