People in Aviation

 - August 2, 2021, 8:57 AM

C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger III—noted for his role in the successful “Miracle on the Hudson” emergency landing—was nominated to serve as the ambassador representing the U.S. on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). A safety advocate, author, and keynote speaker, Sullenberger is a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and retired airline pilot who has amassed more than 20,000 flight hours over a 30-year career. He became known for his skills as a pilot in 2009, while as captain of US Airways Flight 1549 he and his crew successfully ditched their Airbus A320 into the Hudson River after the aircraft struck a large flock of Canadian geese upon takeoff from New York LaGuardia Airport and lost thrust from both engines. All 155 people on board survived and there were only a few injuries.

Pilatus Aircraft has formally elected Hansueli Loosli to replace Oscar Schwenk as chairman, the company said. Schwenk announced Loosli as his successor in April when he revealed plans to relinquish the position, which he'd held for 15 years. Schwenk, who has been with Pilatus since 1978, previously held a variety of other roles with Pilatus, including CEO. Schwenk will continue to play a role in the company, supporting its strategic direction as honorary president. Loosli, a businessman who joined Pilatus's board in mid-2020, has chaired numerous other boards, including those of Coop, Swisscom, Bell Food Group, and Transgourmet.

John Foster has stepped into the role of chairman and CEO of Skytech. Foster has led Skytech for the past 22 years as president and has worked for the company since 1980. Justin Lazzeri, a nearly 20-year Skytech veteran, has taken the role of president. Lazzeri began as a part-time company pilot before moving into the role of director of marketing and ultimately v-p of aircraft operations. Rick Shepard, meanwhile, was named executive v-p of operations, overseeing both the FBO and flight departments. Shepard also has served with the firm for 20 years and formerly was v-p of FBO operations.

Mike Caflisch, who served as CEO of Aircraft Performance Group (APG) from 2014 to 2020, is retiring effective July 1. Caflisch, whose career spanned 40 years in a range of roles from engineering to business executive, helped lead APG through a transition from its original foundation to new ownership under AFV Partners, as well as through expansion with the integrations for RocketRoute and Seattle Avionics in 2020. He has served as an executive board member for AFV Aviation Vertical for the past seven months, helping with strategic initiatives and assisting through a leadership transition to Aviation Vertical president Shawn Mechelke.

Avolon named Felipe Campos chief technical officer and Steven Graham head of the Americas. Campos formerly served with GE Aviation and also held roles with Latam and TAM. Expanding his role with Avolon, Graham has been head of North America since 2017.

Tommy Sowers has taken the role of president and David Ivy v-p of engineering for flyExclusive. Sowers most recently was the Southeast region lead for innovation for the U.S. Department of Defense and also has taught innovation and entrepreneurship at Duke University, as well as co-founded and served as CEO of GoldenKey. Ivy has a background in leading technology teams and developing consumer and enterprise software applications across a variety of industries, including healthcare and data science.

Blackhawk Aerospace promoted Donnie Holder to chief information officer (CIO). Holder has served with Blackhawk since its inception 22 years ago, beginning as a receptionist, later moving into IT and marketing.

Universal Avionics named Christopher (Chris) Whelchel as CFO. Whelchel joins the company with 16 years of aerospace industry experience, most recently as v-p of finance at SolAero Technologies and also as controller for Bendix King. In addition, Jean-Marie Bégis was appointed director of product management and partnerships for Universal Avionics. Bégis has more than 20 years of experience in business development and implementation of mobile communications, aircraft data link services, and aerospace systems, including with SITA, CMC Electronics, and Avionica.

Smith, Gambrell & Russell added Jason Huff and Mickey Jett to its Global Transport Group. Huff who is a partner, and Jett, who serves as counsel, join the firm from King & Spalding’s Charlotte, North Carolina, office where they focused on rail and aviation industry transactions.

Sage-popovich (SPI) named John Brattain v-p of maintenance. Brattain, who spent 28 years in the U.S. Army, has more than 20 years of quality assurance management and engineering experience, most recently serving as director of maintenance for SPI and previously working as contract liaison with the Department of Defense. SPI also appointed Joel Brumm as quality assurance analyst manager. Brumm previously served with SPI as a student mechanic while earning his FAA airframe & powerplant (A&P) license. Gustavo Perez-Hernandez joined SPI as an aviation analyst. Perez-Hernandez most recently was a consultant to Jets Time and also has served as a consultant to Blackwolf and Associates. In addition, Alex Boatright was named aviation parts sales associate. Boatright has a background in performing aviation inventory audits.

