President Biden announced on Thursday that he plans to nominate Michael G. Whitaker, who was the second in charge of the Federal Aviation Administration under the Obama administration, to become the agency’s next permanent leader.
Mr. Whitaker is currently COO of Supernal, a Hyundai Motor company that develops air taxis. He served as the FAA’s Deputy Administrator from 2013 to 2016 and was also an executive at United Airlines.
Why it matters: The FAA lacks a permanent leader.
The FAA has been without a permanent head since Stephen Dickson, a former Delta Air Lines executive appointed by President Donald J. Trump, resigned last year.
Mr. Biden’s first nominee for the post, Phillip A. Washington, chief executive of Denver International Airport, withdrew in March after encountering resistance in the Senate.
The failure to nominate Mr. Washington has prolonged the leadership vacuum at the top of the agency. The FAA official who served as acting administrator after Mr Dickson left, Billy Nolen, left the agency in June.
Polly Trottenberg, assistant secretary of transportation, serves as acting FAA administrator, but she will have to hand over the reins to another temporary leader at the end of October due to a federal law that limits how long she can lead the FAA. agency on an interim basis. base.
And then: The Senate will consider the nomination.
Mr. Whitaker’s nomination will go to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the committee where Mr. Washington’s nomination fell through.
Mr. Washington has spent most of his career in the military and transit agencies, and Republican senators have described him as unqualified to lead the FAA. But Mr. Whitaker has a long resume in the aviation industry, so he’s likely to do better in that area. in front. A lawyer by training, he learned to fly during his time as deputy administrator of the FAA.