President Joe Biden said he intends to nominate Phillip A. Washington, a longtime transit official, for the post of administrator of the FAA.
The announcement comes at a difficult time for the FAA, which faces challenges such as managing the rapid increase in demand for air travel following the pandemic, which has contributed to scheduling problems. The agency is also still working to repair its reputation for safety advocacy after two fatal crashes of Boeing 737 Max airliners in 2018 and 2019.
By nominating Washington, Biden could place a familiar associate at the agency’s helm. Washington, who was named CEO of Denver International Airport (KDEN) last summer, also worked on Biden’s transition team following the 2020 presidential election.
As a 24-year Army veteran with a post-military career that focused on ground transportation, Washington differs from typical FAA administrators who were former airline pilots, Air Force officials, or aviation industry executives.
Prior to the Denver assignment, Washington was CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where he “managed a budget of more than $8 billion and oversaw 11,000 employees that transported 1.2 million boarding passengers daily on a fleet of 2,200 clean-air buses and six rail lines,” according to the nomination announcement. He also served as CEO of the Denver Regional Transportation District after nearly 10 years as the district’s assistant general manager.
In a statement, Eric Fanning, CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, urged the Senate to “swiftly confirm Phillip Washington so we can continue to enable and enhance American leadership in aviation safety in partnership with our aviation manufacturers and airline customers.”
If confirmed, Washington would succeed Billy Nolen, the FAA’s acting administrator who took the post after former administrator Stephen Dickson resigned in March.