FAA Admin: Who Would Want This Gig?

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The so-called great resignation has, heretofore, mainly applied to rank-and-file workers in the private sector but evidently the wave caught FAA Administrator Steve Dickson this week. He announced he’s out the door on March 1, less than two weeks hence. That’s a month more than half the five-year term he would have been expected to serve.

And who can blame him, really? To say that federal agency leadership posts have become unwieldy and all but impossible to do well—maybe even at all—is to distort the meaning of understatement. At one time, the skills necessary to do the job involved assembling a competent executive support staff, the smarts to navigate internecine and congressional political minefields and an actual understanding of what the FAA is supposed to do and what it actually can do. With experience as a high-level executive at Delta Air Lines, Dickson may have had these skills, but a big federal agency like the FAA—45,000 employees and $18.5 billion—is nothing like the private sector it regulates.

Despite repeated attempts at making it more like business, even to the extent that the organizational chart has labels for “lines of business,” and chief operating officers for its various departments, the agency remains sclerotic, insular and maddeningly unresponsive at times. But to be fair, not always. It seems improbable that even the most canny administrator could rewire this culture, although a business executive might have the best shot. In GA, we persist in the belief that the administrator ought to be a pilot—which Dickson is—but that experience pales compared to the task of just steering the lumbering bureaucratic ship clear of rocks and making some semblance of progress.

Continuing with a nautical metaphor, Dickson was handed a ship already stuck in the mud. When he took over in August 2019, the Boeing 737 Max had been grounded for six months and wouldn’t return to service for more than a year. He got blistered in congressional hearings, once being told that the FAA was “like a dog watching TV” in its oversight of Boeing. It not being his first barbeque, Dickson would have known going in that the administrator job is an easy target for political slime from legislators less interested in solutions than in looking tough on cable news.

Eight months into Dickson’s watch, the airline industry essentially collapsed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was hardly enough ramp space to park idled airliners. FAA revenue from user fees tanked by 43 percent, according to the GAO. Then the mask wars erupted. The mask requirement for airlines and terminals actually comes from the CDC, although the FAA seems to get blamed for it. Just this week, a lawsuit was filed challenging the CDC’s authority to require masks.

Dickson and the agency, nonetheless, found themselves confronted with more than the occasional drama queen bent on disrupting flights over the mask mandate or mitigations in general. Dickson rightly took a hard line on this, proposing no-tolerance high fines. If FAA data is accurate, cabin disruption events continue to rise because, in the end, some people just don’t know how to behave. No fly lists are gaining ever more exclusive members and a proposal by Delta Air Lines that the list be centralized drew pushback from eight senators distraught because their pugilistic constituents might be confused with terrorists. Good point, actually, because if you knock loose a couple of flight attendant teeth on one airline, you should have the right to do it on another. Isn’t this in the bill of rights? Dickson won’t have to deal with this, for which I am sure he is grateful.

Then there’s the 5G fiasco, another time bomb baked into the agency’s agenda long before Dickson was confirmed. I could never wrap my head around how much of a hazard 5G interference really represents. My barely informed opinion suspects it wasn’t much and had more to do with airlines not wanting to upgrade altimeters with filters and/or the cellular industry refusing to lower the azimuth of their antennas. They seem have solved it in Europe, but here? Of course not. The administrator has such intractables land on his or her desk every day. Frankly, it would be more appealing to go fishing or flying. But this was another example of federal agencies building siloed duchies rather than advancing the public good. This is the bleak reality that the next administrator will have to confront.

Occasionally, dollops of reality land in the cheap seats and anyone who attended the Meet the Administrator session at AirVenture last year got a glimpse of that. GA was hugely rankled at an FAA policy change that made it difficult for instructors doing specialty training in non-standard or non-certified aircraft. Dickson told attendees that it would take four years to get new rules in place, but he promised to at least make it easier to comply with the policy. Evidently, he delivered on that, but some in the industry are still steamed that the agency changed the policy at all.

