Steve Dickson, a former executive for Delta Air Lines, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next FAA Administrator after a contentious process that included charges that the airline retaliated against a safety whistleblower while Dickson was a top executive at Delta.
With the confirmation process now behind him, Dickson will be expected to shift his focus to the agency’s pressing concerns, the most publicly visible being the safety review of the Boeing 737 Max airliner that was involved in two fatal crashes.
Dickson, who retired last year as Delta’s senior vice president of flight operations, takes over an agency that must reassure the traveling public and other nations’ aviation regulators about its ability to oversee the safety of Boeing’s grounded airliner.
Questions about Dickson’s appointment came to light when it was revealed that a Delta pilot had filed a lawsuit against the airline claiming retaliation for raising concerns about potential safety violations while Dickson was with Delta.
“I have not previously and will never tolerate retaliation of any kind to any employee who raises safety concerns,” Dickson said in a written statement to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation earlier this month. He also told the committee that he was not named as a party in the lawsuit.
The Senate voted in favor of Dickson’s appointment 52 to 40 along party lines.