NASAO’s Washington Conference “FAA Policy Update”

Assistant Administrator for Policy, International Affairs and Environment Laurence S. Wildgoose (January 1, 2021 - present)


Good afternoon, everyone. It is great to be back at NASAO’s Washington Conference again and to see so many of you in person this year. 

I want to start by thanking NASAO president and CEO, Greg Pecoraro , for his leadership, support, and continued relationship with the FAA and our staff.  

The state of our union with NASAO is strong. 

In case you didn’t know, the FAA and NASAO’s partnership formed 27 years ago. And, of all the partnerships that we have, NASAO is unique in that we have the same mission: to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. 

As a testament to our relationship, in August of last year, the FAA renewed our longstanding memorandum of understanding with NASAO, so you all could continue your long-term partnership in support of the FAA’s mission to provide government products and services to the aviation industry.

This is such an exciting time for aviation. When it comes to new technologies like drones and commercial space operations, aerospace continues to move at a rapid pace.

And as we’re seeing more advanced air mobility and electric aircraft on the horizon, our mission is to constantly advance our outstanding level of safety, without stifling the innovators. 

That last point is important – we aim to be a gateway and not a hurdle. 

That is why the FAA is committed to fostering positive working relationships across the aviation industry – especially with aviation officials at the regional, state, and local levels. 

In fact, the FAA’s Office of National Engagement and Regional Administration, which is under my purview, serves as a leading partner in this effort.

I know many of you have worked closely with our regional administrators like our distinguished Joe Miniace in the FAA’s central region, and the numerous talented staff members we have out in the field. 

I’ll focus my remarks on a few important areas during our flight: 

  • During takeoff, I’d like to provide a brief overview on what the FAA has been doing to meet our sustainability goals; how we are tackling climate change; and where we are with helping the U.S. to reach its target of net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050; 
  • As we climb, I will talk about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a once-in-a-generation investment in America’s transportation network; 
  • At the appropriate cruising altitude, I will provide a brief update on FAA reauthorization, as I know this is a hot topic and at the top of everyone’s list; and
  • Lastly, as we prepare for landing, please put your tray tables up because I want to talk about our involvement at the state level, and the partnership opportunities that are available through the FAA's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Aviation and Space Education (AVSED) Program, which has been an integral part of FAA outreach and the national education system in the states for decades.   


Starting with sustainability, please buckle your seat belts and prepare for takeoff…

Under President Biden’s leadership, the Department of Transportation, and the FAA are putting the U.S. on a pathway to net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. 

A little more than a year ago and for the first time ever, the U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan established a national strategy of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. aviation sector by 2050.  

The FAA got to work, and we conducted detailed analyses to understand what it would take for aviation to reach net-zero emissions.  

We also spent a lot of time working with our partners across the federal government to understand how we could quickly and effectively meet net-zero emissions goals.  

So, we looked carefully at what opportunities there are to reduce emissions. 

These include: 

  • Regular aircraft replacement and fleet renewal; 
  • New, more efficient aircraft and airport technologies; 
  • More efficient operations; and 
  • The use of sustainable aviation fuels, or SAF. 

Our analysis revealed that a full set of measures are needed to achieve the net-zero goal, but it also underscores the important role of SAF. 

And, for the first time ever, the U.S. finally has all the pieces it needs to transition to sustainable aviation fuel, which, as I mentioned earlier, represents the biggest element to get the country to net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Currently, we’re producing around 12 million gallons of SAF in the U.S. each year.

Our goal is to bring SAF production up to three billion gallons by 2030 and 35 billion gallons by 2050.

Last September, the SAF Grand Challenge roadmap was released in partnership with the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, and of course, the Department of Transportation and the FAA in the left seat. 

The SAF Grand Challenge roadmap will serve as the instruction manual on how federal agencies are going to put the pieces together.

The roadmap outlines a whole-of-government approach with coordinated federal policies and activities to support industry in achieving both the 2030 and 2050 goals of the SAF Grand Challenge. 

It also aligns government and industry actions and coordinates government policies to achieve the goals of the SAF Grand Challenge. 

Lastly, the SAF Grand Challenge roadmap lays out six action areas spanning all activities with the potential to impact the SAF Grand Challenge objectives of (1) expanding SAF supply and end use, (2) reducing the cost of SAF, and (3) enhancing the sustainability of SAF. 

These action areas are:

  • Feedstock [and] conversion technology innovation;
  • Building supply chains; 
  • Policy and valuation analysis;
  • Enabling end use; and 
  • Communicating progress and building support.

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, last fall provided new incentive programs to encourage development and deployment of SAF.

The IRA provides tax credits for SAF production, up to $1 dollar and 75 cents per gallon for fuels that demonstrate the greatest reductions of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. The tax credits will incentivize companies to make necessary investments to ramp up domestic SAF production. 

