The planned March 31 departure of FAA Administrator Steve Dickson comes as much of the agency’s leadership team has turned over in the past year. His departure from the FAA is just one of a handful. Since last year, the agency has received a new deputy administrator (Bradley Mims), associate administrator for airports (Shannetta Griffin), associate administrator for aviation safety (Billy Nolen), and chief counsel (Marc Nichols). In addition, FAA COO Teri Bristol is retiring at the end of the month. But for business and general aviation, Dickson is leaving an “enduring legacy” in steering the agency through a difficult time.
Dickson informed his staff on Wednesday that he was stepping down on March 31, a move that comes just halfway through the FAA Administrator’s confirmed five-year term.
“Our country has been extremely fortunate to have Steve Dickson as FAA administrator during one of the most challenging periods in the history of the agency,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, adding “his leadership, integrity, experience, and expertise…made a profound difference when our country needed it the most.”
Bolen praised Dickson’s role in the development of SFAR 118 to help the industry continue operating during the pandemic, as well as for his decision to personally fly the Max to demonstrate its safety before it returned to service. In addition, NBAA acknowledged his engagement in the industry, participating in two association town halls as well as its National Safety Forum and Careers in Business Aviation Day.
General Aviation Manufacturers Association president and CEO Pete Bunce further called Dickson a “strong and effective leader” and said his work “has advanced the agency’s resiliency and credibility and built a stronger future framework for safety, innovation, sustainability, and growth.”
“Administrator Dickson provided stability during his tenure with the FAA,” HAI president and CEO James Viola stated, noting his “strong support of aviation” on the issue of 5G interference with radio altimeters. “The American skies remain the safest in the world because of his leadership and dedication to aviation safety across all platforms.”
Others characterized Dickson’s collaborative approach: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association president and CEO Mark Baker spoke of the Administrator’s work with the association on important safety initiatives and said, “I have personally worked closely with Steve for several years on key aviation issues both in his leadership role at the FAA and serving together on the NextGen Advisory Committee. Steve has been fully committed to the FAA’s mission.”
Dickson advanced the cause of safety and was a friend to the industry, NATA president and CEO Timothy Obitts agreed. While Obitts said Dickson will be missed, he added, his “commitment to continuous safety improvement, dedication to industry collaboration, and ability to instill confidence among consumers and the community will serve the agency well for years to come.”