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FAA administrator who oversaw Boeing 737 MAX return resigning

By David Shepardson and Eric M. Johnson

WASHINGTON/SEATTLE (Reuters) -The head of the Federal Aviation Administration who oversaw the return of the Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737 MAX after two fatal crashes grounded the plane and the agency’s zero tolerance toward unruly passengers will resign on March 31, the agency confirmed late Wednesday.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, who took over in August 2019, has faced criticism over the standoff between aviation and telecommunications industries over the deployment of the 5G wireless spectrum.

Dickson, a former Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) executive and pilot, is about half-way through his five-term as the head of the 45,000-employee agency that oversees U.S. airspace.

In late 2020, Dickson personally flew the 737 MAX before he allowed it to return to operations and has repeatedly said Boeing must do more to improve. He has also taken a tough line with Boeing on a number of safety issues.

“After sometimes long and unavoidable periods of separation from my loved ones during the pandemic, it is time to devote my full time and attention to them,” Dickson wrote in an email to staff.

But Dickson has faced criticism from people inside the Biden administration over the 5G aviation standoff. Airlines CEOs on Jan. 17 had warned of an impending “catastrophic” aviation crisis that could have grounded almost all traffic because of the 5G deployment.

Dickson earlier this month conceded before a House panel that the 5G “process did not serve anyone well… It did not serve the aviation community well, certainly the FAA, and it also did not serve the telecommunications industry well. And we certainly need to do better as a country.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Dickson “has been the FAA’s steady and skilled captain, and his tenure has been marked by steadfast commitment to the FAA’s safety mission.”

It is not clear who the Biden administration will tap but some congressional and airline officials say one possibility is C. B. “Sully” Sullenberger, who was confirmed in December to be U.S. representative on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations air safety body.

Sullenberger rose to fame in 2009 as a commercial pilot who safely landed an Airbus A320 on New York’s Hudson (NYSE:HUD) River after hitting a flock of geese – known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight.

Source : Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Steve Dickson, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, speaks at the UK Aviation Club about the Boeing 737 MAX, in London, Britain, February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

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