Finally, some answer to the question of who will replace Billy Nolen at the FAA. Reuters has reported that Deputy U.S. Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg is expected to be tapped as the next Acting Administrator for the FAA.
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While no official announcement has been made, the news comes as the aviation industry anticipates the imminent departure of the current FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen, who will leave the agency at the end of the week. Nolen is reported to be joining passenger eVTOL firm Archer Aviation. Nolen’s departure will leave a vacancy at the top spot in the FAA. The Biden administration has not yet announced another nominee for the permanent position, since top pick and Denver Airport CEO Phil Washington withdrew from the process in March.
Polly Trottenberg is currently Deputy Secretary at the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), supporting Secretary Buttigieg. Trottenberg has experience in both politics and transportation. From 2014 to 2020, Trottenberg served as New York City’s Transportation Commissioner, running a 5,800-person agency responsible for New York City’s extensive organization of transportation infrastructure and services.
Trottenberg has also served in the Obama Administration as the Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation. In the U.S. Senate, she has worked for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Majority Leader Charles Schumer, and Senator Barbara Boxer.
The new Acting Administrator of the FAA takes the spot at a challenging time for the aviation industry, as the US deals with safety incidents, a shortage of air traffic controllers, criticism over this year’s NOTAM system outage, and negotiations for the next FAA Authorization package. For the drone industry, the final deadline for Remote ID looms as discussions over passenger eVTOL use, UTM, and a rule on flight beyond visual line of sight continue. Strong leadership at the FAA is critical to moving the industry forward through the next phase of regulation.