#46 Dan Elwell: FAA Reauthorization; "1,500 Hour Rule"; the balance between safety and innovation

#46 Dan Elwell: FAA Reauthorization; "1,500 Hour Rule"; the balance between safety and innovation

This episode marks a first for our podcast – it’s the first time that we recorded an episode in person, and we did it during the Honeywell Aerospace Second Annual Advanced Air Mobility Summit in Washington DC, where the three of us also shared insights on the industry in front of an impressive audience of government and industry leaders. 

One of the major themes of the Summit was the upcoming FAA Reauthorization, and so in light of that, we sat down with Dan Elwell – who previously served as the Acting FAA Administrator and also its Deputy Administrator – to do a deep dive into the FAA Reauthorization and other important industry topics. 

We start the conversation with the pilot shortage problem, the structural and cultural forces at play, and how technology can help solve it. The discussion surfaces the currently somewhat controversial topic of the role that simulators play in the “1,500 hour” rule. Listen to why Dan believes pilots should be allowed to accumulate even the entirety of the 1500hrs requirement in modern high tech simulators.

Most of our conversation, however, takes us back to the roots and foundational principles of regulating aviation, including an overview of the evolution of the FAA mandate since its founding in 1958. Although not novel, the balance between ensuring safety and promoting the growth of the industry is more important today than it ever was before. We hover on this topic quite a bit and, among other things, draw analogies to how commercial space flights are regulated. 

Listen to what Dan thinks is one of the most important issues that the FAA needs to figure out, and how what he calls the 737 Max PTSD phenomenon and other factors create a chilling effect on the FAA workforce and their ability to be an effective regulator.


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