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It Takes a Team

Fly FAA: Practicing What We Preach

FAA Safety Briefing
Cleared for Takeoff
4 min readSep 6, 2022


Magazine department.

By David Boulter, FAA (Acting) Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety

Whether you are in the window seat of an airliner or in the command seat of your own aircraft, it’s likely that you’ve been awed by the seemingly magical way things “just work” in bad weather. It may be that you’ve been in the thickest (and possibly the bumpiest) of clouds since takeoff. But modern navigation technology housed on the ground, in space, and in your panel comes through. There are flights in which you get little or no glimpse of the ground from takeoff to touchdown. Still, pilots and passengers these days can confidently count on this technology to guide the aircraft safely and accurately to wherever you’re going.

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It’s Not Magic!

Calling it “seemingly” magical is a very deliberate phrase. In fact, the highly accurate and virtually flawless performance of both ground- and space-based navigation aids takes exquisitely exacting work, performed by a highly skilled team whose members do the work to make the so-called “magic” work as it should — seamlessly, consistently, and precisely. I am proud to say that these dedicated public servants work for the FAA and, more specifically, for a part of the FAA called Flight Program Operations. It was my privilege to lead this team before taking my current position, and I am delighted that we are devoting this issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine to telling you about your aerial colleagues in this part of the FAA and the vital work they do to assure safety in the National Airspace System.

Photo inside the cockpit.
Pilots Lorry Faber and Dan Kirby fly over South Florida for 5G flight testing.


If you are wondering why we chose this topic and “What’s In It For Me,” here’s the story. This concept for this issue of the magazine started last fall when folks in Flight Program Operations reached out to the magazine team for help enhancing GA awareness of flight inspection work. We will certainly cover that important subject in detail, letting you know what it means when you hear the “flight check” call sign on the radio and how to operate safely in the vicinity of FAA flight inspection work.

But as the clichéd commercials go, “Wait! There’s more!” When the magazine staff learned about the breadth of the work conducted in Flight Program Operations, the staff decided it was well worth sharing. Accordingly, this issue takes you on a tour of the many functions this team takes on. We’ll tell you about partnerships with the NTSB and DOD, how we keep it real with part 135 and part 145 certificates, how we train those FAA employees whose jobs include flying, and — every aviator’s favorite — we’ll introduce you to the airplanes used for the work FAA does to make the “magic” happen when you fly. We also make a pitch for anyone with interest in this kind of exciting and meaningful work to consider FAA career possibilities.

We think you’ll enjoy the view of this unique operation — so read on!

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This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine.



FAA Safety Briefing
Cleared for Takeoff

Official FAA safety policy voice for general aviation. The magazine is part of the national FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam).