With 35 years in aviation safety, this expert is an experienced aircraft accident investigator, aerospace engineer, auditor, instructor and writer with over a decade of executive-level management experience. He is also a commercial-rated pilot with multiengine instrument ratings in airplanes, seaplanes and gliders.


Academic Background

Bachelor of Science; Aeronautical Engineering; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University;

April 1987; Daytona Beach, Florida




FAA Certified Airman

  • FAA Commercial Pilot Certificate with Multi-engine and Instrument Ratings

Seaplane and Glider Pilot Ratings; FAA Class III Medical Certificate



Professional Experience

  • RTI Group, LLC, Annapolis, MD, Aviation Safety, Investigations, Emergency Response and Flight Operations, 2021 to present.


  • Expert's personal company

President – March 2019 to Present

Aviation, and writer. Recent consulting work includes acting as the team lead for a court-appointed monitor of a large gas and electric company for the Department of Justice (DOJ); providing expert witness testimony and support for the DOJ involving the prosecution of an aircraft operator; conducting an investigation and safety culture assessment of a school bus company; and assessing the safety of a proposed drone operation. On-going activities include instructing at the University of Southern California Aviation Safety & Security Program, conducting safety surveys of helicopter air ambulance operations for the Commission of the Accreditation of Air Transport Systems, providing on-air opinion as an aviation analyst for NBC News, and consulting with transportation operations to improve safety.


  • Federal Aviation Administration; Washington, DC

Director, Accident Investigation Division – May 2014 to February 2019

Led the division responsible for ensuring implementation of FAA’s policies for investigations of all civil aircraft accidents and incidents in the U.S, including foreign investigations involving U.S. aviation products and operations. The division served as FAA’s primary liaison with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and employed an elite group of senior investigators who represented the FAA Administrator during significant aviation accident/incident investigations domestic and abroad. Served as the FAA spokesperson at three NTSB Public Hearings involving fatal commercial aviation accidents. Revised and updated FAA Order 8020.11 that governs the agency’s role in accident and incident investigations. Collaborated with all FAA offices in support of the agency’s efforts and response following significant accidents/incidents. Provided expert counsel when required, including depositions.


  • U.S. Department of Transportation; Office of Inspector General; Washington, DC

Assistant Inspector General for Aviation Audits– August 2010 to May 2014

Provided executive-level oversight of 90 auditors and staff at DOT Headquarters and three regional offices who conducted formal reviews and audits of programs that were overseen by the Pipeline and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Agency (PHMSA). Testified before Congress regarding FAA safety programs on three occasions. Responsible for the office's training, budget, and pipeline safety audit topic agenda. Represented the agency in all interactions with the FAA Administrator and PHMSA Administrator, their senior staff and Congressional staff responsible for oversight and appropriations of FAA and PHMSA operations. Reviewed, personally signed and issued 41 formal audit reports on FAA and PHMSA programs.


  • U.S. National Transportation Safety Board; Office of Aviation Safety; Washington, DC

Deputy Director - Regional Operations – September 2002 to August 2010

Managed 62 investigators and staff from all ten NTSB regional offices (later consolidated to four regions) that were responsible for the investigation, analysis and probable cause determination of between 1,200 and 1,800 aviation accidents and incidents each year. Led the efforts to draft and propose safety recommendations related to general aviation and helicopter safety issues. Served as a full deputy and key advisor to the NTSB’s Director of the Office of Aviation Safety. Elevated the stature of regional aviation investigative assets and significantly reduced the backlog of accident reports and petitions for reconsiderations. Was selected to advise the Columbia Accident Investigation Board for the 2001 Space Shuttle Columbia accident.


  • U.S. National Transportation Safety Board; Office of Aviation Safety; Washington, DC

Senior Air Safety Investigator (Major IIC) – April 2000 to September 2002

Assigned to the NTSB’s Major Investigations Division as an investigator-in-charge (IIC) and U.S. accredited representative (acc rep) for many domestic and international air carrier accidents and incidents. Led teams of investigators from the FAA, airlines, unions, manufacturers and other organizations to examine wreckage, determine courses of action, identify safety issues and propose recommendations. Traveled to Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America as the U.S. team leader (acc rep) to assist foreign nations in investigations involving U.S. airlines and aircraft.


  • U.S. National Transportation Safety Board; Office of Aviation Safety; Washington, DC

Aerospace Engineer (Airworthiness) – April 1998 to April 2000

Assigned as the team leader (“group chairman”) for systems, powerplants, structures, maintenance records, and/or airworthiness groups on the NTSB’s “go team” during numerous investigations of domestic and foreign aviation accidents and incidents. Drafted timely and comprehensive factual reports to document engineering aspects of accidents/incidents. Examples include leading the airworthiness investigation into the fatal Alaska Airlines flight 261 accident that occurred off the coast of California on January 31, 2000 and the Cirrus SR-20 prototype test accident. Also led the airworthiness investigation and wreckage examination of the Piper PA-32R accident in July 1999 involving JFK Jr.


  • U.S. National Transportation Safety Board; Office of Aviation Safety

Air Safety Investigator (Field) – September 1992 to April 1998

Northeast Field Office (Wash. DC) & Northwest Regional Office (Seattle, WA)

Assigned as the investigation-in-charge (IIC) of over 300 investigations of general aviation aircraft accidents and air carrier accidents/incidents not investigated by centralized go-teams. Directed all on-scene activities including coordination with FAA, local, state, and federal authorities. Also served as the NTSB representative on the FAA’s Critical Design Review team for the Boeing 737 flight control system following the fatal USAir flight 427 accident near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1994.


  • Cessna Aircraft Company; Air Safety Department; Wichita, Kansas

Air Safety Investigator – February 1991 to August 1992

As the assigned company represented, directly participated in 45 accident/incident investigations involving piston and turbine-powered airplanes manufactured by the Cessna Aircraft Company. Provided technical assistance to FAA aviation safety inspectors and NTSB regional investigators. Liasoned with Cessna’s engineering department on matters related to safety. Represented the company during field investigations, wreckage exams, engine inspections, and other inquiries.


  • U.S. Naval Air Systems Command; Crystal City, Virginia

Aerospace Engineer (Aircraft Systems Safety) – June 1987 to January 1991

Assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Aviation System Safety Program Office as a systems safety engineer. Investigated and analyzed Navy and Marine Corps airplane and helicopter accidents/incidents to provide meaningful technical inputs and engineering resolutions of identified safety hazards. Developed safety engineering requirements for aircraft procurement in accordance with MIL-STD-882C. Managed efforts of system safety engineering program managers located at seven naval aviation rework facilities.


  • FAA Technical Center; Aircraft Safety Division - Atlantic City, New Jersey

Aerospace Engineer – May 1985 to June 1987

Participated in a flight test program involving helicopter wake turbulence characterization to determine air traffic control separation standards. Analyzed test data and assisted in developing program milestones. Also participated in fire safety research for transport category airplanes at the FAA’s Fire Test Facility. Prepared instrumentation and assisted in the fire testing of a full-scale DC-10 aircraft cabin and cargo hold. Nominated for the FAA Technical Center’s Trainee of the Year award.