SOCAC from A to Z

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DOT’s Cert Committee Encompasses Spectrum of Industry

The U.S. Department of Transportation has selected officials representing a large swath of the aviation industry to make up its newly formed Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee (SOCAC). Born out of a directive in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, the 22-member panel takes on new importance as the FAA’s certification procedures have come under fire in the aftermath of the Boeing 737 Max crashes.

What power has been conferred on SOCAC and who are the people anointed to make these major policy recommendations?       

Congress, in its infinite wisdom through its 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act (Pub. L. 115-254)established the “Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee,” (SOCAC) was established by the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 The SOCAC’s duties shall include:

recommending consensus national goals, strategic objectives, and priorities for the most efficient, streamlined, and cost-effective certification and safety oversight processes in order to maintain the safety of the aviation system


at the same time, allow the FAA to meet future needs and ensure that aviation stakeholders remain competitive in the global marketplace.

If divining an answer to such a Rubik’s Cube with so many variables and seemingly contradictory criteria (maximize safety and minimize impact on industry) was not impossible, Congress limited the likelihood of coming to consensus by including every possible perspective on SOCAC in a limited time period[1]. The act specifies that all of these industry sectors must be included:

(1) General aviation;

(2) commercial aviation;

(3) aviation labor;

(4) aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul;

(5) aviation, aerospace, and avionics manufacturing;

(6) unmanned aircraft systems operators and manufacturers;

(7) commercial space transportation industry; and

(8) members of the public;

and other interested parties.

Here is a table collating the composition of SOCAC:

Notes: Dean Stolzer not included in manufacturing or employer; AIA’s Fanning represents all manufacturing segments; there is double counting i.e. one person may be counted more than once e.g. as an engineer, pilot


William S. Ayer

Senior executive, operational experience, heavy Board experiences, esp. FAA



Board Member, Honeywell

A veteran of more than three decades in aviation William Ayer began his career as a salesperson with the Piper Aircraft Company. After starting Air Olympia, a regional airline in Washington state, in 1981, Ayer joined Horizon Air in 1982 where he held a variety of marketing and operations positions. Horizon became a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines in 1986 and he was named chief executive officer of the parent company in 2002. He retired from the company at the end of 2013.

Ayer is a member of the FAA’s Management Advisory Council, and the immediate past chair of the FAA’s NextGen Advisory Committee. In addition to Honeywell, he serves on the boards of the University of Washington, the Museum of Flight and the AOPA Foundation.

Ayer holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and an MBA from the University of Washington. Ayer started flying at the age of 15 and has accumulated more than 4,500 hours of flight time. Ayer owns a Piper Malibu, and holds ATP and flight instructor certificates with over 5000 hours of flight time.

Jason Dickstein

Trade association executive- PMA

Tufts University 1989

American University law School 1992

Senior Associate Attorney

The Law Offices of Obadal & MacLeod, PC

Aug 1992 – Sep 1997

Vice President and General Counsel

Aviation Suppliers Association

Sep 1997 – Dec 1999



Washington Aviation Group, PC

Dec 1999 – Present

Daniel Eigenbrode, Vice President, Pratt and Whitney’s Engine Development Programs

Mid-Level corporate, highly technical powerplant




chair of the G22 Aerospace Engine Supplier Quality (AESQ) Technical Committee. Comprised of major engine manufacturers and suppliers, the committee’s goal is to develop a harmonized set of quality standards for the engine supply chain. Pratt & Whitney is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company.





Eric Fanning is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA)

Senior Trade Association Executive, heavy DOD background—represents #1 stakeholder on Certification

As AIA’s leader, Fanning develops the association’s strategic priorities and works with member CEOs to advocate for policies and responsible budgets that keep our country strong, bolster our capacity to innovate and spur our economic growth.

Fanning joined AIA after serving as the 22nd Secretary of the Army where he provided leadership and oversight of our nation’s largest military service. He previously served as Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense, Acting Secretary of the Air Force and Under Secretary of the Air Force, and Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy/Deputy Chief Management Officer. He is the only person to have held senior appointments in all three military departments and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

During his more than 25 years of distinguished government service, Fanning worked on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee, was Senior Vice President of Strategic Development for Business Executives for National Security, was Deputy Director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, and was associate director of political affairs at the White House.

