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Safety and Advanced Air Mobility

Up, Up, and Away Safety Header


Welcome and Opening Remarks 

Anne Aylward
Director, U.S. DOT Volpe Center

Derek Morgan, Chief Operations Manager, Aircraft Certification, Aviation Safety, FAA

Featured Speakers

Cindy Comer
Director, Certification and Safety Management System, Wisk

Eric Allison
Head of Product, Joby Aviation

Blain Newton
Chief Operating Officer, BETA Technologies


Recap and recording available now.


*The views of the speakers may not represent the views of U.S. DOT.

The U.S. DOT Volpe Center and FAA are committed to principles of accessibility and inclusion. If you require reasonable accommodations, please contact collateral duty Disability Program Specialist Stephanie Chase and carbon copy EEO Manager Eliot Sutler on your request.   

About the Speakers

Morgan headshotDerek Morgan

Chief Operations Manager, Aircraft Certification, Aviation Safety, FAA  

Derek Morgan currently serves as the chief operations manager for FAA Aircraft Certification engagement where he is principally focused on advancing organizational improvement through strategic engagement initiatives including those aimed at new entrants. He currently leads the FAA Innovate28 Certification i-Team and serves as a member of the Department of Transportation Interagency Work Group Automation Strategy Subgroup. 

With more than 25 years as an aerospace professional and nearly 20 years leading integrated teams, Morgan’s efforts and contributions have resulted in an array of solutions to challenging problems, new and improved partnerships, and empowered teams better equipped for more autonomous execution. He has led inter-division, inter-service, and inter-agency teams, all of which improved value through strong collaboration such as those stemming from his 10 years as manager of the FAA’s Military Certification Office. While there, Morgan’s diverse KC-46 Integrated Airworthiness Team was awarded FAA Aviation Safety’s 2019 Partnership Award. During the same year, he was awarded the United States Air Force Award for Meritorious Civilian Service.  

Morgan began his career as a flight test engineer for Cessna Aircraft Company while completing a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Wichita State University. He later worked as a flight test engineer for FAA logging hundreds of test hours in a multitude of small and large aircraft before transitioning to program management. During his FAA tenure, Morgan served on several technical and strategy-focused teams and completed numerous special assignments as deputy director for conventional aviation and uncrewed aircraft divisions. Most recently, he served details as deputy executive director and executive advisor for the Aircraft Certification Service. Morgan has served his community as an advisor to the WSU College of Engineering Diversity Advisory Board, board president and mentor for a non-profit mentoring organization, and other endeavors aimed at improving well-being of youth and professionals in the Wichita community. 

Comer headshotCindy Comer

Director, Certification and Safety Management System, Wisk  

As the Director of Certification and Safety Management System, Cindy Comer is responsible for overseeing Wisk’s certification program and efforts, including aircraft, production, and operational certification, as well as ensuring Wisk’s safety management system gets deployed effectively across the organization. She brings more than 15 years of extensive certification expertise, having held leadership positions at multiple aviation and aerospace companies. Prior to joining Wisk, Comer was Vice President of Certification, Quality, and Safety at Merlin Labs, where she was responsible for developing and implementing certification strategy. In this role, she helped the young R&D organization transition to a certification-ready organization and was instrumental in raising the $100M+ Series B round. Comer also led the certification of several products at Gogo Business Aviation and held roles as a senior systems and electrical engineer at UTC Aerospace Systems (now Collins). She earned her Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Marquette University and her Master of Engineering in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in control systems from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Comer is a voting member of SAE’s S-18 committee and a member of the Chief Women’s Network. 

Allison headshot

Eric Allison

Head of Product, Joby Aviation 

Eric Allison serves as Joby Aviation’s Head of Product. He most recently led the Elevate team at Uber, developing software tools that built on more than a decade of experience enabling on-demand mobility. Allison’s experience in aerospace research, electric propulsion, energy storage, vehicle autonomy, and composite structures led him to the CEO position at Zee Aero, where he spearheaded the development of Cora, an autonomous air taxi vehicle. He holds a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford, a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford, and a Bachelor of Science from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. 

Newton headshot

Blain Newton

Chief Operating Officer, BETA Technologies

Blain Newton is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at BETA Technologies, a Vermont-based company that is developing an electric transportation system to make aviation greener, safer and more accessible.

At BETA, he leads the company’s commercialization strategy and approach, ensuring the business is well-supported to execute its ambitions. Newton brings extensive experience, having previously held executive leadership posts at several high-growth, global healthcare technology companies including HIMSS Analytics, CapSite and Allscripts. In these roles, he oversaw multiple global product launches, opened new operations on 4 continents, and led multiple M&A transactions valued collectively at more than $1bn.

He holds his degree in Business and Accounting from SUNY Geneseo and has been a long-time fan of aviation, having grown up around the 174th [Attack Wing] in Syracuse, NY. When he’s not at work, Newton is an avid fly fisherman and enjoys spending time in the mountains with his wife as they chase their young kids around. . 

This series will be moderated by U.S. DOT Volpe Center Director Anne Aylward. 

Aylward headshot

Anne Aylward

Director, U.S. DOT Volpe Center

Anne D. Aylward has served as director of the U.S. DOT Volpe Center in Cambridge, MA since 2016. The U.S. DOT Volpe Center is a unique fee-for-service federal organization that conducts more than $230 million annually in transportation technology and innovation projects. 

As director, she steers the work of more than 580 engineers, scientists, and analysts engaged in a portfolio of projects carried out on behalf of all U.S. DOT modal administrations, numerous other federal agencies such as the Departments of Defense and Interior, state and local governments, as well as international, academic, private, and non-profit organizations facing transportation challenges. 

Prior to serving in this role, Aylward was the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s deputy director for Research and Technology. She has more than 30 years of experience in transportation planning, operations, and program management, and she is a nationally recognized expert in freight and intermodal transportation planning, policy analysis, and operations. 

Aylward began her career in public service with the Massachusetts Port Authority and served for 10 years as director of the Port of Boston. She began her federal career in 2006 as the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s chief of Transportation Planning.