Delaney on FAA: President Trump Did Exactly the Opposite of What a Good Leader Must Do

Thursday, March 14, 2019
CONTACT: Ahmed Elsayed, 301-500-8642,

FRIENDSHIP HEIGHTS, MD –   The Federal Aviation Administration yesterday announced that it was banning Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes from operating in US airspace.  The decision was made days after an Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people – the second fatal crash involving the same model jet  – and only after several other countries had already announced they were grounding the planes. The FAA has been led by an Acting Director for more than a year because the president has failed to nominate someone to be FAA Administrator.  The first name President Trump publicly floated as nominee was his personal pilot, John Dunkin, who was publicly criticized as not having the right qualifications or experience for the job.    

John Delaney releases the following statement:

“April and I were saddened to hear of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, and we send our condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones.  As the world mourned, it also looked for assurance from our government that airline travel is safe. Our president utterly failed in that job.

“President Trump spent the last several days tweeting uninformed opinions about whether or not planes are becoming too complex to fly – statements that are wrong on their face, and that only served to create panic among the public – and trading personal calls with Boeing’s CEO.  Instead, Trump long ago should have nominated someone to run the FAA, and then gotten out of their way.  

“President Trump irresponsibly tweeted that ‘Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly.’ That statement is wrong on its face; technological advances have only made air travel safer over the past several decades.  In sending such an uninformed, off-the-cuff tweet, President Trump did exactly the opposite of what a good leader must do: tell the truth, and give citizens confidence in the competence of government to protect them.    

“I am grateful for the hardworking professionals at the FAA, and I believe they ultimately made the right decision in deciding to ground the 737 MAX while they fully investigate whether there are any safety issues with that airplane that must be addressed.  However, they took far too long to respond. Without taking away anything from the FAA Acting Administrator, one reason for the delay to respond is likely due to the fact that more than a year after the last FAA Administrator left office, President Trump has failed to nominate a replacement.  The one name that was publicly reported as his first pick for the role, John Dunkin, was Trump’s personal pilot – someone lacking in the qualifications necessary to lead an agency that is responsible for ensuring the safety of millions.

“Trump should follow through on his campaign promise to hire the ‘best people’ to run government agencies.  He also should let those agencies focus on their critical missions – such as maintaining the safety of our air travel – free from uninformed presidential speculation and personal deal-making.”