Cantwell, Democrats: Phil Washington is a Proven Leader With a Mission for Safety

March 1, 2023

His deep experience, reputation for results, decades of service, make him the Administrator FAA needs now


Senator Cantwell’s Transcript and Video

Phil Washington’s Testimony

Aviation Organizations and Unions Supporting Phil Washington’s Nomination


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation nomination hearing for Phil Washington, President Biden’s nominee to be the next Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Committee, and other Committee Democratic members focused on the nominee’s qualifications and extensive history leading complex transportation systems, ensuring that safety is a top priority for the nation’s aviation safety Administrator.

“The safety mission of the FAA starts at the top with the Administrator and I hope to hear from you, Mr. Washington, about your vision for making sure that the FAA is the gold standard in aviation safety,” said Sen. Cantwell in her opening remarks. “You represent a great career that we much appreciate. Mr. Washington is a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army where he rose to the rank of Command Sergeant Major, the highest noncommissioned officer rank an enlisted soldier can achieve and he would be the first African American confirmed to serve as the FAA Administrator.”


Watch Sen. Cantwell’s Opening Remarks

“My experience as CEO of the third busiest airport in the world, Denver International Airport with 35,000 workers, translates well to the FAA. During the aviation challenges of the last several months, travelers through my airport have not asked me how much direct aviation experience I had. Instead, they asked me where their luggage was, why their flight was delayed or canceled, and how their families would survive in my airport during rigid nights. We engaged with our partners, worked as a team, and took care of travelers at my airport,” said Phil Washington in his testimony.

Phil Washington continued: “The FAA is at a crossroads – an agency that must protect the safest era in aviation, modernize its technology, lift employee morale while staffing up, and maintain its global leadership in aviation. We need permanent leadership at the top of the FAA to address the challenges that we have seen in the last several years. If confirmed, I will draw on a career spanning almost 45 years to be that leader. The safety of the traveling public will remain my top priority – as it has been for me leading the third largest airport in the world, two large transit agencies, and men and women in uniform.”

Washington talked about his 45 years of experience, which includes leading large transportation systems in Denver and Los Angeles, managing multi-million dollar projects to expand public transit, and a 24-year career in the U.S. Army where he rose to the rank of Command Sergeant Major, the highest non-commissioned officer rank an enlisted soldier can achieve.

As the current CEO of the Denver International Airport, the world’s third busiest airport, Washington was introduced by Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, both D-Colo., who attested to his leadership and how he transformed Denver’s transit system over the last few decades as leader of the Denver Regional Transportation District and now Denver International Airport. Also in attendance supporting Washington was Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

“He's built a reputation of coming into organizations filled with challenges and successfully transforming them into successes. He takes on the big complex problems and gets results. This is the kind of person we want in our federal management system,” said Sen. Hickenlooper.