People in Aviation

 - March 6, 2023, 11:18 PM

Joe Moeggenberg was appointed CEO of Levo. Moeggenberg, who has more than 40 years of aviation industry experience, previously founded American Air Services, which ultimately became Executive Jet Management (EJM), and then served as president and CEO and later president of NetJets. After leaving NetJets in 1995, Moeggenberg formed Argus International, where he was president and CEO.

JetNet appointed Derek Swaim CEO. Swaim, who has served as president and a member of the board of directors at JetNet since joining the company five months ago, previously served as an executive-in-residence at Silversmith Capital Partners; executive v-p of corporate development at Validity; managing director at Aeris Partners; and investment banking roles at Harris Williams and Goldman Sachs.

Air Charter Service appointed Joel Fenn as CEO of its new office in Washington, D.C. Fenn joined ACS in 2005, has held roles as private jets director in the London and Hong Kong offices, and most recently served as CEO of ACS’s Miami operation.

Lilium appointed Oliver Vogelgesang CFO and Sebastien Borel chief commercial officer. Vogelgesang has nearly 30 years of finance and aerospace experience, most recently as managing director of finance at Airbus Germany. Borel joined Lilium in 2021 as v-p of business and was appointed senior v-p of commercial in 2022.

Suresh Narayanan was appointed COO at JSX. Narayanan has served as president and on the board of Aerospace Quality Research & Development since its inception and has invested in multiple Part 145 and 135 aviation businesses.

Mel Solomon was appointed president at GE Honda Engines. Solomon has more than 25 years of aviation experience and has previously held senior leadership positions in program management, marketing, and customer service at GE Honda, as well as various technical and commercial leadership positions at Bombardier.

Denise Wilson announced the launch of The Jet Agent where she will serve as founder and president. Wilson has more than 25 years of experience in multiple facets of the aviation industry including 20 years of flying jets, as founder and CEO of a jet aircraft management and charter company, and as founder of a Part 145 repair station and FBO. She most recently served as a sales director leading preowned jet acquisitions and sales efforts for a top-ranking aircraft brokerage firm.

Volato named Joan Sullivan Garrett to its board of directors. Garrett is founder and chairman of safety solutions provider MedAire, which she started in 1985. She was also inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2021.  Additionally, Norm Katz was appointed executive v-p of sales. Katz has more than a decade of experience in aviation sales having held roles including v-p of sales at JetSuite Air and as a senior executive at both NetJets (Marquis Jet) and Sentient Jet. He also has  held roles with Gartner, Hackett Group, i2 Technologies, Dun & Bradstreet, and most recently as COO and founder of CuraPatient, a healthcare IT firm.

The National Aviation Hall of Fame’s board of trustees elected James E. Cooling as board chair and Douglas Schwartz vice chair. Cooling is the founding partner of aviation law firm Cooling & Herbers. Schwartz has more than 40 years of experience in aviation management, strategic planning, flight operations, operational risk management, flight crew training, and aviation human factors. Since retiring in 2016, he has continued as an independent consultant at Cardinal Aviation Advisors.

Industry veteran Leo Knaapen joined the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) as head of the organization’s industry partner program. Knaapen steps into this role after retiring from Bombardier at the end of 2022 after more than 30 years with the Montreal-based airframer.

Suzanne Markle—president and CEO of Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics—was elected as a member of the board of The Aviation Technician Education Council for a four-year term. Markle is also a member of the nomination committee for the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the DOT's Women in Aviation Advisory Board.

Wayne Fry, the FAA flight standards division manager for general aviation safety assurance, has been named as government co-chairman of the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team. Fry is a 25-year veteran of the FAA and previously worked for 17 years at oil-and-gas industry helicopter operator Air Logistics.

The International Aircraft Dealers Association (IADA) named Stan Kuliavas, the v-p of sales and business development for Levaero Aviation Group, head of its International Committee. Kuliavas replaces Zipporah Marmor, the v-p of aircraft transactions at ACASS, who was named chair of the organization in October 2022 and formed the International Committee.

Aircraft brokerage JetHQ appointed Simon Diggelmann v-p of sales for Asia-Pacific. Diggelmann began his career in commercial aviation, working as an aircraft engineer. He previously held roles with Jet Aviation Zurich, Swiss Aviation Group, and as a consultant, building contacts in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Australia.

Brandon Steele was appointed by Leviate Air Group as regional v-p of aircraft sales in Florida. Steele joined Leviate following a career as a charter broker where he negotiated close to $500,000 in charter sales with the company.

Air charter specialist Chapman Freeborn appointed Alex Rincker senior v-p of aircraft, crew, maintenance, and insurance for the Americas. Rincker previously was a senior account executive for Air Planning in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the manager of business development for Omni Air International.

