President Donald Trump nominated a former Delta Airlines executive to head up the Federal Aviation Administration as the agency struggles to explain its mishandling of the potentially fatal problems with the Boeing 737 Max 8 airliners.
Trump on Tuesday named Steve Dickson, a former Air Force pilot and retired senior vice president of Delta’s flight operations, according to a White House news release.
"Steve was responsible for the safety and operational performance of Delta’s global flight operations, as well as pilot training, crew resources, crew scheduling, and regulatory compliance," White House officials said in the release.
"Dickson is a strong advocate for commercial aviation safety and improvements to our National Airspace System, having served as chairman of several industry stakeholder groups and Federal advisory committees," the release said.
The nomination follows the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 and Max 9 airliners after two similar fatal crashes in recent months. A Lion Air crash in Indonesia last fall killed all 189 people on board and an Ethiopian Air crash in Ethiopia just over a week ago killed 157 people.
The FAA dragged its feet in grounding the airliner after the Ethiopian crash, insisting that the planes were safe, as other countries grounded the jets, making the United States the last country in the world to do so.
Pilots and analysts have criticized the agency and Boeing over its hesitancy in addressing the potentially faulty flight-control software on the 737 Max jets and its slowness in offering a fix. The company and pilots were aware of the problem well over a year ago.
The Senate still needs to approve Dickson for the five-year post. Acting FAA Director Daniel Elwell has led the agency for the past 14 months since former Director Michael Huerta’s departure.