Head Of FAA Runs Out Of Time For Permanent Status

The Federal Aviation Administration will have to name its third acting administrator unless the White House nominates a permanent administrator that is confirmed by the Senate before October 25, Politico reported.

The current acting Administrator Polly Trottenberg, who was named in March, will have to step down on October 25 due to the law governing presidential nominees.

The Biden administration has to have a new Administrator confirmed since the previous FAA Administrator, Trump-appointed Steve Dickson announced his retirement in February of last year.

In an email to FAA staff last week, Trottenberg said if a new permanent administrator is not confirmed by the date of her departure, Katie Thomson will step in as acting Administrator while Trottenberg returns to her previous role as deputy Transporation Secretary.

Trottenberg was the second acting administrator named since Dickson’s departure. The frequent turnover came as the FAA dealt with mounting flight delays, air traffic control staffing shortages, and flight near-misses.

Katie Thomson, an attorney who currently serves as deputy administrator, has a long career in transportation, including at the Department of Transportation and the FAA. She previously served as FAA chief of staff and general counsel, and also as general counsel for the Department of Transportation.

In her email to FAA staffers, Trottenberg said the White House is close to naming a permanent nominee.

While the White House insists that it has a deep bench from which to draw a permanent administrator, it has faced several setbacks in the nomination process.

In July 2022, Biden named Phil Washington, a long-time transit chief, to fill the 5-year position. But Washington’s nomination was withdrawn in March after senators from both parties expressed concern over his lack of aviation experience.

Meanwhile, lawmakers and the airline industry have become increasingly concerned over the 16-month absence of a permanent administrator.