The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has named Marke “Hoot” Gibson and Earl Lawrence to executive-level positions focused on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) integration into national airspace.
Gibson will become the senior advisor on UAS integration, a position established to focus on external outreach and education, inter-agency initiatives and an enterprise-level approach to FAA management of UAS integration efforts. He will report directly to the FAA deputy administrator.
Earl Lawrence will become the director of the UAS integration office within the FAA’s aviation safety organization. He will lead the FAA’s efforts to safely and effectively integrate UAS into the nation’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. Before coming to the agency in 2010, he had been vice president for industry and regulatory affairs at the Experimental Aircraft Association since 1994.
The appointments come on the heels of the retirement of James H. Williams, who had served as manager of the FAA’s UAS integration office since 2012 and spent more than 25 years at the FAA.
Both executives will assume their positions later this month.
“I am encouraged by the appointments of these two highly qualified public servants to further develop public policy for unmanned aircraft systems,” notes Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. “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.”
He adds, “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.”