Unmanned Aircraft Systems Advocate Mark Aitken Joins Akin Gump

(Washington, D.C.) – Akin Gump today announced that Mark A. Aitken II, the former director of government relations at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), has joined the firm as a senior policy advisor in its communications practice. At Akin Gump, Mr. Aitken will advise clients on regulatory and policy matters pertaining to autonomous vehicles.

Mr. Aitken brings to Akin Gump many years of experience on both Capitol Hill and in the private sector as a legislative advocate and public affairs professional. While at the AUVSI, the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems, he served as legislative and policy lead for all issues at the federal level, developing wide-ranging policy positions on issues before federal regulators and lawmakers.

Mr. Aitken led the AUVSI’s advocacy efforts regarding the House and Senate versions of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization and associated appropriation measures and has worked to expedite the U.S. framework for integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System for commercial opportunities. He also has significant experience working with the FAA on UAS-related matters, given his involvement with numerous Aviation Rulemaking Committees and appointment to the Drone Advisory Committee’s Subcommittee.

“With his extensive background in the policy and regulatory issues affecting the UAS industry, Mark will be a great addition to our acclaimed communications practice,” said Hal S. Shapiro, chair of Akin Gump’s regulatory practice steering committee. “He’ll join Jennifer Richter and others in creating a formidable team for clients in the UAS and broader unmanned systems space, and I am delighted to welcome him to Akin Gump.”

“As additional players seek to enter the UAS landscape and utilize this transformative technology, Akin Gump has an incredibly talented group of lawyers and policy professionals who stand ready to assist them,” said Mr. Aitken. “The firm’s work in this cutting-edge area of law is impressive. That, combined with its tremendous policy and regulatory platform, makes the firm an ideal fit for me, and I am thrilled to be here.”

About Mark A. Aitken II

Mr. Aitken began his professional career as a legislative assistant to former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), where he developed policy initiatives for the congressman’s work on the House Committee on Science and Technology. He also managed issues related to legislation on appropriations, energy, transportation, education, environment and other portfolios.

Mr. Aitken then became director of U.S. operations at Ansaldo Fuel Cells and, subsequently, manager of communications and public affairs for what was formerly known as Finmeccanica North America, now Leonardo, an Italian technology company.

In 2011, Mr. Aitken returned to Capitol Hill in the office of Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), where he served as legislative director, among other positions. In this role, he helped create and shepherd a partnership proposal that resulted in multistate cooperation for securing FAA selection of one of six national UAS test sites. Mr. Aitken also oversaw Rep. LoBiondo’s seat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, including his chairmanship of the Aviation Subcommittee.

Mr. Aitken received his B.A. from the University of Baltimore.

About Akin Gump’s UAS Capabilities

Akin Gump’s capabilities in the UAS space are growing to meet the demands of a robust list of domestic and international clients who remain anxious about existing aviation- and transportation-related laws governing UAS, as well as emerging laws and regulations. The hallmark of the firm’s cross-disciplinary team is its ability to innovatively approach new hurdles in this uncharted space, utilizing the legal, policy and regulatory capabilities from offices and practices around the firm, including intellectual property, cybersecurity and international trade, among others.

Akin Gump’s UAS team is part of an integrated policy and regulatory team comprising the largest government affairs group in Washington D.C. and more than 100 regulatory lawyers and advisors focused on telecommunications, cybersecurity, health care, environmental, international trade, transportation, antitrust, labor and other areas of law.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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