Former FAA Executive Joseph Del Balzo Dies

Joseph Del Balzo
Joseph Del Balzo
Credit: JDA Aviation Solutions

Joseph M. Del Balzo, whose 36-year FAA career included time as acting administrator, passed away Feb. 11 in Philadelphia, a spokesperson for the company he founded after retiring from the agency confirmed. He was 85. 

Del Balzo started his aviation career in 1958 as an entry-level FAA engineer. The New York, NY native and instrument-rated pilot advanced through a series of progressively more influential roles at the agency, including posts in its Brussels office, director of the William J. Hughes Technical Center, and head of the FAA Eastern Region.  

In September 1991, he was named executive director for System Operations, and the position was expanded to oversee associate administrators directing major agency functions—Air Traffic; Airway Facilities; Regulation and Certification; and Aviation Standards. 

Two months later, Del Balzo became acting deputy administrator as part of the agency’s transition from Administrator James Busey to Administrator Tom Richards. Del Balzo held the position for nearly seven months. 

In January 1993, Richards left the FAA. Del Balzo was tapped as acting administrator and led agency until David Hinson was confirmed as the next administrator in August 1993. 

Del Balzo retired from the FAA in March 1994. He soon founded JDA Aviation Technology Solutions, a consultancy specializing in safety, certification and compliance for manufacturers, air carriers, and repair stations. Del Balzo led the firm until December 2021. 

“All of JDA is disconsolate in losing our friend, role model (in the true sense of the word) and inspirational leader,” the company said in a statement. 

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.