The IRA also has over $244 million dollars in funding for new FAA grants for projects that increase production, transportation, and storage of SAF.

The FAA is well underway in developing a new grant program – Fueling Aviation’s Sustainable Transition, or FAST, with elements focused on SAF, to be termed FAST-SAF, and elements focused on low-emission aviation technologies, to be termed FAST-Tech. 

The grant program will incentivize SAF production and use, while creating good-paying domestic jobs and economic opportunities for farmers, manufacturers, start-ups, and others in the sustainable aviation fuel supply chain. 

To get SAF to market, the FAA has been working for several years with universities and industry to build supply chains.

In October 2022, the FAA issued more than $16 million in grants to 14 universities across the country for research to reduce aviation emissions and noise, as part of the Aviation Sustainability Center (ASCENT) research effort.

ASCENT universities are located across the country in states like Massachusetts, Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Indiana, California, Ohio, Hawaii, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington, so we are putting our money where our mouths are and spreading the love around.

International Climate Efforts

As much as we are doing domestically, we are also committed to working with our international stakeholders.

During last year’s ICAO General Assembly, the United States was re-elected to Part 1 of the ICAO Council as a “state of chief importance in air transport,” and we secured almost 80% of member state votes. This is indicative to the value of consistent FAA global leadership and engagement.

On climate change, the assembly agreed to establish a long-term climate goal of reaching net zero emissions from aviation by 2050. This outcome is a big success and a credit to both the member states who adopted the goal, and industry who supported it.

The assembly also worked to strengthen the carbon offsetting program known as CORSIA, which requires airlines to mitigate their CO2 emissions growth. 

Together, these accomplishments reaffirm ICAO’s commitment and leadership to tackle aviation’s impact on climate change.

Aviation is an industry that crosses borders. What we do here at home is critical, as well as coming together with other countries to collaborate, share best practices, and lessons learned to further advance the aerospace industry.

BIL and an Overview of Grant Programs

As we ascend to new heights… on our flight path that is, I want to briefly update you on the president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, or BIL, as we call it.  

BIL includes approximately $25 billion dollars in investments for the National Airspace System and are divided into three buckets: 

  • $5 billion for air traffic control facilities; 
  • $15 billion for airport infrastructure grants; and 
  • $5 billion for investments in airport terminals and airport owned (FAA operated) towers. 

Over the next five years, the Airport Terminal Program will receive $5 billion to replace aging terminals, increase terminal efficiency and sustainability, increase capacity, and improve access for passengers with disabilities.

The Airport Infrastructure Grant Program provides $15 billion over the next five years for airport-related projects using the Airport Improvement Grant and Passenger Facility Charge criteria.

The money can be invested in runways, taxiways, safety and sustainability projects, as well as terminal, airport-transit connections and roadway projects.

For fiscal years 2022 and 2023, we have already granted nearly $2 billion through the Airport Terminal Program. 

In fact, just three days ago on Monday, February 27th, Secretary Buttigieg announced almost a billion dollars to fund projects at 99 airports across the country. 

These projects will improve the passenger experience at airports in communities of all sizes and aim to make it faster and easier to check bags, get through security, and find your gate, all while creating jobs and supporting local economies. 

Regarding Airport Infrastructure Grants, the FAA has granted almost $6 billion dollars since last year alone. 

It is important to note that these federal funds are helping to improve both the safety and efficiency of airports, but they are also supporting economic development and helping cities and states expand job opportunities for its residents and enable wealth creation for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

2023 Reauthorization

At 38,000 feet in the sky, let’s talk about the FAA’s reauthorization efforts. 

The FAA is expecting a new reauthorization bill in 2023 that will provide the agency with a strategic focus for the next several years.

Ultimately, it will be up to Congress and the president to decide what goes in the next bill.

As such, we in the FAA look forward to working with our executive branch partners and Congress, so that the next bill reflects our mission and goals, while addressing future challenges. 

Within the FAA, we have taken input from many stakeholders, including NASAO, and we have identified current and future priorities across the aviation sector.

While safety is always paramount for us, our priorities will maximize air traffic efficiency, while evolving the national airspace system, flight climate change and promote sustainability, equitably build infrastructure, and recruit a highly skilled diverse workforce for the future.

We hope to have our preliminary list of priorities ready to share with Congress in the coming months.

STEM AVSED | Strengthening the Relationship with the States

As we make our final descent, I want to address how we can further strengthen our relationship with you. 

Throughout the U.S., the FAA is connected to a complex network of elected officials, industry leaders, state aviation officials, and community groups, who are all equally dedicated and passionate about moving aviation into a promising future.  

