FAA deputy administrator Dan Elwell yesterday stepped in as acting administrator when Michael Huerta’s five-year term as the agency's leader concluded on Saturday. Huerta departed following a more than seven-year run with the agency, beginning in June 2010 as deputy administrator, then acting administrator in December 2011 and ultimately as administrator beginning in 2013. Industry leaders praised Huerta’s efforts to build consensus and forward safety during his tenure.
“Michael has been a steady leader at the FAA during a time of significant change,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “Under his stewardship, the agency has shown demonstrable progress in implementing NextGen, to ensure America’s continued global leadership in aviation; in rewriting Part 23 certification standards, to ensure the safety and affordability of small aircraft; and laying the groundwork for the safe introduction of unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System. These important priorities will be among the pillars of his legacy.”
Bolen further highlighted his role in aviation safety through government/industry collaboration, backing efforts such as the “Compliance Philosophy” that emphasizes correction of unintentional violations rather than enforcement.
“A hallmark of this tenure was his commitment to building consensus around major decisions and willingness to always listen to the needs of the aviation business community, most recently demonstrated by his support of initiatives related to regulatory consistency and a compliance philosophy that emphasizes making the world’s safest system even safer,” agreed National Air Transportation Association president Martin Hiller.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association also credited Huerta for enhancing the collaboration between the controllers’ union and the agency, and as a result benefiting modernization efforts, improving working conditions, and enhancing safety overall.
Elwell, meanwhile, brings substantial background to his new role as acting administrator. A former airline executive with industry, government, and association experience, he returned to the FAA as deputy administrator last summer, after originally serving as assistant administrator for aviation policy, planning, and environment from 2006 to 2008.
Before rejoining the agency, Elwell previously had been president and managing partner of his own consulting firm, Elwell & Associates, and involved with the Trump administration on issues such as the independent air traffic control organization proposal.
He has also served as senior v-p for safety, security, and operations for Airlines for America, as well as managing director, international and government affairs for American Airlines. And he was in the manufacturing sector as vice president of the Aerospace Industries Association.
Further, Elwell has served in the U.S. Air Force, and has collectively amassed 6,000 hours of military and civil time as a pilot.
“Dan's background as a military and commercial pilot and past leadership positions in FAA and the aviation sector ensures a seamless transition to continue the important mission of the FAA,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in announcing the appointment of Elwell to the acting administrator’s role.
Filling in for Elwell at the deputy’s post in an acting capacity will be Carl Burleson, who has been FAA deputy assistant administrator for policy, international, and environment. In addition, Tina Amereihm, FAA deputy assistant administrator for information and technology, was named the FAA chief of staff.