- December 29, 2009, 9:29 AM

Piper Aircraft has announced several leadership changes. President John Becker resigned from the company and was succeeded by Kevin Gould, who retained his title of CEO. Jeff Barger, formerly senior director of manufacturing, has been promoted to v-p of manufacturing operations, while Dr. Dennis Olcott, previously the company’s senior director of engineering, has been named v-p of engineering. Derek Zimmerman moved from senior director of aftermarket parts sales and information technology to v-p supply chain and aftermarket development, and Mary Messuti was promoted to senior director, Asia from director of production engineering. David Wilson, most recently senior v-p and CFO for polymer provider PolyOne, was hired as Piper’s new CFO.

California-based Solairus Aviation has promoted John King from CFO to president. Dave Weil, previously v-p of finance, was named CFO for the charter and aircraft management provider.

Gary Driggers, the long serving senior v-p of MRO provider Midcoast Aviation and a former chairman of NATA, announced his retirement at the end of the year.
Gulfstream has promoted Greg Laabs from director of service of the company’s Appleton, Wis. facilities to v-p and general manager. He served as the Appleton site’s interim general manager since last April.

Andy Cebula, most recently AOPA’s executive v-p of governmental affairs, is the new director of aviation affairs at Sensis.

AOPA has made several changes to its senior management. Robert Moran, previously head of the Ancora Group, has left the consulting firm to take on the newly created position of COO. Karen Gebhart, formerly the association’s executive v-p of communications, has accepted the new position of president of the AOPA Foundation, while Melissa Rudinger was promoted from v-p and assistant to the president to senior v-p of governmental affairs.

The National Air Transportation Association has promoted Michael France from manager of regulatory affairs to director and has named Owen Busch, Avfuel’s v-p of supply and business development, chairman of its environmental committee.
Rye Brook, N.Y.-based aircraft management provider Wayfarer Aviation has appointed Greg Kinsella, most recently managing director of DeltaFox Aviation, to the position of v-p of business development.

Dennis Walsh, previously general manager of GE Engines subsidiary GE Dallas On Wing Support, has joined gas turbine repair specialist Chromalloy as its new v-p of business development.

FlightSafety International has promoted Debbie Jones from assistant manager to manager of the company’s Hawker Beechcraft Learning Center in Wichita. In addition, Rich High has been promoted to regional operations manager. He will retain his responsibilities as manager of FlightSafety’s Cessna Learning Center in Wichita. Both moves follow the retirement of Marlin Schaefer at the end of last year.

Tobias Laps has been appointed general manager, Germany for ExecuJet Europe. He joined the company in 2008 as sales director.

MRO specialist West Star Aviation has hired Jim Wright as regional sales manager, responsible for the Northeast sales territory. He previously worked for Rockwell Collins government systems as the principal account manager for the Northeast region.  

Component manufacturer Circor Aerospace has promoted Luis Liu to director of quality and manufacturing engineering for the company’s Southern California campuses. Most recently he held the position of manufacturing engineering manager and technical site lead for the Citation campus.

Wheeling, Ill.-based charter provider Priester Aviation has chosen Charlton Wills as its new director of vendor relations. Previously he was director of sales for Wyvern Consulting.

David Behrens, most recently IATA’s director of infrastructure strategy, has been nominated to represent the U.S. on ICAO’s air navigation commission.

Arie Weisbort has been named general manager of the aero assemblies division at Israel Aerospace Industries’ commercial aircraft group.

Spanish FBO operator Assistair has promoted Christine Sastre to head of business development for the company’s Palma de Mallorca facility.

John Nelson has joined Air BP’s sales team, and will serve as representative for the southeastern U.S. region.

William (Bill) Quinn, previously director of aircraft sales and acquisitions for Cerretani Aviation, has created his own brokerage, Charleston Aviation Partners.

Kansas City, Mo.-based fractional provider Executive AirShare has hired Michael McMillan as senior sales director for Texas. Previously he served as president and CEO of autopilot manufacturer S-Tec.

Alain Salendre, previously military advisor for governmental programs at Eurocopter training subsidiary Helisim, has replaced Guy Dabadie as CEO.
Maryland-based in-flight communications provider EMS Sky Connect has hired Cheryl Galloway, an aviation sales professional most recently with West Star Aviation/Premier Air Center, as its senior account manager.

Addison, Texas-based aircraft services provider King Aerospace has named two new regional sales managers. John Burnum, previously a completion sales executive with Gulfstream, has been assigned responsibility for the Eastern U.S., while Blair Descourouez has taken over the Western U.S. sales and marketing efforts. He most recently served as v-p of operations for Ambassador Jet Center.

Tucson, Ariz.-based aircraft broker ZonnAir has named Mike Hauck, previously a manager of product development with Bombardier Aircraft Services, its director of technical services.

Duncan Aviation has announced several staff promotions. Chad Ostertag moved from avionics installation technician to avionics installation sales representative. Nate Darlington, previously an interior supervisor and interior department scheduler, was chosen as completions sales representative, while Bill Gehman was named customer service assistant manager. He was previously the company’s NetJets program manager.

Airborne communications specialist Aircell has appointed Shoukry Shokralla its sales and service representative in Abu Dhabi.   

Awards & Honors

Mike Bennett and Kurt Francis of Landmark Aviation in Scottsdale were named Arizona winners in the General Aviation Awards Program, sponsored by the FAA and a variety of national aviation organizations. The award recognizes individuals in the fields of avionics, flight instruction and maintenance for their promotion of aviation safety, education and professionalism.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student Angelica Maleskis of Port Orange, Fla., was awarded the Corporate Aviation Business Scholarship for 2009 by the National Aircraft Finance Association. The scholarship benefits students who are
pursuing a management career in the corporate aircraft finance industry.

Clay Lacy and NBAA will be honored at next year’s Aviation Hall of Fame induction ceremony in July. Lacy, one of the pioneers of the jet charter industry, was chosen as one of the 2010 inductees, while NBAA was selected as the 2010 recipient of the Milton Caniff Spirit of Flight Award, presented to organizations that have contributed to aviation heritage.   

Final Flight

William (Bill) Lear Jr., 81, the
former president and CEO of Learjet International and the son of Lear Jet founder William Lear, died on December 14, in his hangar according to his wishes. Lear, who earned his private pilot license in 1945 at the age of 17, became the youngest pilot ever to fly a P-38 fighter the following year. He then went on to become a display pilot, before joining the Air Force and learning to fly jet fighters during the Korean War. After leaving the service, Lear joined his father’s company and served in several roles, including test pilot. In 1963, he became president of Learjet International S.A., overseeing Learjet sales throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

He is survived by his wife, Brenda, three daughters, two sons and two stepsons.