March 19, 2019 / 8:16 PM / 3 months ago

Trump taps former Delta executive to head aviation regulator

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight from Los Angeles lands at Reagan National Airport shortly after an announcement was made by the FAA that the planes were being grounded by the United States in Washington, U.S. March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will nominate former Delta Air Lines executive Steve Dickson to head the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the White House said on Tuesday, as the aviation agency grapples with fallout from two fatal crashes in Boeing airplanes.

Reuters reported on March 8 that Trump was expected to soon nominate Dickson to run the 45,000-employee agency that oversees U.S. airspace. Dickson left Delta in October after 27 years.

The FAA, which has been run by an acting chief for 14 months, is facing mounting questions over its certification of the Boeing 737 MAX from federal prosecutors and lawmakers. Dickson’s nomination had been in the works for months before the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Transportation Department’s inspector general office said it planned to audit the FAA certification of the Boeing 737 MAX.

The office is developing the scope and objectives of the review and is expected to formally announce and begin audit work as soon as possible, an official told Reuters.

The FAA declined to comment, while Boeing said it would cooperate in the audit.

Last year, Reuters and other outlets reported that Trump was considering his longtime personal pilot, John Dunkin, to lead the FAA, an idea that came under criticism from some lawmakers.

At Delta, Dickson oversaw more than 13,000 pilots and an internal support team of 400 employees. He flew the A320, B27, B737, B757 and B767 during his career at Delta and is a former U.S. Air Force officer and F-15 fighter pilot.

The FAA is dealing with a number of other issues, including how to integrate drones into the nation’s airspace and modernizing air traffic control.

Reporting by David Shepardson and Eric Beech; Editing by Sandra Maler and Rosalba O'Brien

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