As expected, longtime senior bureaucrat Polly Trottenberg has been appointed Acting Administrator of the FAA. The announcement was made Thursday and confirmed earlier reports of the appointment. Trottenberg was the Deputy Secretary of Transportation. The White House also appointed the FAA’s current Chief of Staff, Katie Thomson, as Trottenberg’s Deputy Administrator. Current Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims is moving from the FAA to the Department of Transportation where he will lead the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The announcement was made as former Acting Administrator Billy Nolen was cleaning out his desk, reportedly to take a job at eVTOL developer Archer Aviation.
“I am pleased to announce a team of experienced leaders to guide the FAA,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “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.” The appointments come after a 16-month leadership vacuum at the FAA after the last Senate-confirmed Administrator Steve Dickson quit in March of 2022.
There is still no word on the selection of a new permanent appointee since the previous appointee Phil Washington withdrew his nomination in April after a rough ride in the Senate confirmation hearings. The leadership announcement comes as Congress is preparing a new FAA reauthorization bill to replace the current legislation that expires in September, and the decades of experience by both women in government is viewed as a plus by the National Air Transportation Association. “Trottenberg and Thomson’s years of experience at the DOT will provide stability as the spotlight continues to shine on aviation in the coming months.”