The FAA has named Billy Nolen, a former airline captain who most recently held a leadership role with WestJet Airlines in Canada, to serve as associate administrator of aviation safety. He succeeds Ali Bahrami, who stepped down at the end of June.
Nolen will take the reins of the organization early next year and will lead a team of more than 7,600 FAA employees responsible for all aspects of aviation safety, including aerospace manufacturing, air carrier operations, business and general aviation activities, aircraft systems, and electric propulsion.
Previously v-p for safety, security, and quality for WestJet, Nolen brings a long airline background to the agency, including with Qantas Airways, American Airlines, and Airlines for America (A4A). While with American, he managed the carrier’s aviation safety action program and later was managing director for corporate safety and regulatory affairs. He also served as senior v-p for safety, security, and operations for A4A and later as executive manager for group safety and health at Qantas.
“Billy Nolen understands aviation safety and he understands that our journey requires constant vigilance and continuous improvement. We look forward to him joining our leadership team,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, in making the announcement of the appointment.
Along with his commercial aviation background, Nolen was an airplane and helicopter pilot and safety officer with the U.S. Army and earned a bachelor of science in professional aeronautics degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“I have spent my entire professional life seeking to influence and advance aviation safety and the safety culture of every organization I’ve been blessed to be a part of,” said Nolen. “I look forward to joining the incredible team of professionals that make up the FAA and working tirelessly to advance aviation safety both domestically and globally.”
NBAA welcomed the appointment. “We look forward to working with Billy in this new role and to his leadership across many aspects of business aviation flight safety, from our shared goal to promote implementation of safety management systems throughout the aviation industry to ensuring the safe rollout of innovative technologies like UAS and advanced aerial mobility,” said Doug Carr, NBAA’s senior v-p for safety, security, sustainability, and international affairs.