In his statement explaining his departure, Dickson said he had been away from his family and Georgia and tired of the commute to Washington. This is the boilerplate reason all top executives use when moving on, whether by choice or by force. While there could be other reasons for his departure that we don’t know about, we haven’t heard that Dickson has become some sort of political liability or that some scandal is brewing beneath the surface to be revealed later. I’m pretending not to think about it.

People take these agency jobs for various reasons, but the ostensible one is public service. Candidates bring to the job various skill sets and experience, but the reason to accept the position is to serve the public and makes things better. Or at least not any worse. Yet from the outside looking in, we’ve made these jobs permanent hot seats, where the occupant lurches from crisis to crisis in the glare of unyielding publicity that necessarily seems to require more energy just to survive rather than actually lead. Who the heck would want to sign up for that?

Not me. Anybody else?

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48 COMMENTS

  1. Jeez, Paul … the Agency needs a settled, erudite and thoughtful expert like you to take command. You know aviation. But maybe more importantly, you know and understand the inner machinations of government.

    … but I completely understand and respect your choice to “… wave-off.”

    • NOT right, Greg … I’ll take it. My first order of business would be to order body bags and stretchers for those just collecting a paycheck and hopes of a retirement (IF money is still good then?). “Silo management” would stop on day one and team building as well as customer satisfaction and doing one’s job would be the focus. And I’d put half the legal department out of work or doing something constructive if they wanted to stay employed.

      I’ll give Dickson slack on a few issues but the LODA thing happened on HIS watch. I was in that Meet the Administrator meeting; I had to grit my teeth and throttle my impulse to stand up and yell “Bravo Sierra” when he said what he did. THEY broke it … find a way to correct it NOW.

      As to 5G, I watched two sessions of the Aviation sub-committee on Sunday and re-watched the second part just this AM where eight alphabet soup heads all tap danced in front of the committee. It was sickening. Everyone was pointing their fingers at everyone else or saying, “Not MY yob!” Only an ending statement by Peter DeFazio was “stiff” enough admonishing the players; everyone else just traded niceties and mostly easy question to which no corrective plans were offered. Everyone just pointed their fingers elsewhere. It was a very transparent view into the world of bureaucratic morass collapsing under it’s own weight. 🙁 SAD !

      I had to laugh when I heard about the resignation. Just the night before, on Russ’ blog about a mean FAA, I said, “If I magically found myself Pres, I’d correct it all.” Someone challenged me to say how … to which I retorted. I’d call Dickson and Butiegeg and the Fcc heads in and give ’em one week to provide me with a road map to correct 5G or I shut it down by EO until a plan shows up. I guess I musta scared Dickson into retiring, I thought, as I laughed. But THAT is what it’ll take … STRONG leadership and customer oriented time lines. And … UM … we no gots any of that, sadly.

  2. After a 31 year career in ATC under 9 FAA Administrators and 10 Acting FAA Administrators, it’s no wonder the agency has no direction as there’s no consistency of leadership. There were programs that came and went, and tons of others that were promised but never implemented. The amount of money wasted was incredible. Like any gov’t bureaucracy, the left hand frequently didn’t know what the right hand was doing, and they were in cross-purposes anyway. So glad to say I survived the morass and can put it behind me!

    • Dave, have you ever asked yourself why the dysfunction that afflicts the FAA doesn’t happen to other transportation agencies? I mean, even NASA doesn’t rise to the level of malfunction that bedevils the FAA.

      The FAA should be split up, jettison ATC, and create a small core/cadre of civil servants to manage the CFR 183 (Representatives of the Administrator) designees.

      Administrators come and go, so worry not for Steve Dickson. He’s probably got a cushy job in industry already lined up.

      And also worry not for the FAA. The “show” is run by the 2nd and 3rd tier Associate Administrators and division managers anyway (i.e., the “lifers”), so nothing will measurably change for the foreseeable future.

