Press Releases

What They’re Saying: Leaders Highlight Phil Washington’s Experience and Qualifications to Serve as FAA Administrator

Mar 21, 2023

In case you missed it, leaders from across the country and aviation sector have expressed support for Phil Washington’s nomination to serve as the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee is set to vote on his nomination tomorrow.

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.

For more statements of support, click HERE.

Hickenlooper’s introduction remarks at Washington’s confirmation hearing in the Commerce 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… 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.”

Senator Michael Bennet’s introduction remarks at Washington’s confirmation hearing in the Commerce Committee:

“This is the perfect time for a leader like Phil Washington, who would bring a proven record for delivering results. He turned around our RTD. He turned around transit in LA County. He’s driving overdue change at DIA and I have no doubt he would do the same at the FAA.

“Any fair assessment of his career and of his character would see a nominee with integrity, drive, and a record of results at every institution he’s led. [Phil] would make an outstanding administrator for the FAA and I wholeheartedly endorse his nomination.”

Former FAA Administrators Michael Huerta, Jane Garvey, and Linda Daschle:

“As former leaders of the FAA, we know how important it is to have a Senate-confirmed Administrator… We also know what it takes to effectively run the FAA.

“Mr. Washington, as the leader of the world’s third busiest airport, has the necessary aviation safety experience to be Administrator. Running an airport involves overseeing large-scale infrastructure projects and managing business operations. But, to be clear, the safety mission is at the top of the daily agenda for every airport.

“The FAA has gone through a difficult period and Mr. Washington offers a fresh perspective for setting a new course. Having a 30,000-foot view does not require getting a pilot’s license. The FAA needs leadership, and it needs it now.” 

Current Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen:

“I do believe that Phil Washington is fully qualified. I support the President and I support the nomination.”

John Putnam, General Counsel for the Department of Transportation:

“Leading an organization at a crucial time requires a person with a track record of recruiting and motivating personnel, setting audacious goals, and executing them while never losing sight of the mission. Phil Washington, a highly-decorated Army veteran with significant experience successfully leading, managing, and innovating large, complex organizations – including a critical part of our aviation system, airports – has done this with four major organizations. If anything, the fresh perspective he will bring to his top-to-bottom assessment of the FAA’s culture and operations will be a benefit. Mr. Washington is fully qualified and eligible under 49 U.S.C. § 106 to serve as FAA Administrator. The Administration encourages his swift confirmation.”

Ray LaHood, former Secretary of Transportation and Republican Congressman:

“With Mr. Washington’s extensive background and leadership running large organizations, he is exactly what the FAA needs at this critical time for aviation in our country.

“If confirmed, Mr. Washington will serve as the first Senate-confirmed African American FAA Administrator. But that is not the only unique aspect of Mr. Washington’s nomination. While FAA has been led by truly talented and accomplished administrators, Mr. Washington stands out for having run three large transportation agencies along with his service in the U.S. Army. Mr. Washington dedicated over 24 years of his life in service to our country – rising to the highest noncommissioned military rank of Command Sergeant Major. Service in the military prepared Mr. Washington to develop key leadership skills, from motivating and inspiring teams to ensuring focus and dedication to the mission.

“Having served his country before in uniform, we now need Mr. Washington to serve his country again as FAA Administrator. Mr. Washington has my strong support, and I urge you to move his confirmation through your Committee and before the U.S. Senate.”

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the largest airline union in North America:

“We strongly believe Mr. Washington has the requisite experience and skills to lead the FAA. We applaud President Biden for nominating Mr. Washington to this extremely important agency to our airline union membership.

“We also believe Mr. Washington’s 24 year career in the U.S. Army should be viewed as an asset to the FAA. He retired as Command Sergeant Major, the highest ranking a non-commissioned service-member can achieve, and also received the prestigious Defense Superior Service Medal. His distinguished military service brings added value to the FAA just as thousands of workers in the airline industry with similar backgrounds.”

Airports Council International – North America, which represents more than 300 airports in the U.S. and Canada and more than 400 aviation-related businesses:

“Airports – and the directors that lead them – play crucial roles in aviation safety, as evidenced by tens of billions of dollars of dedicated airport investments in safety projects. From multibillion dollar investments in runway safety areas, airfield lighting systems, runway incursion mitigations, to involvement in local runway safety action teams and the safe execution of multi-billion dollar capital projects, airport commitments to safety are unequivocal.

