Top F.A.A. Official Says He Will Depart, Aggravating Leadership Void

The administrator of the agency will step down this summer after recent safety concerns and the withdrawal of a leader nominee.

Top F.A.A. Official Says He Will Depart, Aggravating Leadership Void

WASHINGTON - Billy Nolen said on Friday that he would leave the Federal Aviation Administration this summer. This will worsen the leadership void within the agency.

This move increases pressure on the White House for a permanent leader to lead the agency which faces a variety of staffing and safety challenges.

Since Stephen Dickson resigned from his position as a former Delta Air Lines executive appointed by Donald J. Trump a year earlier, the aviation regulator has not had a permanent leader.

Phillip A. Washington withdrew from consideration last month after Republicans attacked his qualifications for the position. The Republicans argued that Mr. Washington was not qualified to hold the post of F.A.A. because he lacked aviation experience and questions were raised about his involvement in a Los Angeles corruption investigation.

Ted Cruz, Texas' top Republican senator on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, was against Mr. Washington’s nomination, but he suggested he would back Mr. Nolen for the post, citing Mr. Nolen's long career and expertise. Mr. Nolen previously worked for the F.A.A. Associate administrator for aviation safety.

The Wall Street Journal reported Mr. Nolen’s departure earlier. The agency is facing challenges in flight scheduling, shortages of staff and safety concerns, including a number of near-collisions on the runway.

The F.A.A. issued a safety alert after the near misses. After the near misses, the F.A.A. issued a safety warning calling on airlines to maintain 'continued vigilanteness'. Although the agency did not report a significant rise in near collisions this year, Mr. Nolen said that it was not something the public had 'come expect' during a period of unprecedented safety for the U.S. Air Transportation System.

A Southwest Airlines operational meltdown around Christmas, and a F.A.A. A recent technological problem with Southwest Airlines led to the delay of more than 2,000 flights on Tuesday, which is more than half its daily schedule.

Mr. Nolen announced earlier this year that he would be forming a team of safety experts to review aviation in the United States. This included a look at the air traffic system.

In a Friday statement, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that Billy is a great leader, an expert and a dedicated servant of the public. He has maintained safety as F.A.A.'s top priority. "He has kept safety as the F.A.A.

Are you in the aviation industry? The Times wants your story. You can read more about the Times' reporting by clicking here. We are especially interested in hearing from those who currently work (or have worked) for airports, airlines or government agencies who help to keep the aviation industry running. Your submission will not be published without your consent.