The Commercial Drone Alliance has appointed a new chairman of the board, Laura Ponto, who serves as head of public policy and regulatory affairs for Project Wing at X.
Ponto, whose term begins immediately, previously spent more than 10 years in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Chief Council, most recently as senior legislative counsel. She worked directly with Congress and the White House and was asked to serve as counsel on detail to the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation during the last FAA reauthorization. Before entering the legislative arena, Laura was a trial attorney and served as Special Assistant United States Attorney.
Project Wing is part of X, an innovation lab formerly known as Google[x], which incubates new breakthroughs in science or technology. Project Wing’s initiatives include drone deliveries and unmanned aircraft systems traffic management.
According to the alliance, the commercial drone industry is growing quickly but still faces legal and policy headwinds. In turn, Ponto’s experience guiding one of the most innovative companies in the space will be a tremendous asset, the group says.
“The Commercial Drone Alliance’s work is crucial to the growth of this industry and the realization of all this technology has to offer,” states Ponto. “I’m very pleased to lead the board and work with such a talented group of people. We are committed to connecting policymakers and innovators to unlock the potential of drones and safely integrate them into the national airspace.”
Formed in May of last year, the Commercial Drone Alliance is co-led by Gretchen West and Lisa Ellman, both of Hogan Lovells LLP.
“We’re extremely fortunate to gain a leader of Laura’s caliber to drive the alliance forward in pursuit of its mission,” says West. “Her depth of experience in government policymaking and private-sector innovation perfectly aligns her with our goal of delivering value to the commercial end-user community.”
“We’re entering a critical point for this industry, and having Laura as the alliance’s chairman will greatly benefit us and the industry at large,” adds Ellman. “Developing policies that help the commercial drone space flourish and getting them implemented in a challenging political environment will take expertise, determination and a breadth of knowledge. With her deep FAA experience combined with her current role at X, Laura brings all of that and more to the table, and together with our members, we’ll be in a tremendous position to advance our agenda.”