      • While I haven’t seen the FAA blow up its own airplanes, I get your drift. When your agency is supposed to both promote and oversee safety at the same time, it’s no wonder they can’t do both well. Kind of why the F-35 is a lousy fighter and ground attack airplane, it’s a compromise on both counts. Splitting the FAA up makes too much sense for the federal gov’t, and we can’t have that! Robert Poole makes a good case as to why ATC should be split off and even NATCA agrees. However, after seeing some of the crazy work schedules of NAV CANADA, I bet they wouldn’t be very happy in the long run. It’s the typical “to err is human, to really muck it up takes the gov’t.”

  3. “People take these agency jobs for various reasons, but the ostensible one is public service. Candidates bring to the job various skill sets and experience, but the reason to accept the position is to serve the public and makes things better. Or at least not any worse.”

    I loath the word association(s) of government leadership positions as public servants. The two words imply service to the public. And maybe at one time politicians and their appointed leaders became public servants by sacrificing pay and time as some sort of moral duty in an attempt to improve the average citizen’s life. But in my lifetime, these appointments made by politicians are well paying jobs with high visibility, known responsibilities, and a major stepping stone of ever increasing influence resulting in ever increasing affluence. This affluence usually peaks in some sort of corporate congressional lobby leadership role, expert government consultant, or the head of a well funded think tank, that is on permanent retainer by the government. So, in my world view, Dickson, his predecessors, and future appointee are simply well paid government employees who have bureaucratic responsibilities.

    A bureaucracy has no room nor intention to benefit the average citizen. In this case the FAA should be an aviation benefit, solution centered agency, THE advocate for safety including fostering innovation as it regulates all factions of US aviation. Instead, it is a bureaucracy that by definition can only serve itself, namely to continue to exist including as much growth as possible for continued future sustainability. Crisis management at best. Most often, it is a departmental blame game with no one taking responsibility for anything.

    Within all that morass (love this word too), sometimes something actually gets done. Often, at a local or regional level within this bureaucracy, are many hardworking employees who are the ones who do make decisions and get things done. But whatever is done, is done through the FAA bureaucracy lens, not through efficiency. These fine employees know that and have figured out a way to satisfy the bureaucracy status quo, navigate the morass or MORASS of rules and regulations, and accomplish their respective task to handle whatever John Q Pilot might require in his quest to become a pilot, remain a pilot, and/or aircraft owner. Commercial carriers with their respective operation are under the scope and sphere of the FAA’s higher bureaucratic leadership who have a more direct hand in glove lobby relationship with the companies they are in charge of regulating. Besides who knows more about the aircraft and its systems than the manufacturer? Conversely, who knows more about regulation within a bureaucracy besides the FAA? So, one feeds the other and vice versa. Occasionally, a bunch of people get killed when a manufacturer is less than honest to the bureaucracy. Many key bureaucratic leadership displayed a head in the sand attitude in their public service duty supposedly committed to aviation safety regarding actually checking up on the companies they are regulating. There were glimmers of hope through the FAA employees who did try to blow the proverbial whistle when they discovered these dishonest manufacturer’s certification claims. However bureaucracies have a well honed habit of covering up evidence, ignoring it, or simply destroying whistle blowing employees. Bureaucracies often eat their own for continued sustainability. This includes occasionally the Administrator.

    I had somewhat higher hopes for Dickson because he was a professional airline pilot plus a well-heeled Delta executive. Because of his business savvy, executive experience, combined with his piloting skills gained the same way as any other airline pilot has to do to become an ATP, I believe he knew what he was getting into. This offered a possibility that he might actually accomplish something before he was inevitably devoured by the Bureaucracy. The words of spending more time with the family is the code phrase the Bureaucracy is now about to eat its own. Eventually every FAA Administrator gets devoured. That is what bureaucracies do. Especially when the appointee comes from the avowed enemy of whatever present administration happens to operate out of the White House.

