WASHINGTON — Steve Dickson, the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, will step down by the end of next month, the agency said Wednesday evening.
The announcement by Mr. Dickson, who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump, is cutting a five-year term after a tumultuous stint for the FAA. In a letter to staff, Mr. Dickson said it was “time to go home” to his family after 43 years in the airline industry and more than two years leading the agency.
“Over the years, my family has been a source of tremendous encouragement, strength and support,” said Mr. Dickson. “Yet, after sometimes long and unavoidable periods of separation from my loved ones during the pandemic, it is time to dedicate my full time and attention to them.”
He said the FAA was in a “better place” than it was two years ago, adding that the agency was reviving its safety culture, overcoming some of its toughest challenges and “building a stronger, more collaborative, inclusive and open culture.” “.
Dickson sometimes faced heavy criticism from lawmakers as he responded to a series of challenges to the agency, but on Wednesday night, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg praised him as “the steady and capable captain of the FAA”.
“His tenure has been marked by a steadfast commitment to the FAA’s security mission and the 45,000 employees who work tirelessly every day to fulfill it,” Mr. Buttigieg said in a statement.
mr. Dickson, a former pilot who rose to Senior Vice President of Flight Operations at Delta Air Lines and a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, took charge of the FAA as the agency faltered after two fatal crashes that left Boeing’s 737 Max jet for nearly two hours. year.
Congressional and security experts condemned the agency for oversight errors that led to the crashes, which killed 346 people. mr. Dickson, who took over the agency months after the Max was grounded, oversaw revisions to the aircraft that eventually allowed the fleet to resume commercial flights.
He then had to navigate a cascade of air traffic disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, including new airline safety regulations, travel restrictions, a severe decline in commercial air traffic and a wave of unruly passengers, prompting some airline executives to a federal no-fly list for those convicted of disrupting flights.
The agency had to address concerns that a nationwide expansion of 5G cellular networks could disrupt sensitive aircraft instruments. The FAA reached a compromise with mobile carriers in January to partially delay the deployment of 5G service near airport runways.
Mr. Dickson was confirmed in an unusually split vote in the Senate in July 2019 after some Democrats raised concerns about his involvement in a Delta whistleblower case. The agency had been without permanent leadership for over a year and a half before being confirmed.
Representative Peter A. DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said that while he “didn’t always come face to face” with Mr. Dickson, he thanked him for his leadership during a challenging time for the bureau. .
“President Biden must now appoint a new leader who is committed to the highest standards of aviation safety,” Mr DeFazio said in a statement.