StandardAero named Peter Wheatley v-p and general manager of its helicopters business unit in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Wheatley has served with StandardAero for 17 years, most recently as director of engineering of the helicopters business unit, and also has served as director of sales operations for its airlines and fleets division.

Air Partner appointed Andy Balser v-p of supplier relations. Balser brings more than 20 years of aviation customer service and operations experience to his new role, including spending 13 years with NetJets and also serving with Nexus Flight Operations Services, Hawker Beechcraft, Argus International, and Jet Edge International.

Mente Group promoted Ken Hart to v-p and group lead for transactions. Hart, who joined the company in 2020, previously spent six years with Hagerty Jet as executive v-p and three years with Welsch Aviation as an associate broker.

Ametek MRO promoted Andy Wheeler to divisional v-p and managing director. He succeeds Alan Harding, who has become divisional v-p for Europe and Asia. Wheeler joined the company in 1980 and has held a number of roles over 40 years, including as operations director and most recently as commercial director.

Texas Aerospace Technologies named Brad Sutphin v-p. Sutphin joins the company with more than 16 years of aviation experience, most recently as director of sales for DAC International.

Scott Sweet joined Heads Up Technologies as v-p of sales and marketing. Sweet formerly served as v-p of sales and marketing for Aerosonic Corporation and before that, was market development director for Inmarsat.

FlightAware added Bruno Moreno and Toby Tucker to its team in Europe and the Middle East. An aviation sales executive for the EMEA region, Moreno formerly was a key account manager for Cirium and has 16 years of aviation experience. A senior sales executive based in London, Tucker formerly led mobile crew applications for cockpit and cabin crew for SITA.

Gamma Aerospace appointed Daniel Drew as director of facilities, procurement, and administration. A former mayor and CEO for the city of Middletown, Connecticut, Drew has more than 20 years of leadership and operations experience, most recently as director of business development for Cadence Aerospace.

Duncan Aviation named Matt McGinn a Bombardier service sales representative. A former aviation structural mechanic with the U.S. Navy, McGinn has served with Duncan since February 2014.

Greg Gancarz was named manager of Duncan Aviation’s satellite facilities in Sacramento and Hayward, California. In that role, he succeeds Bob Hazy, who is retiring in June after a 21-year career with Duncan. Gancarz has spent 13 years with Duncan Aviation.

West Star Aviation promoted Dan Sies to Falcon maintenance supervisor at its East Alton, Illinois, facility. Sies has more than 20 years of aviation experience, beginning in West Star’s Citation department and transferring to Falcons in 2006, most recently as AMT lead.

Awards and Honors

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) selected Erin Miller, author of Final Flight Final Fight: My Grandmother, the WASP, and Arlington National Cemetery, for the 2021 Bruce Whitman Trophy. The honor was established in 2019 to recognize “… outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to aviation or aerospace in the U.S., and who by working with museums and other institutions have promoted an appreciation by students and the broader public of the sacrifices and legacy of members of the military service.” Miller, the granddaughter of Women Airforce Service Pilots member Elaine Danforth Harmon, successfully led a grassroots campaign to fight a U.S. Army decision to deny a request for her grandmother to be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), leading to a bill that was signed into law in January 2016 making WASP members eligible for ANC. Now more than 100 living WASP members are eligible. Miller further has used her books to educate others about the contributions of the WASP during World War II.

Final Flights

François Chavatte, who co-founded the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) in 1977 and later served as president and chairman of the organization’s board, died on June 24.

“With the passing of François, we lost one of the two founding fathers of the united European business aviation industry,” said EBAA chairman Juergen Wiese.

Chavatte began his aviation career in 1952 with the French air force as a reconnaissance and fighter pilot, according to information from EBAA and NBAA. Following his service, he joined IBM and ultimately led the company’s flight operation from 1969 until 1993.

In March 1960, shortly after he had joined IBM, Chavatte copiloted an Aero Commander 680 from the U.S. to France, marking the first transatlantic business aviation flight to land at Paris Le Bourget Airport. The Aero Commander became the first business aircraft to be based there, helping to spark the growth of what has become one of Europe’s most prominent business aviation airports.

In 1977, he saw a need for advocacy on behalf of the emerging business aviation community in Europe and teamed up with Frits Philips to found EBAA. Chavette was recognized as the first honorary member of EBAA. He also is credited for playing an integral role in the creation of the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE).