Headwinds For Dickson As Next FAA Admin


It’s been more than four months since former Delta Air Lines executive Steve Dickson was nominated to take over for Dan Elwell at the FAA. But The New York Times is reporting that Senate Democrats on the Commerce Committee are “looking into claims that Mr. Dickson was involved in retaliating against a pilot who raised safety concerns, with some senators now suggesting he may be unfit for the [FAA] job.”

The story surfaced in early June via CNN, and suggests that Dickson may have sent a Delta pilot who had reported safety concerns “to a psychiatrist,” which had the effect of removing her from flight duties. Dickson defended the evaluation as a “sound course of action.”

Regardless of the politics, the delay in confirming a new FAA Administrator comes at an arguably difficult time for the agency. It is under severe scrutiny after allegations that the Boeing 737 MAX’s MCAS software was not vetted properly and that the traditional system of checks and balances broke down.

Previously, AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker said that “Steve Dickson is a solid choice to lead the FAA. His in-depth knowledge of our aviation system, keen awareness of general aviation as well as the challenges before us make him the right choice to lead the agency. I am hopeful the Senate will move to confirm Mr. Dickson as quickly as possible.” Elwell has been the FAA’s Acting Administrator since January 2018.

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KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. I strongly disagree with Mr. Baker. It’s time to start over and find another candidate with strong GA experience. To have put another pilot through the FAA medical ringer for, what ended up as, no reason is more than enough reason to find another suitable candidate. Considering AOPA’s support for dropping the 3rd class medical, I am surprised at Mr. Bakers reaction.

  2. Safety Culture, Training, Understanding, Aviation Passion: The impact on Manual Flight and Operational Performance
    Karlene Kassner Petitt

    “When this work began, I was required to acquire 1,599 surveys. I was told that was impossible. At the most I would get 300, maybe 350. Eight months later I had 7,492 surveys. The significance of this number identifies that pilots worldwide care about the safety of the industry. Comments received from these pilots have further identified concern with the trajectory and ensuing safety of where this industry is going. The hope is that this research will be used for betterment of this industry to make positive steps for the future to ensure safe travel for all.”

    Read all about it:


  3. Mr Trump promised to drain the swamp. He has now really poisoned it, with a#s kissing corrupt people. As a conservative I am disgusted with this unpatriotic greed, that not one republican has the guts to stand up to. In my opinion for what it’s worth Dickson is just another fat school yard bully in an expensive suit. The real value is in the suit.

    • The GOP are anti democracy, there is no other logical conclusion at this Point.

      Lookup Justin Amash, and wonder why the party of ‘moral values’ (or even the average red voter with conscience) hasn’t got behind him.

      I totally understand what keeps folks from going left of center, but the hypocrisy from the right is enough to keep me away for life.