The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced Earl Lawrence’s promotion to the Agency’s Executive Director for Aircraft Certification. Lawrence was previously Executive Director for the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office. He succeeds Dorenda Baker, who retired Nov. 30 after a distinguished aviation safety career.
Jay Merkle, Deputy Vice President for the FAA Air Traffic Organization’s Program Management Office, will become the new head of UAS Integration. The appointments are effective 9 December and both executives will report to FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami.
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.
The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office coordinates the development of regulations, policies, programs, and procedures to enable the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.