The Atlantan’s nomination had been rumored for months. Trump was also reportedly eyeing his personal pilot for the role, a proposition that drew resistance from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The roughly 45,000-person agency has been led by an acting head since January 2018.
The FAA has recently faced a barrage of criticism about its safety standards and cozy relationship with airline manufacturers in the wake of two fatal crashes of Boeing 737 Max jetliners in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Trump grounded the Max 8 and 9 planes last week.
Prior to the announcement, the FAA had stopped short of grounding the planes. It said its review showed “no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft.”
Delta doesn’t have Boeing’s Max 8 or 9 airplanes in its fleet. But Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, is among the U.S. airlines that fly the Boeing 737 Max 8.
In addition to investigating the recent 737 Max jetliner crashes, the FAA is also at the center of new drone regulations and talks to overhaul of the air traffic control system.
While at Delta, Dickson spoke out against a push to privatize the latter. In 2016, he said separating air traffic control from the FAA would disrupt work on the modernization of the air traffic control system known as NextGen. He said at the time that such a move would be “reckless” and added “we believe the more that is known of the details of this proposal the more opposition it will face.”
Delta softened its stance against air traffic control privatization the following year.
Dickson is the first senior airline executive to be appointed to lead the agency in roughly three decades, according to the Wall Street Journal.