FAA’s Management Advisory Council should be Maximized

breadth of FAA mission
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FAA Management Advisory Council outcome of the Gore Commission

Congress gave the MAC substantial options

 Secretary Buttigieg added 3 excellent new Members

Administrator Dickson should increase his use of this Team

The Federal Aviation Administration is unusual, if not unique, within the US government in that its mission requires constant operation, especially in its air traffic function, and almost universal presence in its safety surveillance charge. Because of these constant tasks, many experts on governmental organizations have noted this strong resemblance to business and have recommended –privatization, federal corporation with a board, outsourcing of its essential services, etc. Though millions in lobbying expenses have been devoted to these goals, none were enacted.

President Clinton statement



President Clinton and Vice President Gore examined these options. In furtherance of this deep analysis, the Vice President chaired the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security  and most of its recommendations did not move forward EXCEPT its identification of the value of external advice from a Management Council. Section 320 of the 1996 FAA Reauthorization Act mandated the creation of such counsel.section 230



The language of the statute is encouraging:

  • submit comments, recommended modifications, and dissenting views to the Administrator
  • a description of the comments, recommended modifications, and dissenting views received from the Council, together with the reasons for any differences between the views of the Council and the views or actions of the Administrator.
  • provide advice and counsel to the Administrator on issues which affect or are affected by the operations of the Administrator
  • oversight resource for management, policy, spending, and regulatory matters under the jurisdiction of the Administration
  • shall review the rulemaking cost- benefit analysis process and develop recommendations to improve the analysis and ensure that the public interest is fully protected.
  • The Council shall review the process through which the Administration determines to use advisory circulars and service bulletins.
  • Access to documents and staff.–


To assure that the discussions between the MAC and the Administrator/Deputy Administrator are candid, the contents and action of this group are not published. Consequently, there is no record of these meetings’ contributions.

Though the 1996 Act uses active verbs for the MAC’s job description, former members have admitted that their role is primarily passive. As one explained, the output of this group largely depends on the agenda delivered to them. Good probing questions lead to the sort of insights the Gore Commission predicted.

The current Council[1] has the level of knowledge, experience, judgment. Insights, ability to speak and integrity that could be a large, global, complex  aviation enterprise’s Board of Directors. The breadth and depth of their talents provide the input which any Administrator should want:

  • Airlines
  • Airports
  • Air Traffic Control and airspace
  • Budget and Financial
  • Computers
  • Congress
  • Employees/Unions
  • Engineering
  • Environment
  • International
  • Operations
  • Safety, particularly SMS
  • Technology
  • UAVs

Hopefully, the Administrator and the Deputy will fully utilize this free. Incredibly valuable resource.

FAA Mission image




DOT Appoints New Members to FAA’s Management Advisory Council, Increasing Diversity, Perspectives

Jun 29th, 2021

Buttigeig and Dickson


U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has appointed three new members to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Management Advisory Council (MAC), bringing a diversity of experience and perspectives to the FAA’s leadership team. The group provides advice to the FAA on management, policy, spending, and regulatory matters.

3 new MAC members

The three new members are:

These aviation experts will help guide the FAA as we work to ensure that America’s aviation sector continues to lead the world, said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Their diverse experiences and backgrounds are critical as the aviation industry meets this consequential moment and prepares for a future of change and opportunity.”

Created by the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996, the MAC meets quarterly to assess and advise the FAA on carrying out its mission of aviation safety. Members serve three-year terms and retain their private sector positions. “This era of aviation will likely be the most transformative in a century,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “The Management Advisory Council and its members’ diverse backgrounds will provide key insights that will inform FAA decision-making as we look to build a safer, more sustainable and equitable aviation future.”

MAC incumbents









By law, the MAC has 13 members. Current members include:

“This is a great group of individuals with valuable and diverse perspectives that the FAA needs as we move forward on great opportunities,” said FAA Deputy Administrator A. Bradley Mims. “Our world is changing quickly, and we must have people with all types of backgrounds to support us.” Statutorily mandated council members include:

  • Polly Trottenberg, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation, as designee of the Secretary of Transportation;
  • Paul Rinaldi, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association; and
  • A representative from the Department of Defense.


[1] So, too, past MACs—e.g. The MAC Is Filled With Aviation Stars; FAA Administrator Would Be Well Advised To Rely On This Expert Resource (2014); New MAC “Board” Is Talented, But FAA Past Does Not Show Much Reliance On This Privatization Plus (2017)

Aerial view of FAA



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