NBAA bolsters FAA’s UAS integration efforts
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has welcomed the FAA’s selection of noted aviation professionals Marke "Hoot" Gibson and Earl Lawrence to lead the agency’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office and spearhead efforts to safely introduce UAS into the nation's airspace.
“NBAA’s long-standing position has been that any introduction plan for UAS be thoughtful, deliberative and focused on safety,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “These two aviation professionals will bring their diverse backgrounds and perspectives to a very complex issue, and we are encouraged by these actions to bolster the agency’s work to safely integrate UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS).”
In his new position as executive director of the UAS Integration Office, Lawrence will directly oversee the agency’s efforts to safely introduce UAS into the NAS. Most recently, he served as manager of the FAA’s Small Airplane Directorate, overseeing 17 aircraft certification and manufacturing district offices in 21 states.
Lawrence previously held government advocacy positions at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), where he was instrumental to the creation of the light sport aircraft and sport pilot initiatives. He also helped launch the effort to rewrite Part 23 certification requirements for general aviation aircraft.
As senior advisor on UAS integration, Gibson will report to FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker. Most recently, Gibson served as executive director of the non-profit NextGen institute, a joint government-industry partnership advising the FAA on its effort to implement a modern, GPS-based ATC system.
Gibson, who in 2011 retired from a 33-year career in the U.S. Air Force with the rank of major general, also has significant experience with the task of integrating UAS into airspace shared with manned aircraft supporting combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“NBAA looks forward to working with Hoot and Earl toward our mutual goal of facilitating the safe and timely introduction of UAS, which includes the assurance that unmanned aircraft must meet equivalent certification, airworthiness and traffic avoidance standards as manned aircraft,” Bolen added.