FAA Administrator To Resign


FAA Administrator Steve Dickson is expected to resign Thursday after sending a memo to staff thanking them for their support. “Over the past several years, my family has been a source of tremendous encouragement, strength and support,” Dickson wrote in a memo that was quoted by the Seattle Times. “Nevertheless, after sometimes long and unavoidable periods of separation from my loved ones during the pandemic, it is time to devote my full time and attention to them. As I wrote in my letter to President Biden, it is time to go home.”

Dickson said he made the decision in light of his growing extended family in Georgia and Florida and the necessity of living apart from them. He reportedly made the decision over the Christmas holidays before a series of contentious appearances before Congress, the latest of which was to explain the agency’s response to the potential interference of 5G cellular signals on aircraft radar altimeters. It’s expected Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims will take over Dickson’s duties.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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      • The fact that Buttigieg is incompetent and pointing it out has nothing to do with his sexual orientation. He was a lousy mayor, lousy candidate and now a lousy secretary of transportation.

      • What’s that? You cannot call people in government positions out as incompetent anymore? This is America.

      • Are you suggesting that malignant incompetency is caused by gayness? Sounds like you could use an education.

      • The guy is an incompetent ignoramus. He thinks roads are racist…What more do you need to say about this woke imbecile? Has nothing to do with his propensity to fondle gerbils and get rear ended by Fred or you….

      • There’s something both bizarre and pathetic about the Left’s automatic resorting to name-calling and identity politics rather than factual argument. It’s true that Buttigieg, who has proven himself time and again to be a lazy and utterly incompetent executive and administrator, was chosen, like almost everyone in this administration, for his demographic group identity rather than any qualification or expertise regarding transportation. But his sexual proclivities have nothing to do with his incompetence.

    • Buttigieg is a poster child for why no one under 40 should hold public office. Maybe if he had gotten experience in the private sector actually accomplishing things he could have become an asset.

    • I’ll comment here though I read the sub comments. If he is incompetent, please explain why and use facts, not opinions. See, if you say because he is a “liberal” or some label then you really don’t make a case. In what capacity has he been actually incompetent. He’s ben in his job for @ a year now so I figure yuou got some real meat on him.

      Calling people names in a public forum is bad form to begin with, but to do so without anything to back it up puts you in that column that is not really respected by intelligent people, only those you try to feel superior around. I love a good debate….Why is the Sec of Transportation incompetent and in what way are you qualified to make that accusation.

      • He’s unqualified. The only applicable experience he has was 3 years at McKinsey in which he worked on many projects as a basic consultant. Supposedly one or two of those involved logistics. IOW, he knows a bit more than a pizza delivery driver.

        You’d think we could get a general, or someone with from the department or, God forbid, somebody who ran a company or was head of logistics at a corporation. This is even worse than when they stuff some congressperson in there who served on a committee.

      • 1. The lack of effective approach to the harbor backlog
        2. Taking a long paternal leave during his tenure. Certainly a first, certainly poor judgement, and lack of effective consideration for his mission.
        3. Any new appointee has a learning process.
        4. Little to no demonstrated understanding of the transportation system as it relates to long haul trucking and energy requirements, challenges of electric vehicular energy storage.
        5. Statements regarding infrastructure don’t reveal any knowledge of transportation infrastructure or how funds are best applied to the problems at hand.
        6. Spending valuable management time pontificating and making statements on education issues rather than focusing on problems with the transportation system.
        7. Exhibiting no knowledge of the air conditioning systems in aircraft and the potential deleterious (or the lack thereof)of airborne infiltration of virus in a close cabin environment.
        8. A limited to no revealed understanding through his public statements on the impact of a variety of forms of energy and their contribution or impact to problems in the environment.
        9. Defining proposals to Congress to address true infrastructure understanding and what critical elements of the infrastructure could be addressed to minimize delays in the existing transportation system given US Government mandates that have a deleterious affect on the industry without a negative impact on the health/welfare of the public.
        10. Not addressing the problem at shipyards regarding Union rules that restrict the handling of incoming goods to the USA. Not briefing the President appropriately on the limits caused by Union rules to the President’s pronouncements regarding working 7 by 24 to address the problem.
        11. His lack of identification of why USA ports are far down the list of effective ports of entry on a world-wide comparison and what infrastructure funds should be directed toward materials handling improvements to address the throughput of US ports.
        12. Not working effectively with the FCC leadership to address what has become an inter-agency lack of cooperation regarding the 5G issue. A real leader would step into the fray early in his tenure and begin to work the issue rather than let it fester to the point that a government agency lack of cooperation manifested itself as a national media issue when the two agencies literally wasted years to let the issue exacerbate the effects.
        13. Letting an agency (the FAA), change an age old procedure and then affect the safety of the entire experimental aircraft training environment and let his director merely explain that it was a mistake that would now take 4 years to fix. He allowed his agency to succumb to bureaucratic malfeasance rather than stepping in like a true leader and say….this is STUPID, I’ll fix it. Go back to the way it was and if necessary change the rules to accommodate safety, logic and reason rather than bureaucratic stupidity that countered the mission of the organization.
        14. The list is too long to go on given the time I’ve allocated to describing a short list of his leadership deficiencies.

