Stephen Dickson, a former Air Force pilot and Delta Air Lines executive, was sworn in to lead the FAA in Washington on Monday, Aug. 12. Dickson pledged that safety would be his highest priority, and he said the Boeing 737 Max jetliner would not return to service until he was convinced it is safe to fly.
“The FAA is not following any timeline for returning the aircraft to service,” he said. “Rather, we’re going where the facts lead us and diligently ensuring that all technology and training is is present and correct before the plane returns to passenger service.”
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao conducted the swearing in. Chao said the two overseas accidents of the Boeing 737 Max, which claimed more than 340 lives, shows “the FAA cannot take its global safety leadership position for granted.” However, she was confident that Dickson and his team were ready to take on the challenge.
Dickson said, “At this moment, an entire fleet of U.S. made aircraft is grounded due to two tragic actions overseas. My heart and my prayers go out to the families of those who perished in Indonesia and Ethiopia. And again, I want to again be clear I’m absolutely committed that the FAA is a safety driven organization, and safety is my highest priority. This plane will not fly in commercial service again until I’m completely assured that it is safe to do so.”
Dickson was confirmed by the Senate 52-40 to lead the FAA after overcoming Democratic opposition. He spent 27 years at Delta, first as a pilot and later overseeing pilots as the senior vice president of flight operations until he retired last fall.
During a question and answer session after his swearing-in, he said that voluntary reporting programs should be “very robust and supported,” calling them a top priority.
He said, “The FDA is not following any timeline for returning the aircraft to service.” Rather they will let the “facts lead them and diligently ensuring that all technology and training is present and correct before the plane returns to passenger service.”
Includes reporting from The Associated Press