    Dickson will get a pension from the FAA, has his well deserved Delta retirement, and has a wide open door for increasing affluence via the revolving door of political lobbying gleaned from former “public service”, well paid, government administration leadership. Looks good on the resume and opens doors within govmit. I am predicting the next FAA Administrator will have a difficult time determining the difference between a propeller and the tail of an airplane. From crisis to crisis leadership will come someone well vetted and entrenched within the bowels of government bureaucracy most likely say from an industry like big tobacco, big pharma, or maybe Boeing. No need for aviation professional to apply. Now Dickson will be able to join the EAA, pay for a week long wristband, fly into Oshkosh, and actually enjoy it. I might buy him a beer if he does.

  4. The Dysfunctional FAA topic should have it’s own daily report and column going forward forever. Everyone of the 45,000 FAA employees should be scrutinized. If the public servant is doing a good job upholding the regulations, laws and promoting the aviation industry that should be recognized and held up as a positive example for all public servants of every agency to admire. There’s many of these good folks showing up to a thankless job each day. “I Thank You folks”. The FAA Administrator can’t be a dictator of this bloated agency and expect to ever get things right half the time. They need the peanut galleries help. Our thoughtful opinions based on experience guide topics all the time. The corruption and graft is over the top in most of the government but, the people reading this need to focus on the FAA. The more articles like Paul’s and Russ’ is needed everyday to keep the spot light focused on the regulators. The Aviation community is dead and much of the finger pointing can be directed at the agency that is stifling it. Three decades of 100LL controversy, the word ‘commercial’ needs 4 years of study. 5G, ADS-b 978 vs. 1090, ELT’s are out dated technology, UAVs and just so many other up-in-the-air topics. Decisions have to be made and the appointed people have to make them. Let’s get this done.

    • I was thinking just this yesterday, Klaus; that rank and file lower level FAA employees are NOT the problem, largely. One area deep within the ‘bowels’ of the FAA that I am particularly enamored with is the FAAST teams. These people go about their business trying mighty hard to make everything safe via being proactive toward that end. I’ve had personal interface with both the Orlando FSDO and MKE FSDO folks. If EVERYONE within FAA did that, we here wouldn’t be moaning nearly as loud. When the ‘promulgation of aviation’ was removed from the FAA’s Mission Statement, that was the beginning of the FAA bureacracy turning into just another pile of people collecting a paycheck for rowing as little as they can and patiently awaiting retirement. When the reliance upon the legal department to make everything legal and enforceable became a priority, the end was in sight. Sadly, Ken M’s comment below hits the nail on the head: “Public service? ‘Self service’ is more accurate for (most) bureaucrats.”

      • Larry, I think the Air Force had less an issue with its officer promotion system than the Army did/does, but I really do not know. I do know that both organizations get plenty of capable enlisted and officers joining up, and then the Army (Navy too, perhaps the Air Force) manages to turn enough of them into clones of the previous bunch. They get mostly excellent results but with lots of known systemic weaknesses they cannot figure out how to change. There seems to be a really big problem with a lot of them getting the career disease combined with desire not only for professional success but also monetary success.
        It seems to me if the raw talent is good, then promotion and retention must be at the heart of most the problems. You agree?

        • I must — SADLY — report that the USAF (and military, in general, today) is a hollow shell of what was the military I joined 55 years ago. The Chairman of the JCS is one step away from tinging his hair purple, I think. I do not think I could serve OR last in today’s military. Many old timers would likely agree, I think?

          As to the FAA, we don’t need “yes men.” We need talented proactive people who give a damn and will go the extra step toward making things happen. As Administrator, you can’t foresee every problem that’ll pop up during your tenure — or what caused it — but you can damn sure prioritize your time and that of your staff and do everything within your power to make it right.

          More than five years ago, I adressed Michael Huerta at a “Meet the Administrator” forum. His answer was to, “See me after.” When I approached the stage, I damn near got attacked by one of his burly body guards. Only when I had the guts to blurt that “The Administrator said to see him,” did they allow me anywhere near him. When a bureaucratic head has to have body guards … sumting is wong!

