Washington, D.C. — Senator Ted Budd (R-NC) has joined a letter from members of the Senate and House of Representatives who are pilots, urging President Biden to withdraw the nomination of Phillip Washington to serve as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The signers of this letter include:
- Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC)
- Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
- Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX)
- Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX)
- Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX)
- Rep. John Warren “Jack” Bergman (R-MI)
- Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL)
- Rep. Scott Franklin (R-FL)
- Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA)
- Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK)
- Rep. John James (R-MI)
- Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA)
- Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT)
- Rep. Rich McCormick (R-GA)
On March 1, 2023, Senator Budd asked Mr. Washington seven questions on aviation policy and he was unable to answer any of them.
As pilots who have collectively logged tens of thousands of flight hours, including for some of us in the military, we write to urge you to withdraw the nomination of Phillip Washington to serve as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While Mr. Washington honorably served our nation in the Army, he did not serve in an aviation unit. He is not a pilot, has zero aviation safety experience, and is entirely unqualified to lead the federal agency responsible for keeping the flying public safe.
The FAA cannot afford to be led by someone who needs on-the-job training, especially at a time when our aviation system is facing tremendous safety challenges such as multiple near-misses by airlines and the first nationwide ground stop of aircraft since 9/11. Congress has long recognized this fact. That’s why federal law requires that the FAA Administrator “have experience in a field directly related to aviation.” (49 U.S.C. § 106(c)(3)). As a result, FAA Administrators have typically had decades of aviation experience.
In stark contrast, Mr. Washington, has never flown a plane, never worked for an airline or an aircraft manufacturer, and never served as an air traffic controller. His aviation experience is limited to working at the Denver airport for less than two years. In that role, Mr. Washington is primarily responsible for non-aviation matters, such as the airport’s shops, restaurants, parking, and buildings. At his recent confirmation hearing, he demonstrated how little he knows about aviation when he repeatedly failed to answer simple aviation questions, including about safety and airports.
From our experience as pilots, we know the vital role the FAA Administrator plays in ensuring safe air travel for the American people. Mr. Washington is woefully unqualified to fill this role. We urge you to withdraw his nomination and select a nominee with the necessary aviation knowledge, experience, and expertise to fulfill the FAA’s important public safety mission.