        • #13:
          As I already said … I was IN that “Meet the Administrator” meeting when Dickson said that LODA would take 4 years to fix but they got an interim work around. So lemme see if I have this right. There’s a problem that some “silo manager” in my Bureaucracy over reacted to but I can’t fix it. Excuse me, Mr. Dickson … YOU have a magic “twanger.” FIX IT NOW !! But all you did is now start issuing some meaningless and worthless LODA to everyone and THAT fixes it. YOU, sir … are INEPT !!

  1. Out with the old boss. In with the new boss. Wasn’t that a lyric from a Who song? About the only thing that will change is the calendar date.

      • Yes, another Who fan! It’s from We Won’t Get Fooled Again off the Who’s Next album. Wore one of those out and Baba O’Riley is my ring tone on my cell.
        Seems we haven’t learned the lesson presented from the song, let alone real life.

  2. So he out-lasted Trumps toady (Ajit “Verizon” Pai) who was told about – and ignored – the 5G problem for years, for this? Guess the cell towers are more important than the airline passengers – or at least they spread more money around in Congress.

    • The 5G problem has been around and the FAA has been sounding the alarm for years. Everyone is buying the telecoms nonsense that this is a last minute thing. Follow the money and you will find the answer. It was shut down once before and then came back to life. 5G has been implemented successfully around the world, different frequencies, measures around airports and so forth. Why our government failed here should be asked. This goes back to the Obama administration and continued into Trump’s and now Biden’s.

      • It failed because for years, certain elected officials have been calling government the problem and that it should just get out of the way of private industry which knows better. And that’s just what we got here: private industry (telcos) influencing a government agency (the FCC) without enough scientific reviewers on staff (or at least with the authority to kill a sale) to sell a slice of frequency too close to existing in-use frequencies. Add in a reactive (instead of proactive) government agency under recent scrutiny (the FAA), and you wind up with the mess we have today.

        Time and time again, private industry has shown that it is incapable of self-regulation, but when working for the government has a certain stigma to it, who would want to work there? It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be an all-or-nothing proposition.

        • Gary, I’m not going to say there are not people who sound like that, but it’s not an excuse. One can make the opposite argument that overly risk averse bureaucracies have lost all credibility and so no one listens anymore. That would be true also, and a tad more constructive.

          We definitely need more people staying in their lanes, and we need our legislative bodies to become functional again. The parties are supposed to make their cases and the Congress is supposed to weigh the matter, debate the matter, and decide.

          I think we can agree that’s not happening.

    • Don’t worry buddy…Biden is about to announce his usual type candidate to replace. Maxine Waters. She’ll outlaw flying to all the white racists…That should make all you “lefties” happy.

      • The guy resigns and you guys have to turn this into a political crap flinging fight???
        It took two posts to go that way. Give your heads a shake – not everything that happens in our world has to be about politics. Most of us just want to read about aviation and stay informed. Share your political views in forums where someone cares.

    • Both agencies are to blame. The testing was relatively simple. The 5G money had its impact on the FCC (for longer than just Pai). The 5G spectrum alone is at a frequency range that requires a plethora of transmission sites. It does not take a rocket scientist or even a trained telecom engineer to understand the power requirements, emi and dispersion based on the spectrum and the structure of the transmission signal array. So, if both agencies wanted to address the problem…..they could have come up with a test scenario that would quickly determine who was right and come up with a reasonable solution that took into account the economics. The science of transmission, power levels and spectrum has been around for a long time. Money and politics are the propagators of this debate. The analysis of the radar altimeter transmit/receive paths, extraneous 5G signal emissions at a variety of locations could have been easily figured out a long time ago. This is bureaucracy, lobby money, and incompetency at its norm…in the US Government. What was wrong with saying….hey 4G only around airports. Ever see the government claim that when you went behind mountain X…you went to 3G or no G that we couldn’t roll out 4G elsewhere? Ever measure your reception strength when you left a city and got off the interstate. Give us a break. It is gamesmanship that could have been addressed long ago. It’s my sandbox, so go away or I will make it painful for you.

  3. Did anyone really expect him to last very long, anyway? He actually lasted longer than I expected. Not that he was terrible, though – we hardly got to know him much.

  4. I haven’t been impressed by the FAA during his tenure. Our local FSDO has gone from being a true partner in safety to being an obstacle (every day feels like a witch hunt). The experimental aircraft fiasco is a complete embarrassment. The 5G debacle shows how dysfunctional our government really is. It’s very clear that he understood the airlines (being a Delta exec and all), but that he is somewhere between clueless and hostile when it comes to the rest of the industry (specifically manufacturers, maintainers and general aviation).

    I wish Administrator Dickson well, but I’m glad to see him go.

    • This was the primary reason why I did not support his appointment to begin with. Sure he knew airlines, but that has been a problem with a lot of recent FAA administrators.