          • Yeah, not a great sign. I was in a pretty good Army. We won our war at least. I had hopes that changes to the pension system would help a good deal. DC has gotten so much worse, and we all know which the stuff rolls.

  5. Public service? “Self service“ is more accurate for bureaucrats, the reason the wealthiest counties are around D.C. and state capitols. Having dealt with my state’s division of aviation I’ve seen how the aviation community feeds off itself – bureaucrats focus on job security and expanding their empires by chasing every new opportunity to gild an airport with tax dollars, regardless of pilot needs or requests. Airport facility suppliers work hand-in-hand to fleece taxpayers, often paying expensive consultants to fabricate wildly optimistic economic impact “studies” to justify projects. There is always pressure to overstate needs provided the funding is from the Feds. Bogus “pass through” companies are created, ostensibly owned by females, minorities or veterans, to take advantage of government preferential spending. After a relatively short 30 year career with great job security bureaucrats enjoy both fat retirement benefits and cushy do-nothing Board positions as payback for funneling government spending to their new employers while they were on the “inside”. It’s all very disgusting, the reason I changed careers. It is not only the FAA though but found in all branches of government down to the smallest county. The only solution is cold turkey – privatize everything. Question – how many FAA employees lost their job and fortune during the lockdowns? I’d bet the number is somewhere between zero and none.

  6. All this focus on the FAA level and nothing about the person/people who is/are currently in the oversight position?? Does the FAA Admin have final authority to do what they think is best? Or do they have to answer to a larger political agenda? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

  7. The FAA has become, or worsened as a sea of regulations. Just 10 years ago something as simple as a ferry permit was a phone call and a fax. My last one was forms, calls, and days of waiting. I kept hearing Covid, safety, blah blah. The FAA is killing aviation and advancement by regulations.

  8. ‘…but a big federal agency like the FAA—45,000 employees and $18.5 billion—’

    Qualifying maybe as a sub-department in the VA – As of June 2020, the VA employs 412,892 people at hundreds of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, clinics, benefits offices, and cemeteries. In Fiscal Year 2016 net program costs for the department were $273 billion. Head honcho Denis McDonough might have been able to help Dickson if asked to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, 5g, Boeing, and interagency relationships like dealing with the airlines and congressional boobs but alas, he just quits like so many are doing today, probably for more money, less challenge and effort, and oh, to be near family???

    This shows weakness and insincerity to me and of having lost the key character traits to be a leader and problem-solver. Pathetic, sad and wasteful. A businessman in a governmental leadership position, what were we thinking? The two are entirely different skill sets, but honest assessments of skills and purpose seems to have been usurped by money and influence, to disastrous results nationally and locally in today’s marketplace.

    Famed exercise guru Jack LaLanne comes to mind for some reason here, not waiting for approval from anyone or better exercise equipment or support of any kind yet accomplished his exercise goals and established a fitness empire by using – a chair. He used a humble, sturdy %@&* chair.
    Dickson’s just another well-oiled quitter in my book, I have zero sympathy for the man, and I’m quite sure I won’t find him applying for a position at the VA anytime soon.

  9. Lots of great stuff here. Unfortunately, much of the problem is a dysfunctional Congress and bipartisan incompetence at the top. For this we voters must blame ourselves. I am optimistic in the long run that the voters will start rewarding competence over demagoguery. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

      • Eric’s bold point, if I may say, is as mine – that hope for the voting block to eventually see beyond themselves and vote for expertise and know-how over emotionally charged pablum in a candidate is our best solution to Congressional incompetence. Still blaming ‘all 3 branches of government’ misses the essential point.

        But I’m also hardly sanguine about our chances…

  10. “45,000 employees and $18.5 billion—” employees in the FAA. (Some sources list the number as 48,000) The number of registered aircraft in the U.S. is 210,862 according to online source Statitsta. That equates to 1 FAA employee per 4.68 aircraft.

