LAANC architect Merkle tapped for US drone tsar role

Jay Merkle, deputy vice president for the FAA Air Traffic Organization’s Program Management Office, has become the new head of drone integration for the US aviation agency.

Reporting to FAA associate administrator for aviation safety Ali Bahrami, Merkle has more than 25 years of engineering and programme management experience in both the FAA and the defence industry.

In his previous position within the Air Traffic Organization, Merkle supported the UAS Integration Office and was an architect of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) programme. Prior to that, Merkle was a key manager in the FAA’s NextGen Air Transportation System Office.

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office coordinates the development of regulations, policies, programmes and procedures to enable the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.