New MAC “Board” is talented, but FAA past does not show much reliance on this Privatization Plus

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Secretary Elaine L. Chao Names Newest FAA Management Advisory Council Members

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today announced the appointment of seven new members to the Federal Aviation Administration’s 13-member Management Advisory Council (MAC).  The MAC advises the FAA’s senior management on policy, spending, long-range planning, and regulatory matters.

The MAC’s newest members continue to represent a cross section of public and private sector transportation and business leaders.  They include:


Phillip Trenary, former CEO, Pinnacle Airlines
Brian Wynne, CEO, Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
William Ris, former Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, American Airlines
Donna McLean, former U.S. Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs and Chief Financial Officer
Jeffrey Shane, former U.S. Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Policy—currently General Counsel of IATA
Huntley Lawrence, Director, Aviation Department, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Richard DeVos, President, Windquest Group and former CEO, Amway [spouse of the current Secretary of Education; founder of the West Michigan Flight Academy and CEO of a company with a 63 person flight department][1]

“These new members bring extensive experience and over a century of combined expertise in the operation, business, and policy of aviation that will be invaluable to improving the FAA,” said Secretary Chao.  “Each individual is a widely respected leader in their field and brings an established record of achievement that will help ensure our airspace remains one of the safest and most efficient in the world.”









[1] As the only nominee without obvious aviation background, these details were added.]

The six incumbent members include:

·        Jeffrey A. Rosen, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation;

·        Maj. Gen. (ret.) Rowayne Schatz, Associate Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, U.S. Air Force;

·        Paul Rinaldi, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association;

·        Steve Alterman, President, Cargo Airline Association;

·        John E. “Jack” Potter, President, CEO, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; and,

·        Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX.


The nominees, subject to Senate confirmation, plus the incumbents, would constitute a 1st rate Board for any aviation organization. Any CEO and the FAA Administrator should lean on their combined experience (airline operations and finance, UASs, the Hill, budget, law (especially international treaties), airports and GA/BA.) for strategic advice, management decisions, policy directions, etc.).

The FAA has a number of Advisory Committees, providing counsel on Air Traffic Control Procedures , NextGen,  Research and Development , RTCA and under the guise of the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee a whole host of technical regulatory issues. They constitute an important resource for the executives and staff by sharing ideas, suggesting solutions, providing practical solutions for regulatory issues, etc. The papers and reports of these volunteer, independent, industry and general public experts contribute to aviation safety.

Congress in 1996 established a Management Advisory Committee in Section 230 of that Reauthorization Act. That bill empowered the MAC to provide the following:

…With respect to Administration management, policy, spending, funding, and regulatory matters affecting the aviation industry, the Council may submit comments, recommended modifications, and dissenting views to the Administrator. The Administrator shall include in any submission to Congress, the Secretary, or the general public, and in any submission for publication in the  Federal Register, 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.


In 2000, Senator McCain (R. AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation  emphasized the importance of the advice from the MAC by reiterating the statutory charge with  these words:


Like a corporate board of directors, the Council is
expected to hold the FAA Administrator accountable for meeting
goals on time and living within budgetary guidelines. Using
their collective management expertise the members of the
Management Advisory Council can and should help the
Administrator respond to repeated calls to operate the FAA more
like a service business.

That’s a mission statement of real substance!

However, a search of the FAA website and of GOOGLE neither even mentioned the MAC nor any visible work product of this august body. One FAA liaison, after leaving the FAA, admitted that his MAC strategy followed the technique for growing mushrooms (not turning on the lights and covering the committee with bull’s alimentary canal product).








The MAC, for 20 years, has been available to the FAA and appears not to have been well utilized. The history of appointees (2000 and 2014 are good examples) is a series of talented rosters. It is not clear why this superb resource has neither been consulted nor produced substantive, publicly available counsel.

One of the primary premises of the various privatization proposals has been the benefits of having a Board of Directors helping to set the FAA’s strategic direction. This history of the MAC does not provide much comfort to the idea that this organization works well with such external guidance. Secretary Chao would be well advised to encourage the FAA Administrator of 2018 to increase the participation of the MAC.  

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