DOT’s Polly Trottenberg Chosen as Acting FAA Head

Biden Seeks Nominee After Phillip Washington Withdraws
Polly Trottenberg
Polly Trottenberg by Noël Fletcher/Transport Topics.

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The Federal Aviation Administration’s leadership team has been updated, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced recently.

Polly Trottenberg, most recently serving as the department’s deputy secretary, has been tapped to perform the duties of acting administrator at the Federal Aviation Administration. She succeeds former acting FAA administrator Billy Nolen.

“I am pleased to announce a team of experienced leaders to guide the FAA,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement accompanying the announcement June 8. “I am grateful to Billy for his service during one of the most challenging and dynamic times in aviation, and I have full confidence in Polly’s steady hand during the search for a permanent administrator.”

Prior to her stint as deputy secretary, Trottenberg held posts as under secretary for policy and assistant secretary for transportation policy. Before joining the Biden administration, she managed the New York City Transportation Department.



During Trottenberg’s tenure at FAA, the administration will continue a nationwide search for a nominee for the agency’s top job. The administrator post requires confirmation by the Senate.

In addition to shifting Trottenberg’s role at the department, other officials were tapped for new positions. The department announced that Katie Thomson, FAA’s chief of staff, will move to the deputy administrator role. Keith Washington, USDOT deputy assistant secretary for administration, will become FAA’s acting chief of staff.

The department also indicated Deputy FAA administrator Bradley Mims will lead the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at USDOT. Tyra Redus will become that office’s deputy director.

Bradley Mims of FAA


“Transportation at its best opens and connects communities and creates opportunities for families,” Buttigieg said. “Few have championed that more than Brad [Mims]. I look forward to having his advocacy for small businesses at the department.”

On June 13, Archer Aviation Inc. announced the appointment of Nolen as its new chief safety officer. “I’m honored to join Archer Aviation, a true visionary at the forefront of revolutionizing urban air mobility,” Nolen said in a statement the company provided.

“Billy is an incredible leader and has long been a staunch supporter of the eVTOL aircraft industry, spearheading our country’s and the FAA’s global leadership role in this important area,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer’s founder and CEO. “Together, we will shape the future of transportation and make sustainable, efficient air travel a reality.”


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Amid Republican pushback, Phillip A. Washington withdrew his nomination in March to lead FAA. The CEO of Denver International Airport had been tapped by President Joe Biden to lead the aviation agency.

Last month Ann Carlson, Biden’s nominee to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, also withdrew from consideration. Carlson has resumed her role as the agency’s chief counsel. Her withdrawal leaves NHTSA without a Senate-confirmed administrator.

Ted Cruz


Similar to Washington, Carlson was met by strong opposition from senior Republican senators. In a letter to Carlson on May 1, Republicans led by Commerce Committee ranking member Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) stated, “As chief counsel, you had a responsibility to ensure that NHTSA’s proposed regulations complied with the law. However, you instead took actions that were consistent with your long career as an environmentalist without traffic safety experience. In fact, as you told colleagues, the Biden administration recruited you to join NHTSA explicitly to advance its ‘whole of government’ climate change agenda.”

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