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VIDEO: Hickenlooper Introduces Phil Washington at Confirmation Hearing to be FAA Administrator

Mar 1, 2023

“[Phil is] the right man, and nominated at the right time, to lead this critical agency. I look forward to seeing where he can lead the FAA with his bold vision for the future.”

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper introduced Phil Washington at his confirmation hearing in the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee to be the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and advocated for his confirmation to the post as a member of the committee.

“[Phil has] built a reputation of coming into organizations filled with challenges and successfully transforming them into successes. He takes on the big, complex problems and gets results. This is the kind of person we want in our federal management system. For those reasons, I urge this Committee to be thoughtful and objectively look at Phil’s record and what it shows,” said Hickenlooper.

For full video of his remarks, click HERE

Washington is currently the CEO of Denver International Airport. From 2015-2021, Washington was CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. For 15 years prior, Washington worked for Colorado’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), including serving as CEO from 2009-2015. Washington also served in the United States Army for 24 years, stationed at Fort Carson and rose to the rank of Command Sergeant Major.

A full transcript of Hickenlooper’s remarks is available below:

“We need an FAA Administrator who is Senate-confirmed, but also who knows how to get things done. An Administrator who can manage the complex bureaucracy at FAA and prepare for the realities of modern air travel today. Someone who can give us confidence the next time we get on a flight. Someone who will reassure us that we’ll get where we’re going safely, and not have to think about how everything works again. That’s Phil Washington.

“Phil came from humble beginnings, and as Madam Chair mentioned, served 24 years in the Army. He achieved the rank of Command Sergeant Major, the highest rank for enlisted servicemen. Command Sergeant Majors are the people who get things done by organizing and motivating their troops, delivering on the mission, and holding people accountable. He was stationed in Fort Carson in Colorado, the beginning of his relationship with Colorado!

“Our veterans are renowned for their discipline, their leadership, their courage, and their dedication to service. Phil embodies all these traits and more.

“When he led Metro Denver’s Regional Transportation District, which is by far the largest transit agency in the state, he put our city’s transit system back on track. He came in when the flagship FasTrack program was over budget, was behind schedule, beset by problems and complications. When he left, three-quarters was completed or under construction.

“He next took the helm of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the third largest transit system in the country, serving over 220 million passengers annually. Again, another multibillion dollar expansion which was beset by challenges and he got that sorted out. 

“He is now the CEO of Denver International Airport for the last couple years, the third busiest airport in the world, as Madam Chair pointed out. He has transformed the airport’s once aging infrastructure. The Great Hall Project is going to expand DIA’s terminal capacity from 70 million passengers a year to 100 million passengers a year. His program ‘Vision 100’ will support that transition by the end of this decade.

“Phil recognizes growth is more than just expanding terminals and modernizing runways. He’s launched DIA’s Center of Equity & Excellence in Aviation. It’s really the first of its kind training facility to make sure we can grow a diverse workforce and small business pipeline in aviation that does deliver on the combined mission of transportation at the safest possible levels.

“He has not hesitated to act decisively again and again when a crisis strikes. We had the winter storms of 2022 that devastated air travel all across the country and damaged our economy. He immediately launched a rigorous After Action Review between DIA and its major airline partners. This After Action Review will identify the causes to the airline disruption catastrophe and prevent future incidents from happening again.

“That’s the kind of decisive action that we need to see in the FAA. Phil fits the mold of several past Administrators. There have been questions raised as to previous Administrators. Jane Garvey, who was the Administrator under President Clinton, came from the Massachusetts Department of Public Works and led Boston’s Logan Airport. Marion Blakey, who served in the Bush administration, was Administrator of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before coming to the FAA. Michael Huerta oversaw the ports of New York City and San Francisco and had a couple of senior roles within the Department of Transportation before coming to lead the FAA.

“But I think Phil breaks the mold of past FAA Administrators in important ways. He’s not an airline industry insider using this role as a position for the industry to be policing itself. The challenges facing the FAA are those of managing a large complex bureaucracy badly in need of modernization.

“And certainly in that respect, he’s no novice. He’s the CEO of the third-busiest airport in the world. He manages a workforce of roughly 35,000 employees, compared to 45,000 at FAA, so roughly the same size. And he took the role amidst a big expansion project that was running into budget challenges and scheduling challenges, before he came along and he got it back on track. Not to mention his experience in the Army, where he honed his discipline and leadership skills and was recognized for it. 

“He’s built a reputation of coming into organizations filled with challenges and successfully transforming them into successes. He takes on the big, complex problems and gets results. This is the kind of person we want in our federal management system. For those reasons, I urge this Committee to be thoughtful and objectively look at Phil’s record and what it shows. He’s the right man, and nominated at the right time, to lead this critical agency. I look forward to seeing where he can lead the FAA with his bold vision for the future.”

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