“As longstanding FAA advocates for safety, Earl Lawrence and Jay Merkle are the right selections at a critical time for emerging aviation technologies,” said FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell. “Their extensive experience will help ensure a safe transition as these new technologies mature and enter our country’s national airspace.”
“Merkle has more than 25 years of engineering and program management experience in both the FAA and the defense industry. In his previous position within the Air Traffic Organization, Merkle supported the UAS Integration Office and was an architect of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program. Prior to that, Merkle was a key manager in the FAA’s NextGen Air Transportation System Office,” according to an FAA press release.
Lawrence is a seasoned aviator with extensive leadership experience. Prior to managing the UAS Integration office, Lawrence was Director of the FAA Small Airplane Directorate and was responsible for 17 aircraft certification and manufacturing district offices in 21 states, the FAA said. And before coming to the FAA in 2010, he served as Vice President for Industry and Regulatory Affairs at the Experimental Aircraft Association.
The UAS Integration Office manages and develops policy, regulation and programs for the safe integration of drones into the National Airspace System, while the Aircraft Certification is responsible for design and manufacturing approvals, along with the continued operational safety of all aviation products in the United States, the FAA said.
Both executives will report to FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami.