The Senate this week is expected to consider the nomination of Stephen Dickson as the next FAA administrator. He was narrowly approved along party lines by the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this month, and now the full Senate has scheduled a procedural vote to limit debate on the nomination. If successful, that cloture vote would clear the way for a full Senate vote on the nomination.
The nomination drew concerns of Democrats after information came to light about a whistleblower legal complaint filed against Dickson’s former employer, Delta Air Lines. Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) said she could not support the nomination, believing more needs to be researched given the concerns raised by the whistleblower. The whistleblower, a pilot for the carrier, is alleging that Delta retaliated against her for raising safety concerns. This occurred while Dickson was senior v-p of flight options at Delta.
Commerce Committee chairman Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), however, called Dickson an “excellent nominee.” And Airlines for America CEO and president Nick Calio lauded the Commerce Committee approval.
“We continue to believe that Steve Dickson is uniquely qualified to provide the vision, leadership, and experience needed to meet the challenges and significant opportunities ahead for the FAA,” Calio said. “We urge all Senators to approve his nomination on the Senate floor.”
The National Air Transportation Association, meanwhile, reiterated that “Dickson is recognized throughout the industry as a steadfast advocate for safety and modernization, having served as chairman of several stakeholder groups and two Federal Advisory Committees: the Air Traffic Management Advisory Committee (ATMAC) and the NextGen Implementation Task Force.”
A4A also urged Capitol Hill to issue a waiver that would ensure that the current acting administrator, Dan Elwell, could return to FAA deputy administration once a permanent administrator is confirmed.