Trottenberg May Take FAA Interim Post


Polly Trottenberg, the current Deputy Transportation Secretary, is expected to take over as acting administrator of the FAA in the next few days. She will replace current Acting Administrator Billy Nolen, who will leave the post on Friday, according to Reuters. It was reported earlier that FAA Chief of Staff Katie Thomson would get the job. Sources told Reuters that Trottenberg’s appointment wasn’t a sure thing either.

Trottenberg is a career bureaucrat with no apparent aviation experience. She was New York City’s Transportation Commissioner and a senior policy official for the Department of Transportation in the Obama administration. She also served as an aide to Sen. Charles Schumer. There’s still no word on nomination of a permanent replacement for former FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, who left more than a year ago. The Biden administration’s pick for the job, Phil Washington, withdrew after a rough nomination hearing in the Senate.

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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  1. Strange that we struggle to find someone to run the FAA who is a good manager, pilot that understands both commercial and GA, and ATC. I guess this is a unicorn, but we should work hard to get someone that’s got the right credentials.

  2. Totally predictable. An appointee apparently skilled at navigating and using the bureaucracy with little, if any, awareness of the particulars of the task.

  3. Actually it is a totally thankless task. No one ever left the position saying how satisfying it was. A fully qualified person in all needed areas would just not want it….I wouldn’t think. You would be too often a political pawn frequently sitting before one side or the other of congress. My opinion having been DOT for 34 years.

  4. Just what we need, another clueless bureaucrat to head the FAA. Might as well just leave the position unfilled!

  5. Can the CEO of GM turn a wrench or even know how a modern engine operates? I’d bet 50% who read this can’t do a brake change on their own plane, most can’t change the oil. But that doesn’t make them a bad pilot. In this case does an administrator, responsible for operations really have to have aviation experience? Should they instead rely on the experience of the proper managers, technicians and others within the FAA?
    I’d rather have someone that can better organize and run the agency than someone who just relays on their flight experience.
    Sometimes I think someone from outside would be a better choice.

    • Past GM CEO’s indeed were auto enthusiasts, like Bob Lutz (I suggest you watch one of the available interviews with him to get insight to how bean-counters can ruin a corporation). It was after the bean-counters took over in the 70’s that GM took the road to ruin . And I do almost all the labor every annual on my Mooney 201 (and Mooney “C” a couple of decades ago), having the luxury of having an IA as a friend who is on my home field, LS40. This person has no redeeming aviation-related qualities, including your supposed ability to “organize”. Bonus clue; she worked for Chuck Schumer.

    • There are times I would agree with you but we aviation persons just got through with dealing with a career FAA bureaucrat named Mr Huerta, who was dragged kicking and screaming by Congress to get BasicMed passed. Putting another career bureaucrat just sets up more mandates by Congress because of the FAA stonewalling any reasonable changes.

      • “Michael Huerta!” SLOWLY I turned … step-by-step, inch-by-inch …

        I’d say what I really think but … it’s ‘ex parte!’

        Where is Langhorne Bond when ya need him ??

    • An FAA administrator doesn’t need to be Bob Hoover to do a good job (and Bob wouldn’t have touched the job with a twenty foot pole). But the vast, intereconnected air transportation system, from primary trainers to ultralights to agplanes to private, corporate and charter operations, to 121 airlines and the military, plus manufacturers, maintainers and ATC is highly complex, and someone with no familiarity with any of it cannot possibly understand the issues involved in regulating it all without years of on-the-job training. OJT is great for an apprentice, but not for the CEO. This is a(nother) catastrophe unnecessarily brought down on us by this horror show of an administration.

  6. Just once — JUST ONCE — can’t this administration appoint someone to an important position based on qualification and experience, rather than race, gender or “intersectionality” score? It’s not only insulting, it’s dangerous to put someone who knows nothing about aviation in charge of the FAA.

    There aren’t a lot of progressive Democrats in the pilot ranks, but there are some. There’s even a Gay Pilots Association. Surely this administration could tap one of them, if political affiliation has to be their first priority, and still give us a competent administrator. God knows we’re not going to get competent leadership from Secretary Pete!

  7. It seems to me the primary criteria for an Administrator these days is a bureaucrat with no experience and effective at wielding a bureaucracy against the people it’s supposed to be serving.