Citadel Completions appointed Neil Boyle senior v-p of operations and GM. Boyle, who has four decades of aviation experience, previously served in the U.S. Air Force as a T-38A mechanic and retired 20 years later as an F-15E Fighter Squadrons production superintendent. He later held productions and operations roles Gulfstream Aerospace and retired from Jet Aviation as senior v-p and GM. 

Daniel Hickey was hired by Embraer as v-p of government relations for North America. Most recently, Hickey served as the director of government affairs at 3M Company and has worked at the Department of Transportation and FAA.

Berry Aviation welcomed Tom Ballenger as v-p of its unmanned aerial systems group. Ballenger served in the U.S. Army for more than 24 years including as director of the aircraft systems integration branch and as deputy director of science and technology at U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He also completed an industry assignment at Bell Helicopter.

The National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) appointed Justin Ellixson-Andrews executive director, succeeding former NGPA president Brian Gambino. Ellixson-Andrews is a long-time member of NGPA and previously served as the head of talent acquisition and learning development at JSX.

Claude Hurley, a former Transport Canada official and permanent representative of Canada to the International Civil Aviation Organization Council, has taken the role of director of environment and flight operations for the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC). 

Blueberry Aviation appointed Jon O’Connell as commercial director for the Asia-Pacific region. O’Connell has more than 30 years of experience in aircraft leasing, trading, finance, marketing, technical evaluation, and management. He has worked in senior leadership positions for airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and leasing companies including AWAS and Airbus Commercial. He most recently served as the Dubai-based CCO for DAE Capital.

Asian Sky Group (ASG) named Dennis Lau as consultancy services director. Lau has more than 15 years of experience working in both business and commercial aviation and joins ASG from Ascend by Cirium.

Nils Heuer was hired by Deutsche Aircraft as director of sales for the D328eco program and Christian Pürschel as head of communications and PR. Heuer has more than 10 years of industry experience, previously serving in sales and business development roles at Lufthansa Technik. Pürschel has prior experience in communicating and marketing innovations and industrial products at Thyssenkrupp.

The Air Charter Association (ACA) hired Julie Ellis to the new position of training manager and promoted former business and events manager, Madeleine Field, to GM of operations. With more than 20 years of experience in the air charter industry, Ellis will be responsible for developing the association’s member training courses. Field joined the ACA in 2015 and has had a role in running and managing a range of functions for the association, which is now reflected in her title.

Aircraft brokerage Jetcraft appointed Gerald Hooper and Laurence Vidal to senior sales roles in the Americas. Hooper was previously director of aircraft sales and acquisitions at Executive Aircraft Services and will serve Jetcraft’s clients in Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Vidal has held positions at leading OEMs, including an eight-year tenure at Bombardier, and will oversee the company’s South American territories, including Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

Chris Pratt was appointed by sustainable technology manufacturer Airborne Motorworks to lead the company’s marketing, research, and communications. Pratt has more than four decades of experience in product positioning and analysis, product development, customer research, and strategic marketing and planning. His experience spans major global OEMs, service companies, and MRO organizations in the aviation, process management, and semiconductor industries.

Bombardier promoted Étienne Côté to chief pilot for demonstration flight operations. Côté has worked at Bombardier for 15 years in various functions including flight ops, investigation, human factor research, training, flight testing, and cabin services. He most recently held the position of demonstration pilot in the flight operations team. Côté is also involved in multiple aviation safety initiatives, including Bombardier Safety Standdown.

Awards and Honors

The American Association of Airport Executives named David N. Edwards, Jr.—accredited airport executive, president, and CEO of the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport District—as the recipient of its Distinguished Service Award. The award is presented to airport executives in honor of an exemplary career and contributions to the airport industry. Edwards has more than 30 years of experience in airport management.

Final Flights

Aviation safety stalwart Russ Lawton, 70, passed away on January 14 following a prolonged illness. Lawton dedicated 40 years to aviation safety service, including as the first employee of the Air Charter Safety Foundation where he played an instrumental role in the development of the Foundation and programs such as the organization’s Aviation Safety Action Plan.

Before joining ACSF, he was director of operations for Wyvern Consulting and also served as an analyst and consultant for Events Analysis & Advanced Aviation Concepts, assisting the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA on safety initiatives. Lawton further served as v-p of operations for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and its AOPA Air Safety Foundation.

Last year, the Flight Safety Foundation honored Lawton with the 2022 Business Aviation Meritorious Service Award for his outstanding service and contributions to corporate aviation safety.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Sherry Marshall, stepdaughter Cara Marshall, and two grandsons.