The outgoing FAA administrator, Michael Huerta, had his last day at work on January 6th. Though an official replacement has yet to be named, deputy administrator Daniel Elwell has stepped into the role of acting administrator, and his elevation casts doubt on the continuing strong relationship between the FAA and general aviation.
Elwell was appointed to the deputy administrator position last June. He is a retired U.S. Air Force pilot and former American Airlines captain. His experience in government includes serving as the Assistant Administrator for Policy, Planning, and Environment at the FAA and as Senior Advisor on Aviation to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
Elwell also worked as Senior Vice President for Safety, Security, and Operations at Airlines for America (A4A). What that might mean for GA remains to be seen—A4A has previously backed proposals for both user fees and ATC privatization, two proposals against which the GA community is almost unanimously united.
Huerta served as deputy and then acting administrator for several years. He left to praise from a wide array of of aviation organizations—including NBAA, AOPA and NATA—for his contributions to safety, consensus-building and the advancement of aviation technology. His tenure as FAA administrator has included some of the safest years in general aviation history.
Though not a part of the cabinet, the FAA administrator is a position that requires approval from the Senate, a process that has been slow with the administration of President Trump. The administration has yet to pick a nominee for the position.
Learn more at the FAA.