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Seasoned leaders are tapped to serve in top FAA posts
The NBAA has commended the Biden administration for naming Kathryn Thomson and Polly Trottenberg, two proven leaders, to fill top positions at the FAA.
Acting FAA administrator and US DoT deputy secretary Polly Trottenberg.

The NBAA has commended the Biden administration for naming two proven leaders to fill top positions at the FAA.

US Department of Transportation (DoT) deputy secretary Polly Trottenberg will serve as acting FAA administrator replacing Billy Nolen, who announced his intention to step down from the position earlier this year. Kathryn 'Katie' Thomson will serve as the FAA deputy administrator replacing Brad Mims, who is assuming a new, senior role at the DoT as head of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilisation.

The announcements come as Congress considers the next multi-year FAA reauthorisation bill. The reauthorisation debate is taking place amidst an extraordinary pace of change for the agency and industry, as sweeping new technologies are nearing certification, aviation safety remains a top priority and a new generation of aviation professionals will be needed in the decades to come.

NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen notes that the presence of Trottenberg and Thomson is especially welcome as the industry awaits the nomination of a permanent administrator for the agency. “It is extremely important for the FAA to have proven leaders stepping into the roles of acting FAA administrator and deputy FAA administrator,” he says. “As Billy Nolen departs for the private sector and Brad Mims assumes a new, key role at DoT, Polly Trottenberg and Katie Thomson will be excellent in those positions.”

Bolen also underlines the need for a confirmed administrator to lead the FAA: “The US has the world's largest, safest and most efficient aviation system, and it's important the administration provide stability at the agency by making a timely FAA administrator nomination.”

Trottenberg has served for more than two decades in a public-sector career, including in several top positions at various levels of government. She served from 2014-2020 as transportation commissioner for New York City, managing a large agency that oversees the city's roadways as well as its maritime, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, and preparedness for emerging transportation technologies. She served in the Obama administration as assistant secretary and undersecretary for policy at the DoT, overseeing a portfolio that included roads, railways and aviation.

Thomson has served as FAA chief of staff since February of this year, bringing her longtime expertise in transportation law and managerial experience to the agency. She previously served as DoT general counsel and FAA chief counsel during the Obama administration. In her role at the DoT, she served as director, bipartisan infrastructure law implementation, successfully dedicating more than $600 billion for new and expanded programmes across all transportation modes.

Thanking Nolen and Mims for their contributions to aviation, Bolen says: “Billy and Brad have brought innovative thinking and tireless dedication to their work at the FAA. We look forward to working with them in their new capacities.”

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