AOPA says FAA choice to head ATC understands GA

November 6, 2003

Finally. After three years, the FAA has found someone qualified and willing to be the chief operating officer (COO) of the Air Traffic Organization within the FAA. And it's someone who understands general aviation, according to AOPA. Russell G. Chew, currently American Airlines' managing director of system operations control, has been named to be overall boss of all air traffic control functions. The position has been vacant since it was created in 2000 by the landmark AIR-21 legislation.

"Finally, the FAA has placed someone in an important air traffic position, after years of trying to find the right person," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Russ Chew faces an enormous task, but knowing his analytical capability, his pilot orientation, and all of his work with the entire aviation industry, I'm sure he is certainly a capable man for the job. AOPA looks forward to working with Russ in this new position as we continue our advocacy for the needs of all general aviation operators."

As COO of the Air Traffic Organization (ATO), Chew will be charged with overseeing the operational and financial operations of both the air traffic control system and research and development programs. And he'll have to make it into a "performance-based organization," which is supposed to make government organizations operate more like a business.

"Russ and I have sat side by side for the better part of a decade as part of Mitre's Aviation Advisory Committee, the Operational Evolution Plan (OEP), the RTCA Policy Board and Steering committees, and a host of other industry endeavors," said Boyer. "He understands the totality of this nation's airspace and its users. He has always been quick to understand the importance of not only more runway capacity at this country's hub airports, but also the high value of our general aviation reliever airports.

"And working for a cost-constrained air carrier, Russ is sensitive to mandatory equipage for both the air transport category aircraft and the very cost-sensitive general aviation fleet."

Chew was a general aviation pilot and AOPA member for almost a decade before he was hired as an American Airlines pilot in 1984. He's type rated in a variety of Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas aircraft and still flies occasionally as an airline captain. His current job puts him in charge of all of American's flight operations.

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