Fanning holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Dartmouth College.

Chris Jackman, Certification Program Manager, Wing Aviation LLC

Middle management of drone company [no profile available] likely highly technical

Drone delivery development company, subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc.

Paul La Pietra, Senior Engineering Director and ODA Lead Administrator, Honeywell Aerospace

Highly knowledgeable, middle management, technical




John Laughter, S.V.P. ‐ Corporate Safety, Security & Compliance. Delta Airlines, Inc.

Senior Executive, technical background,

responsible for supporting all Delta departments in achieving the highest levels of safety, security, quality, and environmental performance.

John began his career in 1993 at Delta as an aircraft structural engineer and held various leadership positions in the Engineering group, including Interiors Engineering and New Aircraft Acquisition. He also led the TechOps Materials and Planning Organization as well as directed Delta TechOps’ worldwide Maintenance Operations.

Currently, John sits on the Georgia Tech Aerospace Engineering School Advisory Board, Delta Flight Museum Board, Candler Field Advisory Board, and Board of Visitors of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit.

John holds a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

Shelly Lesikar deZevallos, President, West Houston Airport Corporation

Private Entrepreneur, aviation activist, 2nd NBAA Board Member

principal at Independent Mortgage Company and president of West Houston Airport, a privately owned, public use general aviation airport operated by her family for two generations. She also teaches as an adjunct professor with Oklahoma State University

deZevallos has been a member of the NBAA Local and Regional Group Committee, the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board Government Interrelations Committee, and the Transportation Research Board, and is a founding member and president of Texans for General Aviation. She served her native Houston area as a committee member on the Houston-Galveston Area Council and a Board Member of The Woman’s Club of Houston, and has been involved in numerous charitable efforts including the Pink Ribbons Project and World Vision.

She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas, her EMBA from Texas A&M and her Doctorate of Education in Aviation and Space Science from Oklahoma State University. She is an active pilot with her glider, SEL and MEL ratings along with her IFR and commercial certificate, and has over 4,000 hours of flight time.

Sarah MacLeod executive director of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association

Incredibly knowledgeable about regulations, senior executive of relevant trade association, aviation lawyer

Sarah MacLeod is managing member of OFM&K and a founder and executive director of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association. She has advocated for individuals and companies on international aviation safety law, policy and compliance issues for 30 years.

Ms. MacLeod obtained a bachelor’s degree from Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington and a law degree from Catholic University of America.

Colin Miller, Senior Vice President. Innovation, Engineering and Flight, Gulfstream Aerospace


Senior Corporate Executive, test pilot, certification knowledge

He is responsible for innovation strategy, research and development, new program initiation, engineering and product development, flight, lab and structural test, and worldwide Gulfstream flight operations.

Miller joined Gulfstream in 2013 as an experimental test pilot. His many accomplishments include participating in the development, testing and certification program of the Gulfstream G500 and Gulfstream G600, collaborating on the development of advanced technologies to include active touch screens, and overseeing a team developing groundbreaking technology for future Gulfstream aircraft.

Miller served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years as a test pilot, program manager and director of flight test operations, retiring at the rank of colonel. He is a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Test Pilot School and earned an engineering degree from Virginia Tech. He also has a master’s degree in organizational management from The George Washington University, and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee, Air University and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.


Bradley Mottier, GE Vice Chairman
President & CEO, GE Aviation

Very Senior Executive, Powerplant, highly technical

Mr. Joyce also leads GE’s efforts to establish and grow an additive manufacturing equipment, materials and services business, as well as accelerating additive manufacturing applications across GE.

David joined GE in 1980 as a product engineer and spent 15 years advancing his career in design and development of GE’s commercial and military engines. His contributions encompassed nine different engine families powering 15 base aircraft models, including advanced technology applications. In 1995, he transitioned from product development to become a Six Sigma Master Black Belt for the Aviation Engineering Division. In early 1998, he was promoted to general manager of the Customer and Product Support organization, responsible for the global GE/CFM fleet of nearly 20,000 engines in service with more than 500 customers. In this role, David led the formation of the highly successful “At the Customer, For the Customer” program. In mid-2000, he was appointed general manager of the small commercial engine operation, where he led GE’s successful bid to power China’s ARJ21 regional jet. In addition, he oversaw the certification program for the CF34-8 engine for the Bombardier CRJ900 and the Embraer E170/175 aircraft programs. David was promoted to vice president and general manager of the commercial engine operation in 2003. He was named President & CEO in June 2008.

