As the Executive Director of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office (or AUS), Earl Lawrence is responsible for facilitating all regulations, policies, and procedures required to support the FAA’s safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (also known as UAS, or drones) into the National Airspace System (NAS). He played a fundamental role in the establishment of his organization – an organization that did not exist in FAA until a few years ago. When the need to facilitate UAS research, policy development, and technical coordination became evident, Mr. Lawrence helped marshal the Congressional approval that led to the creation of AUS in 2016. His office is working to bridge diverse, and often competing, stakeholder interests in order to assimilate UAS into the existing NAS framework. At the same time, he is facilitating safety and security solutions to set the stage for expanded drone operations, including package delivery and urban air mobility.
Mr. Lawrence maintains broad contacts with the U.S. aviation industry as well as federal, state, and local government organizations, including Congress and the National Transportation Safety Board. He represents the FAA on the Senior Steering Group of the UAS Executive Committee (ExCom) focused on coordinating and aligning efforts among key federal government agencies. He also serves as a central point of contact for the international aviation community on UAS issues.
Mr. Lawrence previously served as the Manager of the FAA’s Small Airplane Directorate in Kansas City, Missouri, where he managed airworthiness standards, continued operational safety, policy, and guidance for small aircraft, gliders, light sport aircraft, airships, and balloons. In addition to leading the rewrite of the airworthiness standards for small aircraft (CFR Title 14, part 23), Lawrence was responsible for drones within the Aircraft Certification Service.
Prior to joining the FAA in 2010, Lawrence was the vice president of industry and regulatory affairs for the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He managed EAA’s government affairs offices in Oshkosh and Washington, DC, along with EAA’s aircraft maintenance and flight operations. Before that, Lawrence worked for Rockwell Rocketdyne, first as a rocket engine mechanic and then as a manufacturing engineer on the International Space Station.
Mr. Lawrence has served as a board member of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association and on the ASTM International Board of Directors, and was the founding chairman of the ASTM International Committee F37 on Light Sport Aircraft. In recognition of his standards work for Light Sport Aircraft, Lawrence received the 2003 Robert J. Painter Memorial Award from the Standards Engineering Society.
Mr. Lawrence is a graduate of Northrop University, with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering Technology. He has been a pilot since 1987 and holds a commercial multi-engine pilot certificate as well as an airframe and power-plant mechanic certificate with an Inspection Authorization. He currently owns, maintains, and flies a Piper Twin Comanche.