  5. All the next candidate for Administrator need do is claim a cross-chromosomal degeneracy, and they’ll be a shoe-in. And evidence they spent their college years building paper airplanes.

  6. Another airline management hack bites the dust.

    I have a novel idea: Find an airline line pilot who has never held a management position at his/her airline. He/she also must be active in light airplane flying on his/her days off. Preferably a current CFI-A&I. Have this person take a leave of absence from their airline and be committed to return to line flying after 5 years as FAA Administrator.

    It might work. Nothing else has.

  7. Sounds like he quit before he could be fired. Should have has a PS at the bottom of that letter to Biden.
    PS, you should retire too…

  8. Can we please leave the mindless political name-calling to Facebook and Twitter and whatever other stupid social media platforms are used for this garbage? It’d be nice if we stuck to just aviation here…

    • Amen. Nothing like linking landing light malfunction to what’s wrong with government.

      BTW, to those constantly criticizing the government, have any of you run for office?School board? City council? If you know so much why keep your skills hidden. Sounds like America could really use you.

      • I think it’s a big leap from name calling to put up or shut up. This is very much a political topic, but it can still be a constructive political topic.

        You hit one of my pet peeves here with your comment. I have been trying to get more actively involved in politics off and on throughout my life. Mostly, I found it’s a much bigger sacrifice than serving my country in the military. There’s a bunch of gangs in there keeping the whole thing a big cesspool apparently on purpose. Right now, you speak up about the deficit as a candidate and get labeled a racist and your family gets attacked. My wife would divorce me tomorrow. (And, the Trumpsters are just as nasty on the right, so it’s a bipartisan sport).

        I don’t know your experience serving, but when I was an E5 in the reserves I watched my full time army boss get attacked (back then if you failed to make 20, you lost your pension). Why? He was good at his job, didn’t fit in, and embarrassed some of his peers by comparison. That was office politics in a reserve unit! As an officer on active duty I watched the game get played with more subtlety, but with much the same sorts of consequences.

        Bottom line, we should all keep things more civil and constructive, but calls to stay out of politics need to get denied. We all need to get MORE involved even if we are not in office. Voters have a duty in running this country.

        • Fair enough and good point. Things have gotten out of hand for sure on both sides in America and other parts of the world.

          Perhaps my pet peeve is that so many folks have opinions but not the facts or capacity to critically analyze correctly. We go with what satisfies our hunches and preferences and then don’t let go.

          Imagine shooting an ILS in mínimums based on your hunches and preferences.

          Many topics are complicated and nuanced for any of us sideliners to constructively weigh in.

          Thanks for your comments and thanks for your service.

  9. And don’t forget the FAA as of today is processing Aircraft Registrations for Oct 27, 2021. Let’s face it – the FAA can’t even solve the most basic and necessary service problems. The GOA says the FAA has 48,000 employees and I would suggest once government gets this large it fails to function.

  10. If the aviation industry had an FAA watchdog journalist everyone would clearly see why the FAA is melting down. The FAA has not punished, reprimanded or even publicly recognized wrong doing within their ranks. The inner agency conflicts are totally out of control. The FAA Administrator doesn’t need to be an aviator but instead a tough love leader that points out and prosecutes the law breakers. The abuse of power within the transportation industry started many decades ago and all the Administrators have pushed problems to the next Administrator. The First Amendment was suppose to be the checks-and-balance tool to throw a light on the public servants and politicians to keep the government honest. OH WELL… so, … here we are. ;(

  11. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out in the media. Seems as though everyone who resigned during the previous administration, it was reported as an indictment on the president. I wonder if the same standard will be applied now

  12. Yes, Raf. And despite Gary B’s valiant attempts to shut the lid on this dumpster fire, it continues unabated.

    OK, by a show of hands, everyone on this discussion who would take the job of FAA Administrator in a plea deal in lieu of four years in Ossining, raise your hands. Thanks. You are all idiots, and should be barred from posting on any forum with a wider distribution than a daycare center fingerpainting easel.

    Now, the rest of you who would not be, and if forced to, would suck at being the FAA Administrator, please share how your superior knowledge of political sausage-making at that level of the federal government would allow you do a better job. Once you have established your credentials, which must exceed purile recitations of political talking points, perhaps we will pay attention to your considered opinions.

    Free phosphors are the worst thing to happen to free speech.

  13. If you look at the FAA top management bios, you will see a lot of what appear unqualified people. It should be understood that aviation is a high tech activity. Relevant degrees would be in physical sciences and engineering. Instead we see a lot of degrees in political science, law, environment, etc. It’s not hard to imagine such hires are political, rather than competence hires. Recall former Administrator, Michael Huerta, who had no aviation background at all, and a degree in political science. We need hires that have a passion for aviation, who deeply understand it, along with its supporting technologies. Also practical types who would be disgusted with the recent LODA fiasco, and promptly fix it.

  14. The FAA ATO COO is also retiring….Top crumbles and the lemmings below take the hit.
    I’m sure Biden will select a super duper qualified candidate. lol