Aviation Safety Leaders Changing jobs– + or – ?

FAA and NBAA changes
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Movement within FAA- Acting AOA-1and AVS-1, new AIR-1, former AIR-1?

Acting AVS-1 moves to NBAA

NBAA COO retiring after 18 years there

Aviation is a bit of an organizational antonym—its worldwide employment is big 1.5 million people; yet, in some ways, all of the safety professionals seems to know each other. Recently, several executive announcements made the point of our business’ tight cadre


  • · In his absence, Christopher J. Rocheleau, who had been AVS-2, was moved up to the number 1 position in Aviation Safety.
  • In the same apparent rotation, Earl Lawrence, Executive Director of the Aircraft Certification Service, was announced as moving to an as-of-yet unnamed office.
  • The AIR-1 office will now be headed by Lirio Liu
  • The last movement in this unsyncopated personnel dance was for Rocheleau to move to NBAA to be the successor for Steve Brown.
  • The final stanza of this piece is that Mr. Brown after 18 years with NBAA and decades of impressive positions with NAA, AOPA and Texas A&M.

FAA organization chart

½ of the ORG chart to show the spaghetti lines

Pluses and minuses for this transition:

  • Losing Rocheleau will further impede the several initiatives (SMS, reorganization of Flight Standards field office, performance v. prescription ) plus reestablishing the FAA as the Gold Standard post Max 8
  • + all of Rocheleau’ s skills/values (network created 20 years with the FAA, international experience, expertise in the policies and the internal process of developing them..) will add to NBAA’s inventory of talent.
  • Steve Brown is irreplaceable based on his experience and breath of expertise—most notably Air Traffic, but the good news is that the NBAA internal air traffic staff ( has grown during Steve’s tenure to be second to none among the aviation associations—his institution of the NBAA Air Traffic Services (ATS) is one of the most valuable member services)
  • +++ Lirio Liu will bring her technical engineering experience/education PLUS international skills to an office that must take the lead in restoring confidence in and comity with peer certification organizations.


global CAA chessboard



Lirio Liu Replaces Earl Lawrence At FAA Certification

Russ Niles

April 10, 2022

Lirio LiuThe FAA has replaced Earl Lawrence as the head of aircraft certification with Lirio Liu, who now runs the agency’s international affairs office. Lawrence has run aircraft certification for three years. Liu is an aerospace engineer and has been with the FAA since 1991. Much of that experience has been in aircraft certification and safety roles. She also headed up the Office of Rulemaking for aviation safety for seven years. She assumed her present duties in October of 2020 and will take over from Lawrence on May 8. He’s being given another role at the FAA but it has not been disclosed.

Lawrence went to the FAA in 2010 as manager of the Small Airplane Directorate. Prior to that he had been EAA’s VP of Industry andEarl Lawrence Regulatory Affairs. He worked his way up through the FAA executive branch, taking over as Director UAS Integration Branch from 2015 until 2018 when he took over aircraft certification.








NBAA Announces Chris Rocheleau as Incoming COO, With Steve Brown Retirement Approaching



NBAA logo








Rocheleau in international FAA duties

Washington, DC, April 6, 2022 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) announced today that senior Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) executive Christopher J. Rocheleau has been named the association’s new chief operating officer, overseeing NBAA’s activities relating to aircraft and flight department operations, as well as the administrative, financial and human resources functions.

Rocheleau will join NBAA in June, succeeding Steve Brown, who is retiring later this year after 18 years of distinguished service to NBAA, and an exemplary aviationSteve Brown career spanning several decades.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Chris to NBAA,” said association President and CEO Ed Bolen. “He is enormously well-respected on Capitol Hill, within the FAA and all across the aviation industry. He is a proven leader and a true professional.

“It would be impossible to overstate Steve’s contributions to NBAA and aviation,” Bolen continued. “He represents all the very best our industry and country has to offer. He has had a profound impact on aviation in the United States and around the world, and we wish him well as he begins this new chapter.”

Rocheleau has served the FAA with distinction for over 20 years in multiple roles including acting associate administrator for aviation safety, chief of staff, assistant administrator for policy, international affairs and environment, executive director for international affairs and director of the office of emergency operations and investigations.

Before joining the agency, he served as an officer and special agent with the United States Air Force, retiring from the USAF Reserve in 2010 as a lieutenant colonel. He was also among the first leaders of the Transportation Security Administration.

Rocheleau holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and a master’s of public administration from City University of Seattle. He also completed the Executive National Security Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and USAF Air Command and Staff College.

Brown joined NBAA in October 2004 as senior vice president of operations before being named COO in 2010.

Prior to joining NBAA, he served for six years as the FAA’s associate administrator for air traffic services. Before that, he served as president of the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) and senior vice president, government affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). He was a member of the faculty at Texas A&M University, where he taught several aviation-related courses.

Brown serves as chairman of the board of directors of RTCA, a not-for-profit aviation standards organization. Additionally, he serves on the Aviation Accreditation Board International, where he previously was chairperson and treasurer. In 2021, he was named to the TSA Aviation Security Advisory Committee, which is tasked with providing recommendations for improving aviation security.

Steve Brown 3 awards

Over the past year, Brown has been honored by the NAA as a Distinguished Statesman of Aviation. In 2002, he received the Department of Transportation’s 9/11 Medal, in recognition of his leadership in restoring the safety and security of aviation operations following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. That same year, he was similarly recognized for his exemplary work after 9/11 with the Experimental Aviation Association’s (EAA’s) Freedom of Flight Award, the organization’s highest.

nbaa horizons


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