Global law firm Dentons has named James H. Williams, previously manager of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) integration office, a principal in the firm's public policy and regulation practice.
In this role, Williams will advise clients on aviation technology and regulatory and compliance issues, with particular emphasis on the military, consumer and commercial use of unmanned aircraft. He will be resident in the firm's Tysons office in McLean, Va.
Williams joins Dentons following more than 25 years of service with the FAA, where he held a top-secret security clearance. In 2012, he became manager of the FAA's newly created UAS integration office, the single agency focal point for all UAS-related activities, to develop and coordinate solutions to the challenges presented by drones across the FAA and external organizations.
In this capacity, says Dentons, Williams was instrumental in improving interagency cooperation to expand unmanned military and commercial aircraft access to U.S. airspace and served as the agency's spokesperson on all UAS-related issues. This includes briefing congressional members and their staff on the FAA's activities related to unmanned aircraft, as well as preparing the FAA administrator for congressional hearings and testifying before the House Aviation Subcommittee Congressional Roundtable and the House Science Committee.
He began his career at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he worked in the Mission Control Center and was responsible for real-time problem solving related to space shuttle systems. In 1981, he participated in the first-ever space shuttle mission – STS-1, an orbital space flight.
‘Federal, state and local policy surrounding unmanned aircraft is still in its infancy and represents one of the most significant changes in aviation since the development of the jet engine,’ says Ambassador Gordon D. Giffin, chair of Dentons' U.S. public policy and regulation practice. ‘Jim's unique perspective and insight in this emerging area will be critical to clients across the firm as regulation of this powerful technology takes shape in the years to come.’