    That doesn’t seem bad, until you realize that is just the number of FAA employees, and does NOT include FSS (that’s contract) or clerks. There are about 14,000 air traffic controllers. Remove the 14,000 air traffic controllers, and it comes out to 6.8 aircraft per FAA employee. $18.5 billion divided by 31,000 non-controllers=$580,000 per employee, if my calculations are right–my calculator doesn’t go to that many digits!). That SEEMS like a lot of money per employee.

    Perhaps we should consider “Privatizing the FAA.” (sarcasm–all in good fun!)

  11. Come on Paul,
    Why are you making a big deal of one person leaving an organization of 45,000 (your number)?
    Yes it is the FAA Administrator but we have all seen them come and go.
    It seems to me, what you are really trying to discuss is, what is FAA and what should it be?
    To do that we need to understand what is FAA. For that go to FAA.gov/about.
    I’m not saying that URL is going to make us all fully understand the FAA org. But it is a start.
    Who ever secedes Dickson should start there and try to understand the FAA as it is.
    The next step is to come up with a plan to improve it. For this they need lots of input and a way to boil it down to priorities issues, good solutions for solving them, and then implementation (a team).
    The concept is simple. We cannot expect any one person to have all the solutions but we can expect him to create a plan by gathering ideas from all of our brilliant readers of AvWeb and maybe even a few others (tongue in cheek)! There might even be a few FAA employees who have some good ideas!
    The bottom line is that the position of Administrator is do able if one gets a lot of input from those who understand the FAA as it is and more importantly where it needs to be.
    Its my understanding that citizenship is about people who care enough about our government to fix it when they see problems. It doesn’t look like its too hard to see problems in the FAA or any branch of the Federal, States, or local governments in the USA! We just don’t seem to have too many citizens understand true citizenship.

    BTW, If you go to that URL, you’ll find out that we have an Deputy FAA Administrator named
    Bradley Mims, Deputy Administrator. Maybe he has some ideas! His bio. follows.

    Bradley Mims, Deputy Administrator

    In February 2021, Bradley Mims assumed his current position as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Deputy Administrator. Mims has served as a transportation professional in government and the private sector for over 40 years. As a government relations specialist with a multi-modal transportation background, Mims holds a special affinity for the aviation industry.

    In addition to working for a number of firms and organizations related to transportation/aviation, Mims served as the head of government relations for the FAA during the Clinton Administration. He served as a transportation staffer for members of Congress in his early career (representing Congressman John Lewis—GA and Julian Dixon—CA). Mims has also served as a congressional liaison for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Between 2001-2005, Mims served as a transportation specialist at Booz Allen Hamilton. In 2005, Mims joined Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., serving as the Aviation Markets Vice President until 2010.

    As an appointee of the governor of Maryland, Mims joined the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority Board of Directors in 2014 and has served as the co-chair of the Dulles Corridor and Finance Committees, as well as chair of the Nominations Committee. In addition, Mims served as the transportation subject matter expert with Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) from 2014-2016. Prior to his appointment at the FAA, Mims served as the President/CEO of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) from 2016-2021. He graduated from Allegheny College with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

    In February 2021, Bradley Mims assumed his current position as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Deputy Administrator. Mims has served as a transportation professional in government and the private sector for over 40 years. As a government relations specialist with a multi-modal transportation background, Mims holds a special affinity for the aviation industry.

    In addition to working for a number of firms and organizations related to transportation/aviation, Mims served as the head of government relations for the FAA during the Clinton Administration. He served as a transportation staffer for members of Congress in his early career (representing Congressman John Lewis—GA and Julian Dixon—CA). Mims has also served as a congressional liaison for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Between 2001-2005, Mims served as a transportation specialist at Booz Allen Hamilton. In 2005, Mims joined Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., serving as the Aviation Markets Vice President until 2010.

