BY MELANIE ZANONA 

Daniel Elwell will serve as acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) starting this weekend, taking over at a critical time for the aviation agency, the Transportation Department said Friday.

Elwell, a former Air Force lieutenant general and former commercial airline pilot for American Airlines, is currently the FAA’s deputy administrator.

He was previously a senior vice president for safety, security and operations with Airlines for America (A4A), the leading trade group representing most of the nation’s major airlines.

Elwell will replace outgoing FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, who was tapped by former President Obama in 2013 to lead the agency for five years. Huerta’s term expires Saturday at midnight.

President Trump said at one point last year that whoever permanently leads the FAA after Huerta should be a pilot.

“Dan’s background as a military and commercial pilot and past leadership positions in FAA and the aviation sector ensures a seamless transition to continue the important mission of the FAA,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in a statement.

Prior to working for A4A, Elwell served as an assistant administrator at the FAA for policy, planning and environment during the George W. Bush administration. He later went on to found an aviation consulting group, Elwell & Associates.

Elwell came back to the FAA last summer when he was appointed to be the agency’s deputy administrator.

He will now be leading the agency at a time when Congress is trying to pass a long-term reauthorization of the FAA, which has been operating under a short-term extension.

Some House Republicans and the airline industry have been pushing to spin off air traffic control from the federal government in the FAA reauthorization, but the proposal has remained stalled in Congress.

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/367660-former-airline-lobbyist-to-take-over-for-outgoing-faa-chief