David also exercises his leadership on the boards of the Aerospace Industries Association, the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, and Xavier University. He is an emeritus member of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum board. He was named to the National Academy of Engineering in 2014. David earned both Bachelor of Science and Master’s Degrees in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University and holds a master’s in business finance from Xavier University.


Timothy Obitts, Chief Operating Office and General Counsel, National Air Transportation Association

Trade Association Executive, lawyer

Mr. Obitts oversees the day-to-day operation of NATA and also serves as its general counsel.

Prior to joining NATA in November 2014, Obitts served as the managing partner of Gammon & Grange, P.C., a national practice law firm specializing in nonprofit and communications law, and also co-chaired its litigation practice. During Obitts’ 18 years at Gammon & Grange, he served as corporate counsel and general counsel for many nonprofits and trade associations, handling a wide array of issues that affect their day-to-day activities and also lobbied Capitol Hill and federal agencies.

Obitts earned a Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from California Western School of Law and a Bachelor’s Degree, double major Philosophy and History, from Gordon College, where he also was named All-New England in Tennis, NAIA. Obitts is licensed to practice law in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia and Virginia, as well as numerous federal and appellate courts, and the U.S Supreme Court. Obitts co-founded several nonprofit organizations and serves on several nonprofit boards.

Beth Pasztor, Vice President, Safety, Security and Compliance, Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Executive, involved in regulatory compliance

leads the regulatory administration and product safety teams for commercial airplanes at Boeing. Job spans programs and functions to provide expertise, as well as promote a culture of safety and compliance.



Michael Perrone, National President, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO

Labor Leader, FAA field Radar experience

Mike Perrone was elected to his first term as PASS national president in October 2012 after serving as the union’s national vice president since 2003. Following five years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Perrone joined the FAA in 1981. He began his career in air traffic control before working as a radar technician. Prior to becoming PASS’s national vice president, Perrone worked in a variety of union roles, including PASS national assistant and PASS liaison to several FAA programs and involvement in training, engineering and system design. He was elected to a third three-year term in 2018.

Michael Quiello, Vice President, Corporate Safety, United Airlines

Airline Executive, pilot, operational background

With almost 28 years of safety and flight operations experience, Quiello was most recently vice president of safety for Delta. At United, Quiello will be responsible for managing all aspects of corporate safety, security, environment and regulatory compliance, and will oversee United’s corporate emergency response programs and internal evaluation programs.

Throughout Quiello’s career at Delta, he served in several safety and flight operations roles and currently serves on the Air Transport Association Safety Committee and on the Board of Governors of the Flight Safety Foundation. He has held the role of chief technical pilot, chief pilot at New York’s LaGuardia and Kennedy airports and director of fleets. He was qualified as a captain on various aircraft, including the McDonnell Douglas 88, Boeing 757, Boeing 767 and Boeing 777. Quiello is a former U.S. Marine Corps officer and a graduate of the U.S. Navy Flight School.


Gregory Shoemaker, Policy Counsel, National Air Traffic Controllers Association

 Labor Lawyer, policy



Alan Stolzer, Dean, College of Aviation. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Academic, pilot, operations/SMS

Dr. Stolzer is an experienced pilot and aviation safety expert. He joined the Embry-Riddle faculty in 2008 and most recently served as the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, and Professor and Chair of the Department of Doctoral Studies. His distinguished career as a professor, author, administrator, mentor and aviation authority spans 28 years.

Stolzer has accumulated over 8,000 hours of flight time in more than 40 makes and models of fixed-wing aircraft. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, a Certified Flight Instructor Certificate and an A&P mechanic’s certificate, plus a number of professional certifications from the American Society for Quality, a Project Manager Certificate from the Project Management Institute, and he served on the Board of Trustees of the Aviation Accreditation Board International for 18 years.

