Trump nominates former Delta executive to lead FAA

Trump nominates former Delta executive to lead FAA
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE on Tuesday nominated former Delta Air Lines executive Steve Dickson to lead the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The announcement comes at a critical time for the FAA, which as been the subject of questions and criticism over its handling of Boeing's 737 Max 8 aircraft.

A 737 Max 8 was involved in an Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this month that killed 157 people, and in a Lion Air crash in Indonesia last October that left 189 people dead.

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The FAA insisted the planes were safe in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash amid mounting political pressure and after numerous countries opted to ground the aircraft pending an investigation. The Trump administration eventually followed suit and temporarily halted use of the planes.

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoDemocratic senator will introduce bill mandating social distancing on flights after flying on packed plane Sanders calls for social distancing, masks and disinfection on planes as flights operate at full capacity Pence addresses 16 new citizens at pre-Independence Day naturalization ceremony MORE confirmed Tuesday that she's asked the department's watchdog to audit the FAA's certification process for the Boeing 737 Max 8.

Dickson will require Senate confirmation before officially taking the job. A former Air Force pilot, he retired last year as Delta's senior vice president of flight operations.

Dickson's nomination comes roughly 14 months after the last administrator, Michael Huerta, departed at the conclusion of his five-year term. Daniel Elwell has led the agency in an acting capacity since then.

Elwell is a former military and airline pilot who has worked closely with Chao prior to and during his tenure as acting administrator.

Trump, who launched the long-defunct Trump Shuttle airline service decades ago and has periodically injected himself into the conversation on aviation safety, reportedly considered his former personal pilot for the post but later abandoned the idea.