by Dave Weiman
Published in Midwest Flyer – February/March 2018 issue
WASHINGTON, DC – Former airline pilot, military pilot, and airline lobbyist, Daniel Elwell, was appointed the acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) effective in January. Elwell replaced FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, who was appointed by former President Obama in 2013 to lead the agency for five years.
Elwell, who was an Air Force lieutenant colonel, and a former commercial airline pilot with American Airlines, was appointed FAA’s deputy administrator by President Trump in June 2017. Before joining the FAA, Elwell was senior vice president for safety, security and operations with Airlines for America (A4A), the leading trade group representing most of the nation’s major airlines. Prior to A4A, Elwell was vice president of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) from 2008-2013. In this role, Elwell represented civil aerospace manufacturers and led policy development and advocacy for more than 300 AIA member companies.
Before that, Elwell was an assistant administrator at the FAA for policy, planning and environment during the George W. Bush Administration. He later went on to found an aviation consulting group, Elwell & Associates.
Elwell was a pilot with American Airlines for 16 years, flying DC-10s, MD-80s, and B-757/767s. While maintaining his proficiency as an MD-80 captain, he served as managing director for International and Government Affairs at American Airlines. It is not known if Elwell has any general aviation experience whatsoever.
The Trump Administration has been advocating the privatization of the air traffic control (ATC) system as part of FAA reauthorization, but the proposal has remained stalled in Congress. General aviation groups believe that if the ATC system is privatized, it will be controlled by the airline industry. Certainly, the appointment of Elwell to the top FAA post could be a step in that direction.