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Trump’s personal pilot ‘in the mix’ to lead the Federal Aviation Administration

President Trump returns a salute as he steps off Marine One during his arrival on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington last summer. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
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President Trump’s personal pilot is “in the mix” to lead the Federal Aviation Administration, a White House official confirmed Sunday night.

Axios first reported that John Dunkin, Trump’s longtime pilot, who flew him around the country on a Boeing 757 during the 2016 campaign, is on the Trump administration’s shortlist to head the FAA, which regulates civil aviation in the United States.

A White House official told The Washington Post that Dunkin has had a preliminary conversation with administration officials about the job, but said Trump is not putting his thumb on the scale in the selection process. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel issue, said Dunkin is more qualified for the job than many people may realize.

“John Dunkin isn’t just a pilot,” an unnamed administration official told Axios. “He’s managed airline and corporate flight departments, certified airlines from start-up under FAA regulations, and oversaw the Trump presidential campaign’s air fleet, which included managing all aviation transportation for travel to 203 cities in 43 states over the course of 21 months.”

Trump has cited Dunkin’s expertise before.

During a meeting with top airline executives a year ago, he relayed that one of his most trusted sources about the nation’s aviation system was his personal pilot.

“I have a pilot who's a real expert,” Trump said at the meeting. “My pilot, he's a smart guy, and he knows what's going on.”

Dan Elwell, a former FAA deputy administrator, has been serving as acting administrator since last month, when the five-year term of Michael Huerta ended. Elwell is a former airline executive. Huerta previously held senior positions in the Transportation Department.

Others under consideration for the FAA leadership post include Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), a licensed pilot who serves as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and who has served as co-chairman of the General Aviation Caucus in the House.