A4A Names John Illson Managing Director of Safety

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2015 – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, today named Capt. John Illson as Managing Director of Safety. Illson joins A4A from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) where he was Chief of Operational Safety.

In his new role, IIlson will provide strategic direction to the A4A Safety Council, and industry leadership to the Commercial Aviation Safety Team and numerous other industry safety groups. He will assist A4A members in creating and maintaining a positive safety culture and address any changing regulatory requirements in conjunction with A4A members and industry.

“John’s impressive experience in managing ICAO’s safety initiatives as well as his work leading safety programs with other global organizations makes him a valuable addition to our Safety and Operations team,” said A4A Vice President of Operations and Safety Paul McGraw. “As a pilot with years of domestic and international flight operations leadership, John understands well our industry’s commitment to safety and to improving the efficiency of the national air space for our customers. We look forward to working with him to best represent the U.S. airline industry.”

“Having spent my entire career committed to aviation safety, I look forward to joining A4A and working with the member airlines and other stakeholder organizations to continue to build upon our industry’s strong safety record,” said Capt. Illson.

Illson begins on Sept. 8, and will report to McGraw.

Prior to joining A4A, Illson was responsible for oversight of various ICAO programs dealing with flight operations, aircraft certification, airworthiness and safety management. Illson also held positions as a Project Team Manager for Operational Safety Analysis for the MITRE Corporation, as well as Assistant Safety Director for the International Air Transport Association. Capt. Illson was a Check Airman and Flight Training Manager during his 25-year career at U.S. Airways. He accumulated more than 18,000 hours total flying time while flying the Airbus 319/320/321, Boeing 737/757/767, Fokker 100, DC-9 and BAC 1-11.

Illson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in public administration from Georgetown University and Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Policy and Management degrees, both from the University of Pittsburgh.


Airlines for America (A4A) members are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and UPS. Air Canada is an associate member.

A4A advocates on behalf of the leading U.S. airlines, both passenger and cargo carriers. A4A works collaboratively with industry stakeholders, federal agencies, the Administration, Congress, labor and other groups to improve aviation for the traveling and shipping public.

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