April 2, 2023
commercial drone alliance

commercial drone allianceThe Commercial Drone Alliance has announced that Laura Ponto, the Head of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs for Project Wing at X, has been appointed to serve as Chairman of the Board.

The Commercial Drone Alliance is a 501c6 non-profit dedicated to enabling commercial drone market growth.  The group, co-led by industry veterans Gretchen West and Lisa Ellman of international law firm Hogan Lovells, is focused on education and advocacy work, removing barriers for the adoption of commercial drone applications.

X is the semi-secret R&D facility founded by Google in 2010, now operating as a subsidiary of Google’s restructured company Alphabet. Project Wing is the name of the company’s ambitious drone program, which is developing innovative delivery drones and working with researchers and regulators on UTM and drone integration solutions.  Project Wing drones were tested last year on the Virginia Tech campus.

Ponto is an industry leader who has garnered respect in the aviation industry and government.  A 10-year veteran of the FAA Office of Chief Counsel, most recently as Senior Legislative Counsel, she has worked directly with Congress on FAA Reauthorization and other critical issues.

“The commercial drone industry is growing quickly, but still faces legal and policy headwinds driven by current events,” says the announcement. “Ms. Ponto’s experience guiding one of the most innovative companies in the space will be a tremendous asset as the Alliance enters a new phase of educating and advising policymakers and delivering value to commercial drone end-users.”

“The Commercial Drone Alliance’s work is crucial to the growth of this industry, and the realization of all this technology has to offer,” said Laura Ponto, Chairman of the Board, Commercial Drone Alliance. “I’m very pleased to lead the Board and work with such a talented group of people. We are committed to connecting policymakers and innovators to unlock the potential of drones and safely integrate them into the national airspace.”

“We’re extremely fortunate to gain a leader of Laura’s caliber to drive the Alliance forward in pursuit of its mission,” said Gretchen West, co-executive director for the Commercial Drone Alliance. “Her depth of experience in government policy making and private sector innovation perfectly aligns her with our goal of delivering value to the commercial end-user community.”

“We’re entering a critical point for this industry and having Laura as the Alliance’s Chairman will greatly benefit us and the industry at large,” said Lisa Ellman, co-executive director for the Commercial Drone Alliance. “Developing policies that help the commercial drone space flourish and getting them implemented in a challenging political environment will take expertise, determination and a breadth of knowledge. With her deep FAA experience combined with her current role at X, Laura brings all of that and more to the table and together with our members, we’ll be in a tremendous position to advance our agenda.”