David assumed the job of managing the ATO after a short stint as the FAA Chief Counsel. To prepare for those jobs, he worked for Continental Airlines for 22 years as its General Counsel, SVP of Corporate Development and Strategic Planning and as SVP of Customer Experience. He has announced plans to retire at the end of this calendar year.
Q: Are you a pilot?
Q: What is the coolest airplane you have ever flown in?
A: I think every airplane that can be profitably manufactured is extremely cool.
Q: Over the course of your career you have participated in a number of aviation safety projects. What do you consider to be the one project with the greatest safety impact?
A: The expansion of the Air Traffic Safety Action Program, or “ATSAP” program — the voluntary safety disclosure program we have at the FAA for controllers to self-disclose personal and systemic safety issues, without fear of reprisal – has produced the most dramatic increase in safety information upon which practical, meaningful corrective actions can be based of any project I have otherwise observed. At the FAA, we have recently launched a similar program for our technicians, and I believe it will generate similar insights for corrective actions.
Q: What aviation websites (other than JDA Journal) do you most frequently visit?
A: Yahoo Finance: Major Airline Industry News.
Q: What phrase or words of wisdom and the author do you cite most frequently in your aviation work?
A: “The worst plan that you can execute is better than the best plan that you can’t.” David Grizzle
Q: Who is your favorite person in aviation history?
A: Gordon Bethune, the former Chairman of Continental. He took the helm when Continental was about to go into bankruptcy for the third time. He fired all the consultants and most of the management team, and ended up transforming the culture and creating one of the world’s best airlines. Many of his management practices (e.g., on-time bonuses) were modeled by many other airlines.
Q: Which do you prefer the Paris Air Show or Oshkosh?
A: Oshkosh. It is the true lifeblood of American aviation.
Q: What are you reading these days for fun?
A: The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver
Q: What tunes are on your iPod playlist?
A: Mostly C&W (Lady Antebellum) or Seventies Rock (Chicago) and sermon podcasts.
Q: How do you spend your leisure moments?
A: Hunting, fishing, hiking and working on our farm in Southwest Virginia.