    As an appointee of the governor of Maryland, Mims joined the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority Board of Directors in 2014 and has served as the co-chair of the Dulles Corridor and Finance Committees, as well as chair of the Nominations Committee. In addition, Mims served as the transportation subject matter expert with Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) from 2014-2016. Prior to his appointment at the FAA, Mims served as the President/CEO of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) from 2016-2021. He graduated from Allegheny College with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

    • I am not sure what qualification Mims has to run FAA
      Having lived in Md. for 15 yrs he appears to be another lifelong minority Dem. party glad hander who has made friends. Have a look at his CV on LinkedIn (and not the FAA’s version) and tell me what relevant experience he has in aviation.
      In his own words, his only stated goal at the FAA was to be a “voice for the minority community to ensure racial equity is advanced across all levels of the Agency In addition, we must update the procurement process and ensure the policies put forth provide equal opportunity for small and minority-owned businesses.” That’s all he said he wants to do at FAA. Nothing about aviation at all.
      Are these these the things that are wrong with the FAA that he should spend his time on? From my my personal experience, there are a ton of 8A minority owned procurements at USDOT, a FAA Mentor-Protégé Program for minority business, 8A set-aside goals, FAA Procurement Readiness Program to help minority businesses bid on FAA contracts, Required Contract Provisions to mandate minority participation in FAA AIP grants, as well as Civil Rights Grants Assurances’ very detailed legal requirements to meet minority needs and ensure participation. What else did he have in mind?

      No one who understands the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority Board of Directors would think it a good idea to advertise it, so it’s not surprising he leaves it off his LinkedIn. The Dulles Corridor committee he is said to have co-chaired resulted in the US taxpayers footing the billions for the fiasco of the Silver Line Metro extension. There was never sufficient data to justify federal New Start funds for the project, so it was deemed not feasible by USDOT, but then the Dem. members of WMAA made their calls to the White House who in turn pressured my office at FTA Grants to “look again” and say the numbers added up. Of course the original data was correct and it turned into the disaster we predicted -the project is 3 years late, 40% cost overruns, and sections in use were only getting 60% of projected riders pre-COVID (more like 20% for the past two years), so we were right to try and call BS before $7 billion was wasted but he was instrumental in pushing for it. Nothing to be proud of, and oddly left off his own CV. How is this a qualification in aviation?

      The Laborers’ International Union of North America membership is construction workers and mail handlers. Their filed LM-2 form does not list him as an expense and which means he got paid something less than $50k as a supposed SME. How is this a qualification in aviation?
      COMTO seems to have had around 1,100 members and even 8 years later a look at their supposed accomplishments from their own docs is not overwhelming. How is this a qualification in aviation?

      Again if he was “congressional liaison for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.” who for, and why does he not himself take credit for it on LinkedIn. Rep Dixon died in 2000 and his work with Rep. Lewis appears to be in the early 80’s. His work at DOT Congressional Affairs Office according to him was when he was 17. There are SEVEN modes at USDOT and FAA is only a sliver, so even if he was a boy genius as a teenager, how much did he really learn about aviation.
      So again, please tell me what objective qualifications he has to lead the FAA? If he was not in that “underrepresented group”, would anyone in a million years appoint him?

  12. Former British prime minister Tony Blair first brought up the issue of dealing with existing government bureaucracy or if you will the “deep state”. This was long before the Trump campaign called this the swamp. Most entrenched bureaucrats are not interested in doing anything to disrupt their gravy train. They see new management changes as a threat to their own job and will do anything to obstruct any policy that existing bureaucrat doesn’t like. Sound familiar? So to answer Paul’s title to this article, I can’t see why anyone with a brain who is not in government now would even consider the Administrator position without getting absolute hire and fire authority. I think the civil service system pretty much kills that idea.

  13. Jobs like Administrator of the FAA are like being a Chief Pilot. Your bosses disrespect you and you subordinates hate and distrust you regardless of how good a job you are doing.

    Who would want this gig ? ……Indeed….