The US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will consider former Delta Air Lines executive and Air Force veteran Stephen Dickson’s nomination for FAA administrator May 15, paving the way for the agency to receive its first permanent leader since January 2018.

The announcement comes one day after Commerce Committee chairman Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) met with Dickson to discuss his priorities for leading the agency’s 46,000-member workforce.

“President Trump selected Stephen Dickson to lead the FAA because of his experience and impressive qualifications,” Wicker said in a statement. “As a veteran F-15 flight commander in the US Air Force and a retired airline pilot, he has a deep understanding of the aviation industry. During his years heading up operations for one of the leading airlines, he has demonstrated his ability to manage complex organizations and personnel.”

“During our conversation, Mr. Dickson committed to work with me and Congress to ensure that aviation safety is always the priority mission of the agency,” Wicker continued. “I look forward to working with him as he advances through the confirmation process in the Senate.”

In a questionnaire he filled out for the Commerce Committee—which exercises jurisdiction over the FAA—Dickson said he believes the three greatest challenges facing the agency are ensuring the continued safety of the National Airspace System (NAS) in an environment of rapidly changing technology; implementing the NextGen air traffic control (ATC) modernization plan; and safely integrating new entrants into the airspace including unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and commercial space operations.

Dickson said his 12-year tenure as Delta Air Lines SVP-flight operations—which he described as “the safest period in Delta Air Lines’ history”—qualifies him to serve as the country’s top official overseeing the safety of the NAS. He added that, if confirmed, he would “put the same focus on operational performance improvement and execution” that he ingrained in the culture of Atlanta-based Delta’s operational team.

“I have managed the flight operations of one of the largest and most complex air carriers in the world, during a period of tremendous change, including a highly successful merger and the integration of two operating cultures ... The ability to lead change while not compromising safety will be foundational to success,” Dickson wrote.

Ben Goldstein, ben.goldstein@aviationweek.com