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James (Jim) H. Williams, Principal

Photo: Jim WilliamsJim Williams is a member of Dentons' Public Policy and Regulation practice and the Aviation and Aerospace sector. Jim advises Dentons’ clients on issues related to aircraft and space operations with specific emphasis on all things related to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—a.k.a. drones.

With nearly 30 years of experience in the Aviation sector while working at the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Jim recently served as Manager of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office. This office functions as the single agency focal point for all UAS-related activities and is uniquely positioned to develop and coordinate solutions to UAS challenges across the FAA and with external organizations.

UAS are often described as the most disruptive aviation technology since the invention of the jet engine, and the FAA’s UAS Integration Office has the daunting challenge of accomplishing the safe, efficient and timely integration of this technology into the National Airspace System (NAS), while balancing the political pressure and economic needs of the nation. In early 2015, Jim testified before the House Committee on Science, Space and Techonology.

Before taking the helm of the UAS Integration Office in March 2012, Jim spent six years as the Director of Engineering Services in the FAA’s NextGen Organization, where he led the coordination and integration of all systems engineering work needed to move the NAS toward NextGen. This work gave him a deep understanding of how FAA research progresses into a mature concept and eventually into the many technologies that become operational in the NAS. His office also led the development of the NAS Enterprise Architecture and NAS-level Requirements. Together these engendered a great appreciation for the interrelationships of the many systems which will be touched by the UAS integration effort.

During his long career with the FAA, Jim led the organization tasked with lifecycle management of all FAA communications systems and the implementation of the Safety Management System in the Technical Operations Service Unit. He has also worked with the FAA Command Center to transition personnel into the Air Traffic Organization, directed the team that developed, procured and installed all air/ground communications services for the FAA, and led the team that designed, procured and fielded the FAA’s prototype Air/Ground Data Link Communications System. Jim also led the FAA Team that negotiated with other federal agencies to create a second civil GPS frequency.

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