Last updated: 02:58 PM ET, Fri September 04 2015

FAA Names Two To Lead Unmanned Aircraft Program

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | September 04, 2015

FAA Names Two To Lead Unmanned Aircraft Program

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The Federal Aviation Administration, looking for better and safer ways to integrate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into U.S. airspace, has tabbed two men to lead the task.

Marke “Hoot” Gibson and Earl Lawrence have been appointed to two executive-level positions – Gibson will become the senior advisor on UAS Integration, a position established to focus on external outreach and education, and Lawrence will become the director of the UAS Integration Office within the FAA's Aviation Safety organization.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is pleased that the FAA continues to take UAS seriously.

“I am encouraged by the appointments of these two highly qualified public servants to further develop public policy for unmanned aircraft systems,” says Brian Wynne, AUVSI president and CEO. “Mr. Gibson’s service in the Air Force and Mr. Lawrence’s experience as director of the FAA Small Airplane Directorate will provide valuable knowledge, perspective and insight as the commercial UAS industry seeks to get off the ground.”

Wynne says the appointments of these positions are a sign of the growth and importance of the UAS industry in the aviation community. He notes UAS are projected to create more than 100,000 jobs in the first decade following integration into the U.S. airspace, which prioritizes establishing the kind of regulatory environment where UAS can thrive.

“It is our hope that increasing resources and staff focused on UAS will allow the FAA to quickly finalize its anticipated rules on small UAS,” he said. “AUVSI and its members look forward to working with Mr. Gibson and Mr. Lawrence, so that these and future rulemakings safely integrate UAS into the U.S. airspace.”

Gibson previously served as executive director of the NextGen Institute, which provides professional services to the UAS Joint Program Development Office. He has also owned his own aviation consulting firm, and held numerous senior command and staff positions during a 33-year U.S. Air Force career.

During almost five years as director of the FAA Small Airplane Directorate, Lawrence was responsible for 17 aircraft certification and manufacturing district offices in 21 states from Alaska to Florida. 

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