The Biden Administration on Wednesday announced its intent to nominate Denver International Airport CEO Phillip Washington to be the next FAA administrator. Billy Nolen, who had joined the agency at the beginning of the year as associate administrator for aviation safety, stepped in as acting FAA administrator following the departure of Steve Dickson at the end of March.
While steering one of the nation’s busiest airports for just a year, Washington brings a lengthy background in the management of large transportation organizations. He previously was CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, managing a budget of more than $8 billion and overseeing 11,000 employees. He also was CEO of the Denver Regional Transportation District and assistant manager for 10 years before that.
Spending 24 years in the U.S. Army, Washington retired from active duty as a disabled veteran with the rank of command sergeant major and was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal for exceptional service. Originally from the South Side of Chicago, Washington also served as the transportation team lead on the Biden Administration’s transition team.
Washington would step in following a time when the FAA had been under intense scrutiny in the aftermath of the Max crashes. It also has been a transition for the agency that has seen most of its top ranks turn over in the past 18 months.
The Air Line Pilots Association president Joe DePete noted that the nomination “comes at a particularly critical time for the FAA and it is our hope and expectation that the first order of business for him will be to reaffirm the agency’s steadfast commitment to continually improving safety.”
The National Air Transportation Association pledged to continue to keep lines open with the FAA leadership and work collaboratively with Washington to ensure the voices of aviation businesses are heard on issues such as workforce, improving the Part 135 certification process, and implementing effective safety and risk management programs.