New FAA Administrator: Biden Taps Airport Executive Phil Washington

Phil Washington in 2015, by Eric Garcetti, CC BY 2.0

President Biden has appointed Phil Washington to be the new FAA Administrator.

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If approved by the Senate, Washington will step into the position vacated by Steve Dickson at the end of March, roughly halfway through his term.

An Army veteran, Washington is currently CEO of Denver International Airport.  Before his current position, Washingto held the top spot at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authroity for six years.  Washington has co-chaired the Biden/Harris Infrastructure Policy Committee.  He also led the Transportation Department transition team for the Biden/Harris administration.

The announcement came concurrently with the release of a White House statement pledging more than $1 Billion to improve airport terminals across the U.S., as part of the President’s infrastructure program.

As the FAA and the US DOT face numerous challenges, including current problems with flight cancellations, fuel prices, labor shortages, and the complex development of new transportation infrastructure, the drone industry also awaits action on a rulemaking for flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), which former FAA Administrator indicated would happen by the end of 2021.  BVLOS flight and other regulatory issues remain a roadblock for drone integration.

Leading drone advocacy group, the Association for Uncrewed Vehicles and Systems International (AUVSI) issued the following statement, asking the U.S. Senate to confirm the appointment quickly:

On behalf of the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), President and CEO Brian Wynne issued the following statement after the announcement that the Biden Administration will nominate Phil Washington as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA):

AUVSI welcomes the news that the White House intends to make a nomination to fill the vacancy in this critical leadership position. We urge the U.S. Senate to avoid delays in holding a vote and to swiftly restore Congressionally confirmed leadership to the agency.

We look forward to working with the new Administrator to continue positive trends that the drone and advanced air mobility (AAM) industry and government stakeholders have built in recent years to support consensus-based standards, the highest levels of airspace safety and U.S. leadership in innovation.

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