Choctaw Nation’s Grimsley Joins Federal Advanced Aviation Advisory Committee

Department of Transportation taps CNO's executive director of advanced technology initiatives

James Grimsley

Choctaw Nation Photo

James Grimsley

Advanced Technology Initiatives News

DURANT, Okla. – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has appointed Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives James Grimsley to a federal committee.

Grimsley will serve a two-year term on the Advanced Aviation Advisory Committee (AAAC), which provides advice to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on issues facing the aviation community as it integrates drones and advanced air mobility (AAM) operations in the national airspace system (NAS).

All seven members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation recommended Grimsley for the position. In their letter of support, they noted his track record in the aviation industry, strong background in university research related to unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and a unique ability to engage in government advocacy in support of the UAS community.

Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton praised the selection of Grimsley, who has also served on the Oklahoma Transportation Commission.

“As Choctaw people, we are proud Oklahomans and proud Americans,” Batton said. “We are grateful the federal government recognizes James Grimsley’s expertise, and we will enthusiastically support his work on the AAAC.”

Grimsley said he will use his experience to benefit all stakeholders.

“Drones and other UAS will bring about important benefits for agriculture and many other sectors in the coming years, and we must think carefully about integrating existing systems with new technologies to ensure safety for industry and our communities,” Grimsley said. “I would like to thank the Choctaw Nation and our representatives in Washington, D.C., for their trust and support.”

For more information on the Federal Aviation Administration and the Advanced Aviation Committee visit their website.

About the UAS IPP Program

The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) is an opportunity for state, local, and tribal governments to partner with private sector entities, such as UAS operators or manufacturers, to accelerate safe UAS integration. The program will help the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) craft new enabling rules that allow more complex low-altitude UAS operations by:

  • Identifying ways to balance local and national interests related to UAS integration
  • Improving communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions
  • Addressing security and privacy risks
  • Accelerating the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations

The program is expected to foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to UAS integration, and provide actionable information to the USDOT on expanded and universal integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.

About the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 225,000 tribal members and 12,000-plus associates. This ancient people has an oral tradition dating back over 13,000 years. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, its historic reservation boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma, covering 10,923 square miles. The Choctaw Nation's vision, "Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture," is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. For more information about the Choctaw Nation, its culture, heritage, and traditions, please visit


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About Advanced Aviation Advisory Committee

Candidates must be in good public standing and currently serve as a member of their organization’s core leadership team with the ability to make decisions on UAS or AAM related matters. In rare circumstances, membership may be granted to uniquely qualified individuals who do not meet the previous requirement. Members appointed solely for their individual expertise will serve as Special Government Employees.