Stephen Dixon, administrator of the candidate for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), speaks during the approval hearing in the Senate for Trade, Science and Transport in Washington, DC, May 15, 2019.
Stephanie Reynolds Bloomberg | Getty Images
Federal Aviation Administrator Steve Dixon, who headed the agency after two deaths Boeing The 737 Max is crashing, resigning on Wednesday, March 31st.
Dixon’s announcement came in the middle of his five-year term. In an email to staff, Dixon said after long separations from his family that “it’s time to dedicate all your time and attention to them.
“As I wrote in my letter to President Biden, it’s time to go home,” he said. Dixon lived in Washington, D.C., heading the agency for 45,000 people while his family was in Georgia.
“Although I have a heavy heart, I am extremely proud of everything we have achieved together over the last few years,” he said. “The agency is in a better position than two years ago and we are important to great success. Serving with you has been the pride of a lifetime.”
Dixon, a former Delta Air Lines captain and head of flight operations, was appointed by President Donald Trump a few days after the second of two fatal crashes of the best-selling Boeing 737 Max.
The two crashes killed 346 people and plunged the FAA into crisis due to aircraft approval and close relations with Boeing. Dixon was tasked with improving the FAA’s reputation and enhancing its safety culture.
In late December 2019, then-Boeing CEO Dennis Mullenburg was fired after regulators said the planes would return aircraft to operation by the end of the year, which led to Dixon getting dressed in Washington, said people familiar with the matter.
Approval came only a year later. Dixon oversaw Max’s return to service in late 2020, lifting a 20-month ban on airplane flights around the world, a few months later than Boeing executives had anticipated. He is the plane was flying in September 2019 after he said he would not issue aircraft for maintenance unless he himself operated the aircraft.
Dixon also ran the agency for the past two years of the coronavirus pandemic, when the number of passengers dropped and airlines suffered record losses.
The dispute led to a deal at 11 p.m. suspend deployment near airports as the FAA worked to approve aircraft types, although some carriers have been forced to cut flights.
“Steve was a regular and qualified FAA captain, and his stay was marked by the unwavering commitment of the FAA Security Mission and the 45,000 staff who work tirelessly every day to carry it out,” said Transport Minister Pete Buttigig. “We are grateful for his many years of service to our country and for his lifelong commitment to making our aviation system the best and safest in the world.”