AIA names its 3rd President in less than 3 years; will the revision of Part 21 be advanced?

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AIA Chairman Dennis A. Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and CEO. has named Eric Fanning as the association’s next president and CEO.  He will be the 3rd AIA leader named in 31 months following Dave Melcher and Marion Blakey.

Fanning holds the distinction of being the only person to have held senior appointments in all three military departments and the Office of the Secretary of Defense–22nd secretary of the Army. He previously served as chief of staff for the secretary of the Defense Department, was acting secretary and undersecretary of the Air Force, and deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer of the Navy.

“The Aerospace Industries Association is the voice of American aerospace and defense. We advocate for policies and responsible budgets that keep our country strong, bolster our capacity to innovate, and spur our economic growth.” Fanning will be responsible for leading a trade group for an industry that generated $872 billion in sales in 2016 and employs more than 2.4 million people — and faces significant foreign policy and national security challenges.

An impressive addition to an important aviation organization.

But, from a civil aviation perspective (solely), his lack of experience seems to indicate that the leading organization representing American aeronautics is the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. A simple review of the staff devoted to dealing with the FAA regulatory problems gives greater credence to this supposition


  1. Vice Presidents

    Walter L. Desrosier/ Jens C. Hennig/Paul H. Feldman

    2. Directors

Jonathan Archer /Lauren L. Haertlein /Joe Sambiase

The GAMA team also has resumes replete with excellent regulatory/airworthiness experience. More directly relevant to their mission, GAMA has been a leader in aviation matters like:

  • The dramatic revision/revitalization of Part 23—they led the drafting of the “performance based” certification criteria and devoted the most hours to walking the idea through the ARAC and then NPRM processes
  • The equipage of GA aircraft with ADS-B, especially urging the manufacturers to develop lower costs for the units
  • Advocating STEM, which AIA has also done
  • Participating in/leading FAA/EASA/ICAO ARACs/committees
    • ADS-B,
    • air traffic management,
    • landing and takeoff performance, and rulemaking cost analysis,
    • airman training and testing standards rulemaking committee
    • General Aviation Joint Steering Committee
    • Aviation Certification Service pilot study implementing a voluntary Safety Management System (SMS) for select Part 21-approved design and manufacturing organizations.
    • FAA NextGen Air Traffic Management (ATM) initiative
    • FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC),
    • EASA Safety Standards Consultative Committee (SSCC) and Stakeholder Advisory Body (SAB)
    • FAA Part 21/Safety Management Systems Aviation Rulemaking Committee,
    • Aircraft Certification Process Review & Reform
    • Consistency of Regulatory Interpretation committee
  • Devoting time and effort towards GA safety – design and operations


AIA and its staff have worked hard to represent their members. They, too, contribute time and effort in similar activities. However, the singular aviation regulatory accomplishment, which traces its origins to industry, was the implementation of Part 23. No one would argue that GAMA was the originator and constant catalyst for that innovation.

Part 25 is the obvious next target for this enlightened approach to certification. To see that revision, much to the benefit of its members, it would be expected that strong leadership will be neededLeading the charge to allow commercial airline certification to utilize the same improved standards as GA is the challenge facing President Fanning, David Silver and the AIA staff.

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