FAA key leader to step down in summer 2023, leaving a vacancy

Flag of the FAA along with a flag of the US
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The acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Billy Nolen announced his decision to step down from his current position after a year of service.

Billy Nolen, who has been in charge of the US aviation regulator on an interim basis since April 1, 2022, plans to resign sometime “this summer,” when the authority nominates a new administrator, the FAA’s top aviation safety official wrote in a letter to regulator’s employees seen by Politico on April 21, 2023.

“I have given everything to this agency, and now it’s time to do the same for my family, who have sacrificed so much and supported me during my time at the FAA,” Nolen explained.

Nolen took the role of FAA acting administrator after the former head Steve Dickson left the agency at the end of March 2022. The recent announcement has sparked discussions over the uncertainty of the FAA‘s future because the authority has already operated without a Senate-confirmed permanent chief for almost a year.

On January 3, 2023, US President Biden nominated dozens of candidates to key national security, judicial, and administrative posts, including the position to lead the FAA. At the time, President nominated Phil Washington, the current CEO of Denver International Airport (DEN). But in March 2023, the nominee exited from a nomination campaign for the role of permanent FAA administrator due to Republican criticism and lack of support in the Senate Commerce Committee.

After Washington withdrew, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reportedly asked Nolen to stay in the post longer, but the administrator refused the offer arguing that he was not interested in the role on a permanent basis.

Before becoming the FAA acting chief, Nolen served as the agency’s Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety (AVS), which is responsible for aircraft certification, production approval, and continued airworthiness as well as certification of pilots, mechanics, and other specialists in safety-related positions. He joined FAA from his role as Vice President of Safety, Security, and Quality at Canada-based air carrier WestJet.

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