“In light of the statutory requirement that the FAA administrator ‘have experience in a field directly related to aviation,’ I will submit that airport directors have extensive knowledge and experience in aviation, particularly as it relates to safety. Their knowledge, experience, and leadership in managing complex operations at hundreds of airports around the country is crucial for the United States to maintain the safest air transportation system in the world.”

Transport Workers Union of America, the largest airline workers union in the United States:

“Mr. Washington is exactly the leader that the FAA needs as it navigates the increasingly complex issues facing our national airspace.

“Phil Washington is a proven leader who will serve with honor and distinction. His record of accomplishment as a public administrator speaks for itself. The TWU is proud to support Mr. Washington to be the next FAA Administrator and we hope the Committee will move swiftly to approve his nomination.”

Service Employees International Union, which represents 36,000 airport service employees across the country: 

“With our nation’s aviation system in crisis, we need a strong leader like Phil Washington at the helm of the FAA to shore up the industry and advance solutions that create safer, more resilient airports – especially for the majority Black, brown and immigrant service workers who power our airports.

“At present, our aviation system is in a state of constant dysfunction, leaving travelers and workers alike to contend with record flight cancellations, mountains of lost luggage, system-wide outages and broader travel chaos. At the same time, airport service workers are taking on larger-than-ever workloads for no extra pay.

“Washington has a proven record of leadership managing big organizations while demonstrating a remarkable commitment to creating and sustaining good jobs at our airports. SEIU is proud to endorse Washington to serve as FAA Administrator and urges the Senate to swiftly confirm his nomination.”

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the largest flight attendants union with 50,000 flight attendants across 19 airlines:

“Mr. Washington will bring significant leadership experience and fresh eyes to the FAA at a critical time.

“Safety requires leadership, vigilance, and the entire aviation community fully engaged in our first and most important priority. Mr. Washington’s record and engagement with stakeholders gives me tremendous confidence in his ability to lead us forward for the industry, our world partners, and the traveling public. I urge the Senate to confirm his nomination as soon as possible.”

Association of Professional Flight Attendants, representing American Airlines’ 25,000 flight attendants:

“Mr. Washington brings successful leadership and management skills with large, complex transportation organizations. His leadership has been demonstrated in Denver at the nation’s third busiest airport and other equally complex transit systems as well. He understands what is needed to maintain the safest aviation system in the world.”

Family members of Ethiopian Air Flight 302 crash victims: 

“FAA needs an outsider who can step into leadership vacuums, transform complex organizations, and resist the aviation swamp pressures towards mediocrity and malaise that are driven by self interest and stock price goals. The safety changes sought by our crash families over the past four years were more often hindered rather than helped by the vast majority of the aviation industry organizations and government institutions. Therefore we are not concerned about any lack of direct aviation experience.

“Mr. Washington’s no nonsense leadership, decision making and performance from his military service and his post-military service give us confidence that he can and will spur a transformative safety and quality change in the very large and dysfunctional FAA with a focus upon safety that is not limited to verbal assurances and self protection.”

AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD), which represents 37 transportation unions and millions of aviation workers across the country:

“I have every confidence that Mr. Washington can effectively carry out the duties and responsibilities of this role, including clearing the backlog of regulatory actions while advancing a forward-thinking approach to aviation safety. Since his nomination was announced, he has earned the support of multiple aviation unions, former FAA leaders, and aviation industry organizations, demonstrating his ability to be a coalition builder at a time when we urgently need permanent strong leadership to unite stakeholders around solutions to some of the most pressing safety challenges in our national airspace, including several recent near-miss incidents, staffing issues, and modernization efforts.

“The FAA Administrator position is one of the most critical safety jobs in the Department of Transportation, and we cannot emphasize enough the importance of a swift confirmation. Vacancy of this critical role leaves the aviation industry vulnerable to compromises on safety, and undermines the well-being of workers and the flying public. Again, we urge you to swiftly advance the nomination of Phil Washington for this essential leadership post.”


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