FAA associate administrator for aviation safety Margaret "Peggy" Gilligan is retiring at the end of March after a 37-year career with the agency. Gilligan has been the FAA’s chief officer steering safety, oversight and certification since 2009, and before that had been deputy associate administrator of the aviation safety organization for 14 years.
Her organization has a work force of more than 7,000 employees in Washington and offices throughout the world and has an annual budget of more than $1 billion. During her tenure in the deputy associate and associate administrator roles, the agency implemented its “One Level of Safety” initiative, bringing Part 135 scheduled carriers to the standards of 121 mainline carriers. The agency also stood up the Part 91K rule for fractional operations, completed a government/industry review of Part 135 standards and, more recently, issued the final Part 23 rewrite. In addition, her organization has made a major push on safety management systems and taken risk-based approaches to oversight and safety in general.
In announcing her planned departure, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta praised “her knowledge, passion and commitment to ensuring the safety and efficiency of our aviation system.” He added, “During her tenure here, our aviation system has become the model for all modes of transportation and for many other industries. When we think about where aviation safety was versus where it is today, we can all agree that our collaboration with the aviation industry and the safety measures Peggy has championed have had amazing results.”
Gilligan has been recognized with numerous awards for her work in improving safety. These include the Robert J. Collier Trophy that was awarded in May 2009 to Gilligan and her industry co-chair in recognition of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team’s data-driven strategy that is credited with reducing fatal accidents. She also has been recognized with the Roger W. Jones Award for executive leadership
“Peggy has been the heart and soul of the FAA’s effort to improve aviation safety for many years,” said National Air Transportation Association president Martin Hiller. “The results of her work are demonstrated in something the public now takes for granted: ever-improving accident rates. NATA also deeply appreciated her commitment to improving the interaction between the agency and aviation business community and her focus on partnership with industry toward common-sense regulation.”
General Aviation Manufacturers Association president and CEO Pete Bunce agreed. “She has always been willing to work with industry to improve aviation safety, including efforts to use a data-driven approach to dramatically reduce the number of aviation fatalities in the United States. We applaud her for the many contributions she has made."