April 2, 2023

President Trump has appointed a new Deputy Administrator at the FAA.  Washington veteran Dan Elwell was sworn in this week, taking on the second highest-ranking post at the FAA.

The post was previously held by Obama appointee Michael Whitaker.  Whitaker left his post a year ago, with two years left to run in the five year position.

Elwell previously acted as the FAA Assistant Administrator for Policy, Planning and Environment, leaving that position in 2008.  A graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Elwell has served as SVP for Safety, Security and Operations at Airlines for America, and VP at the Aerospace Industries Association.  He has been President and Managing Partner of an aviation consulting firm, and most recently has acted as Senior Advisor on Aviation to the US Secretary of Transportation, Elain Chao.

“Dan’s insight and experience will serve the FAA and public well,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “He has a strong background as a military and civilian pilot, as well as holding key leadership positions within the aerospace industry.”

Elwell takes the post at a period of change for the FAA.  Huerta’s term as Administrator will expire next January.  And with FAA Reauthorization again on the table for the fall, the agency faces major organizational issues including the proposed privatization of air traffic control and criticism over the agencies attempts at modernization, including the NextGen program.

President Trump has been a vocal opponent of current FAA leadership, calling the NextGen system “out of whack” and saying that the agency “didn’t know what the hell they were doing.”  Trump has also said that he would prefer a professional pilot to head the FAA.

Last week, the President met with executives of drone companies and other startups to discuss strategies to move industry forward: the drone executives first met with the FAA to express their concerns over regulation and the process of drone integration into the NAS.