Seat-Swapping At FAA Headquarters Includes Top Positions


A report published last Friday (April 8) by British news outlet Reuters suggests that Friday’s reassignment of FAA Aircraft Certification Service Executive Director Earl Lawrence is just one part of an agency-wide management shake-up. Lawrence will reportedly become the deputy assistant administrator of the NextGen Office, which will have significant input on the development of unmanned flight, an area where he has experience as the former executive director of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office.

Lirio Liu, who will take over for Lawrence as executive director of the Aircraft Certification Service effective May 8, comes to the office with more than 30 years’ experience within the FAA as executive director for rulemaking, executive director for operational safety in the Commercial Space Transportation Office and acting deputy associate administrator for the Office of Aviation Safety. She currently serves as acting director for the Office of International Affairs, in charge of international policy within the FAA and international offices in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The seat-shuffling at 800 Independence Avenue also includes former Administrator Steve Dickson, who stepped down on March 31, to be replaced by interim Administrator Billy Nolen, who ceded his role as chief of aviation safety to Chris Rocheleau, who, himself, will be leaving the agency in June after a 20-year stint to become the chief operating officer for the National Business Aviation Association.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Why do I envision the halls of FAA HQ filled with snaking air ducts leading to offices filled with grey people typing on computers with magnifying screens, and “Aquarela do Brasil” playing over the intercom?

  2. I am wondering how all this will affect the FAA’s ability to do its actual job?

    For decades we have worked for reasonable certification processes for GA aircraft and GA STCs to cut expenses and bring standard technologies used in experimental aircraft into mainstream, and we still have delays of years or decades until the technology has once again passed aviation by.
    Examples are the GAMI 100UL fuel approvals, advanced avionics and autopilot certifications which have taken 5 or more years in the certification process longer than anyone has anticipated.

    I suspect we will not be pleased with the “new” FAA hierarchy. I hope I am wrong.

    • With all due respect; the certification and STC process has not been reasonable. It takes much longer than 5 plus years. Witness the administrative nightmare of the GAMI STC of their lead free 100UL fuel. There is a hidden agenda some where in the agency. Just look it up online or view what Mr. Bertorelli filmed at SNF 2022. I attended that presentation and it makes your blood boil over at the FAA morass.