FAA’s Acting Chief Announces Plan to Step Down
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The head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is stepping down after just over a year on the job, raising questions about the direction of the agency as it grapples with challenges from flight safety and aging technology to congestion in the skies.
Acting Administrator Billy Nolen said he notified the White House and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg that he would depart this summer when a new nominee to lead the agency is named. Nolen revealed his plans April 21 in a letter to FAA employees.
“I have given everything to this agency, and now it’s time to do the same for my family, who have sacrificed so much and supported me during my time at the FAA,” he said.
The announcement comes at a complicated time for the FAA, which has faced issues with a balky technology system that prompted a nationwide halt in flights and a string of serious runway safety incidents. The agency hasn’t had a confirmed chief in more than a year.
Nolen has served in the role on an acting basis since taking over for Steve Dickson in March 2022. Dickson departed the FAA during the middle of a five-year term, citing the impact of spending long periods away from his family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just weeks ago, the Biden administration’s nominee to head the FAA, Phil Washington, withdrew his name from contention for the post after it appeared he would not receive Senate confirmation.
Buttigieg said April 20 before Nolen’s announcement that the administration is working to identify a candidate for the job who would receive broad support.
“We need a confirmed administrator,” Buttigieg said.
— With assistance from Lillianna Byington.
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