The Federal Aviation Administration has named the members of its newly formed FAA Women in Aviation Advisory Board. And though none of its members represent a drone company or organization specifically, the new group is made up of multiple women who’ve had their hands in the drone industry.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao on Friday announced the names of the 30 women who were appointment to the board, which will be chaired by former U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. Dr. Wilson currently serves as President of The University of Texas at El Paso.
The 30 women were selected through nominations solicited via a Federal Register Notice last October. Nearly 200 applications were submitted, according to the FAA.
And among the women with ties to the drone industry: Patricia Gilbert and Lindsey Dreiling.
Patricia Gilbert is perhaps best known for having served over the past 10 years as Executive Vice President for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (she worked for 21 years as an air traffic controller at the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center).
And Gilbert knows a thing or two about drones. She currently sits on the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee, which was designed as a “broad-based, long-term federal advisory committee that provides the FAA advice” on drone-related integration issues. Her air-traffic-control expertise is vital to the committee, as the drone industry currently grapples with establishing UTM systems (essentially air traffic control for drones).
Lindsey Dreiling serves as Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus’s first-ever executive director of aviation strategy, as the school has been on a tear trying to better position itself as a global leader not just in drones but all aspects of the aviation industry. Specific to drones, Kansas State Polytechnic was the first university approved for commercial drone flight training, and they’re the first university to offer beyond visual line of sight training to students. They also hosts drone summer camps for younger students.
Previously Dreiling served as deputy director of aviation and unmanned aircraft systems for the Kansas Department of Transportation. At KDOT, she served as chief of unmanned aircraft systems, helping lead the first statewide unmanned air traffic safety program and taking part in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s UAS Integration Pilot Program.
And yes, Dreiling has a Remote Pilot Certificate.
The Women in Aviation Advisory Board was established last October as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 in an effort to develop strategies and recommendations that would encourage women and girls to enter aviation. Women are underrepresented not just drones, but nearly all arms of aviation, and the group is intended to develop solutions like improved education, training, mentorship, outreach, and recruitment of women in the aviation industry that might bridge that gap.
As of Sept. 1, 2018, just 5,946 Remote Pilot Certificates (that’s 5.8% of all Remote Pilot Certificates) were issued to women, according to a study done by Women and Drones based on FAA registration data.
That’s roughly in line with the same percent of female pilots of manned aircraft. About 5% of manned aircraft pilots are women (but hey, that’ up from 3.5% in the 1960s). Across the entire aviation industry, women make up a much stronger (but still minority of) nearly 30% of non-pilot jobs, which includes roles like aerospace engineer or air traffic controller.
Members will be appointed to the women’s advisory board for the duration of its existence, which the FAA said they expect will be at least two years. The board will meet up to two times per year.