Operations Group Manager, FAA General Aviation and Commercial Division
By Paul Cianciolo, FAA Safety Briefing Magazine
The allure of air shows inspired Mark Giron’s interest in flight from a young age. His father, an Air Force veteran who served during the Vietnam War, strategically placed aviation books around the house to nurture that passion. However, Mark made the leap into space first.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Penn State University, Mark became a commercial and military satellite designer for Hughes Space and Communication Company in Los Angeles. Later, he worked as an engineering designer and manager of aerospace products for PerkinElmer Fluid Sciences in Maryland. After that, it was time to soar!
Mark took his passion for aviation to the next level by pursuing a flying career. He quit his engineering job and became a flight instructor at the nearby Freeway Airport (W00). Eventually, Mark became a first officer for Air Wisconsin, flying the Bombardier CRJ200 regional jet. In 2009, he joined the FAA as an aviation safety inspector (ASI) for general aviation operations in the General Aviation and Commercial Division.
“With a two-year-old and a weak economy, I wanted more time at home and job stability,” Mark noted. “The FAA was the perfect opportunity.”
Mark then became the manager of the General Aviation Operations Branch. He also spent time detailed to the Flight Standards Service working with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). He returned to the General Aviation and Commercial Division as an acting manager, and now he is the division’s Operations Group manager.
“Our team is responsible for developing policy and regulation for almost anything you do with an aircraft, big and small, once you leave the ground,” Mark explains. “Our ranks are filled with passionate aviators and aviation enthusiasts who attempt to create smart policies that impart safety where it’s needed yet allow the exploration of the freedoms of flight.”
He notes that finding the right balance between regulation and no regulation is the biggest challenge to those freedoms of flight.
“The team has been working hard on the MOSAIC [modernization of special airworthiness certificates] rulemaking effort, and we look forward to sharing the details soon,” he said. “The cost of aviation is growing increasingly more expensive, which makes accessibility difficult. The FAA has been entrusted with our airspace, that’s here for all of us and should be made reasonably available to use safely. Some of today’s experiments in electric flight and flight instrumentation systems look promising to deliver aircraft that are more reliable and built to fit the recreational side of GA at a price point that will give generations in the future the same opportunities I’ve had.”
Even with his busy schedule, Mark continues to fly at least a few times a month. He is part owner of a Beechcraft Baron 58 and flies to AirVenture to spend time with the GA community.
Mark’s advice: Train. Fly. Reflect. Repeat. Mark uses this mantra when he flies. He notes that as a pilot, there is always more to learn about yourself and your aircraft. Moreover, when you have family and friends aboard, ensure your preparation is evident.
“Sharing the gift of flight is something many will carry with them all their lives,” Mark explains. “Be responsible with how you share that gift, and understand and stay within the limits of your own personal skill set. Be prepared and allow them to focus on the beauty of flight.”
Paul Cianciolo is an associate editor and the social media lead for FAA Safety Briefing. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran and an auxiliary airman with Civil Air Patrol.