President Donald Trump named former airline executive Stephen Dickson to run the Federal Aviation Administration as the agency faces scrutiny for its role in approving the Boeing Co. 737 Max for service before two fatal crashes of the jetliner.
The FAA administrator job has been vacant since Michael Huerta, who had been appointed by President Barack Obama, stepped down in early 2018 at the end of his five-year term.
Dickson, who was senior vice president-flight operations for Delta Air Lines Inc., needs Senate confirmation before taking over the agency that oversees the aircraft industry and operates the world’s largest air-traffic system. Trump was said to have earlier considered his personal pilot, John Dunkin, for the post.
The arrival of Dickson would come at a trying time for the FAA. The U.S. Department of Transportation has asked for a wide-ranging review of how the agency and Boeing certified the 737 Max—the jet that’s been involved in two fatal accidents since October, including a crash in Ethiopia on March 10. The audit is separate from a criminal probe involving the Department of Justice.
While at Delta, Dickson served in several posts advising the government on modernizing the air-traffic system, which will be one of his top responsibilities if he takes over control of FAA. The agency is in the process of a multibillion-dollar upgrade moving to satellite-based flight tracking and other computerized technology.
Dickson attended the Air Force Academy and was a fighter pilot before flying for Delta. He retired from the airline Oct. 1.