His teaching and research interests include Safety Management Systems, and aviation safety programs such as Flight Operations Quality Assurance and project management. He is the author of numerous publications, including two books on Safety Management Systems.

Stolzer’s many awards and recognitions include his election as Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 2014. He has received the Meritorious Award from College of the Ozarks for Distinguished Achievement, the Federal Aviation Administration Air Transportation Centers of Excellence Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award, and the Paul A. Whelan Award and the President’s Award from the Aviation Accreditation Board International.

Stolzer holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Quality Systems from Indiana State University, a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle and a Bachelor’s degree from College of the Ozarks.

Phillip Straub, Executive Vice President, Managing Director, Aviation Division. Garmin International, Inc.

Executive, engineer, pilot


Straub joined Garmin in 1993 after earning a BS degree in electrical engineering (UMKC School of Computing and Engineering  (B.S.E.E. ’92) and was a key contributor and leader in the creation of the GNS 430/530 and G1000 integrated cockpit systems. In addition to his engineering skills, Straub is an accomplished pilot and holds an airline transport pilot certificate for multi-engine, as well as a flight instructor certificate with single-engine, multi-engine and instrument privileges.

As executive vice president, managing director at Garmin International, Straub oversees all aspects of the company’s aviation division including product development, flight operations, sales and marketing. He spoke with us about his career at Garmin and enthusiasm for supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.


Michael Thacker, Executive Vice President, Technology and Innovation. Bell/Textron Aviation

Senior Executive, Helicopter, technical

In his current role, Michael is responsible for leading Bell’s core engineering team and providing strategic direction for designing, developing and integrating technologies for use in Bell’s current and next generation products.

Michael was previously the senior vice president of Engineering at Textron Aviation, where he was responsible for the engineering efforts of Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker product lines. This included new aircraft development, certification, compliance, experimental fabrication, technical publications and product safety, as well as engineering product support for all aircraft in production and legacy models.

Michael joined Cessna in 1993 as an engineer in propulsion integration. Since then, he has held various positions of increasing responsibility in engineering and program management. Prior to being promoted to senior vice president in July 2011, Michael held the position of director of Research and Advanced Technology from 2008. In that role, he managed and directed new product and technology development programs and processes. His responsibilities included product and technology strategy and program initiation and execution. In addition, he led the aerodynamics function for all products and phases of maturity.

Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and a Master of Science from Kansas University. He also holds a MBA degree from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, NC.

Matthew Zuccaro, President and Chief Executive Officer, Helicopter Association International 

Trade Association executive Operational Experience, Helicopter

The president and CEO of HAI directs the organization’s mission and vision, leads the staff, represents and speaks for the organization and its work, and is responsible for implementing the decisions and recommendations of the HAI Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

Zuccaro has led HAI since November 2005 and has more than 50 years of aviation experience. Most notably, Zuccaro served in the U.S. Army with the 7/17 Air Calvary unit in Vietnam. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars and 19 Air Medals for his service. He went on to be an instructor at the Army Flight School at Fort Rucker, AL.

His civilian aviation experience ranges from commercial and business aviation, to public service helicopter operations. He also served at the Port of Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) in operations management at John F. Kennedy International Airport and PANYNJ heliports. He is a past president of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council.

SOCAC has a burdensome charter—analyzing the certification process will be quite challenging. The revision to Part 23 changed the FAA focus from prescription to performance. It is a regulatory regime adopted verbatim by EASA and other CAAs. Congress’ budget has dictated the number of employees devoted to certification; consequentially ODA is the only viable mechanism to process TC applications in a reasonable time. Unions will insist that higher staffing is a prerequisite to safety and that’s unrealistic. To meet the aircraft demand on a purely internal basis will require increases both in numbers and technical expertise. Maybe SOCAC can hire the contemporary version of the biblical Solomon to solve this mystery.

[1] As directed in Public Law 115-254, the SOCAC will terminate on the last day of the 6-year period beginning on the date of the initial appointment of members of the advisory committee.


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1 Comment on "SOCAC from A to Z"

  1. Once again, as in most other DOT/FAA advisory councils, there are no economists or financial types on the committee. So, they’ll spend 6 years coming up with recommendations that look great on paper, but will never “fly” — that is, they won’t pass the economic requirements to enact them into law/regulations.

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