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The Acting Head of the FAA Has Deep Ties With Aviation Industry Interests

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Jets taxi after sunset June 21st, 2001, at Los Angeles International Airport. 

More than two years ago, the man who is now acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Dan Elwell, got a work email from one of his former lobbyist colleagues. She wanted an update on the airline industry’s push to roll back rules on mishandled baggage and extra fees, among other Obama-era regulations.

“We are anxious to know when we’ll have a yes or no,” wrote Sharon Pinkerton, the top lobbyist for Airlines for America, in a February 3rd, 2017, email.

Elwell, a former airline lobbyist himself who had worked with Pinkerton at Airlines for America, wrote back 31 minutes later. He said he had “checked with” the Department of Transportation’s top lawyer. “We’ll keep an eye on them.”

Elwell was working at the time on a secretive deregulation task force. Weeks after the emails, the industry got a yes and the regulations were nullified.

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