We conduct outreach in the state offices of our elected offices, attend conferences, such as this to be present and engage and we visit industry sites and facilities. 

As someone who spends a lot of time on the road – both domestically and internationally – I truly enjoy meeting the great innovators of today and hearing from you firsthand. 

That’s why the outreach component of our organization is so important to the FAA equally as investing in the next generation of the aerospace workforce is critical for the future of the national airspace and our industry. 

We recognize that solutions to building the future of the aerospace workforce must be a result of collaboration among government, industry and academia, and the FAA is corporately committed to investing in this need across the industry through outreach. 

As a wonderful example, NASAO has been a key relationship for the FAA’s Science Technology Engineering and Math Aviation and Space Education Program, known as STEM AVSED.  

STEM AVSED is the FAA’s K-12 outreach program, which is supported by over 1,800 registered outreach representatives.

These outreach representatives are FAA employees who engage with local students and schools to share the possibilities of a career in aviation.

Through STEM AVSED, we have been honored to support the annual international art contest with NASAO for over 15 years and continue to promote the contest through our networks. 

For the last two years, the FAA has also run an internal art contest through our childcare centers that parallels the NASAO art contest, but for younger students. 

This year, Mike McHugh from NASAO served as a VIP judge for our internal event. 

We are also excited to have been invited to participate in a STEM AVSED webinar hosted by NASAO next month.

In addition to outreach at events, such as art contests, career fairs, and classroom activities, the FAA has invested in our Adopt-A-School and Airport Design Challenge programs that specifically target historically underserved and underrepresented populations. 

The Adopt-A-School Program was launched nationally in 2021. The program serves schools that meet specific criteria focused on ensuring that we reach underrepresented and underserved communities.  

To date, the Adopt-A-School Program has reached more than 1,200 students from 16 elementary schools across the country in your communities. 

The Airport Design Challenge program launched in the spring of 2021 and was developed to engage a broad and diverse audience of K-12 students and educate them on airports and their leading role in the National Airspace System, as well as introduce them to a variety of aviation careers.

Using Microsoft’s Minecraft, students develop a model of their local airport with all the required airside elements. They progress through modules with topics ranging from airport layout, pavement and lighting to structures and innovative growth, all with the support of FAA aviation professionals, who act as mentors and judges. The students’ final task is to share their innovative ideas on how they would improve local airports and facilities to better serve their communities.

Since its creation, the Airport Design Challenge has had a total enrollment of over 7,000 students from 28 countries and six continents, including all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. 

It is our hope that some of those students will be sitting in this room in the years to come and we would love to have your support, as we inspire them to find their place among us.

To reach more students, we are shifting the Airport Design Challenge to a year-round model this year with our planned launch in April and getting the word out to local schools and ensuring that they learn about their local airports is instrumental to the impact of the program on youth across the country.

I have had the honor to participate in these STEM education events with our schools and have seen firsthand how it can galvanize the young people who will one day fill our roles.

Here’s how NASAO can Help

This shared vision for the future is one way that we are honored to work with NASAO, and we hope to see your involvement in our ongoing efforts. 

We now have a fulltime STEM AVSED expert in each one of our nine regions. These individuals are an excellent resource, and I encourage you to reach out to them to find ways that we can collaborate.  

Here’s how NASAO can help. You can:

  • Share with us communities where you see a need for a program such as Adopt-A-School;
  • Help us share information regarding Airport Design Challenge, not only with schools, but also your airports and encourage them to engage with local students in their communities, as they participate in the Airport Design Challenge program; and 
  • You can learn more about the many different programs and connections that we utilize to foster support of our entire industry by visiting

One example of the many ways our partnership elevates youth in aviation is that over the years our NASAO partners in the State of Oklahoma, currently Grayson Ardis (ARE-DIS), state director for the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, have provided scholarships for ACE Academies, in partnership with the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center.  

These types of engagements from our partners in NASAO support STEM AVSED’s strategic work and provide opportunities for youth that are passionate about aviation and will carry the aerospace industry into the future.

NASAO has long been an exceptionally valuable partner in this effort serving not only as a partner to the FAA, but to our economy and to our way of life and to the way in which we travel to connect with our families, our friends, and the world around us.


The FAA has a clear vision for the future and how we can best serve the U.S. and the global community. 

That vision includes cultivating our partnership with you.

That vision includes “upping our game” to be more proactive in our outreach efforts to improve aviation safety, efficiency, and sustainability in your state.

If we all continue to provide leadership through transparency, humility, and communicating our ideas—and our successes—in all areas of aviation, then on a global scale – other nations will continue to follow our lead.

This is a transformative time; and like many of you, I’m thrilled to be on the leading edge. 

Thank you again for your partnership, and thanks for the opportunity to address you today.