Aviation Week's Laureate Awards honor the accomplishments of outstanding individuals and teams in aviation, aerospace and defense for the preceding year. The awards highlight some who are pioneers in new technology, others who are innovating new ways of doing business as well as standouts in management and development. Perhaps these achievements will inspire others to reach for new successes.

Nominations were submitted by our editors, readers and outside organizations. The editors reviewed the candidates and, after a sometimes spirited debate, designated finalists in six disciplines. They also named two honorees for Lifetime Achievement Laureate awards and recognized one team for the award in Heroism. The final Laureate award winners will be announced at a black-tie dinner in Washington on March 6—look for more on the winners' accomplishments later that month in AW&ST.

Aeronautics & Propulsion

In just six months, James Wang and the AgustaWestland Advanced Concepts Group he directs built Project Zero, an electric vertical-lift aircraft that is testing new systems related to rotorcraft development such as electric tail rotors. The aircraft has conducted sorties of up to 5 min., powered by 150 kg (330 lb.) of lithium-ion batteries, during trials at the company's facilities in Italy.

The U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman X-47B Team proved in 2013 that a stealthy, tailless, unmanned aircraft can operate on an aircraft carrier. Using a differential GPS system and a digital interface between the carrier's landing systems officer, the unmanned aircraft repeatedly touched down on the carrier runway within inches of its predicted target, confirming it had achieved the kind of automation and accuracy necessary to be safely operated on a vessel populated with sailors.

Jaiwon Shin, NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics, and his management team steered a limited budget for U.S. civil aviation research toward future challenges, crafting a 40-year plan that accounts for the emergence of global competitors, environmental pressures, information advancements, and communication and automation technologies.

Through highly integrated flight and propulsion control, the F135 Integrated Flight and Propulsion Control System team enabled the Joint Strike Fighter's F-35B variant to achieve one of its key design goals: to operate from small-deck amphibious ships through the use of dynamic inversion. The technique automatically allocates commands from pilots to the aircraft's overlapping flight and propulsion control effectors.

Avionics & Systems

Sometimes seemingly tiny policy changes can help an industry chart a new course. Such is the case with the RTCA's Special Committee 213's development of a global, consensus-based system and performance specifications that are allowing industry to push the boundaries of vision-aided operations in a safe and efficient way.

In response to a growing number of landing roll accidents, Airbus's Runway Overrun Protection System team has designed a system that has helped avoid “several” runway overruns. First offered on the A380 in 2009 and now more widely available, the system operates from short final to aircraft stop, continually monitoring the total energy of the aircraft landing performance against runway and environmental conditions.

As infrared-guided missiles proliferate, Northrop Grumman's Guardian team has created the Directional Infrared Countermeasure (Dircm) capable of directing an invisible laser to the head of a heat-seeking missile to disrupt the weapon's guidance system. Guardian, which consists of a system processor, multi-band laser tracker and missile-warning system, is contained in a single pod that can be mounted to the underside of an aircraft fuselage.

The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command's Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) team is working to solve one of the most challenging problems for defense platforms: keeping aircraft current as they age. The creation of the FACE technological standard enables global defense programs to rapidly integrate software advancements, resulting in more flexible, less costly ways to adapt to changing requirements.

Business & General Aviation

An engineer with a passion for general aviation flying, Bradley Mottier initially specialized in advanced ignition systems, one of which helped the Voyager aircraft circle the globe and another that fired the space shuttle's main engine. Mottier was awarded patents for the world's first certified electric ignition system and the SlickStart electronic magneto start booster. That small business grew into a leading provider of ignition systems for piston and turbine aircraft engines, space vehicles and airborne permanent magnet generators. It was acquired by General Electric in 2002. Now Mottier leads GE's Business and General Aviation Integrated Systems Div. and is a champion for FAA Part 23 reforms as chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

A one-time airline and charter pilot, Kenn Ricci, the principal of Directional Aviation Capital, founded an aircraft management and avionics repair company before moving on to start Flight Options, now one of the largest fractional aircraft owner operations. An inveterate entrepreneur, Ricci continued expanding his portfolio, which now includes Constant Aviation, Nextant Aerospace, aircraft broker Sojourn Aviation, charter brokers Spinnaker Air and Sentient Jet, and Everest Fuel Management. In 2013, he added Bombardier's FlexJet fractional operation to the growing list and hints he is not done yet.

The 2009 bankruptcy of Eclipse Aircraft left 250 operators of the EA500 high and dry, with aircraft that had tanked in value. Chairman and CEO Mason Holland led a group that bought the assets and set about to service and upgrade the fleet and ultimately return the aircraft to production. The first of the highly upgraded EA550 will be delivered this year.

Commercial Transport

Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group, was years ahead of his European peers in recognizing that the model for short-haul flights had to change. As British Airways CEO, he reduced point-to-point flights, disposed of BA Regional and ended franchise agreements to concentrate on long-haul flights from London Heathrow Airport. In addition, the former pilot has taken on the Spanish market with a change of management at Iberia and the takeover of Barcelona-based low-cost carrier Vueling Airlines.

Bjorn Kjos, a former fighter pilot and lawyer, invested in Norwegian when the airline was a small operation with few prospects. Kjos had the courage to expand aggressively while outsourcing to curb cost growth. Now, Norwegian is exploring a new market: low-cost, long-haul flights.

The FAA's Wake Turbulence Program team is aiding the FAA's quest to increase air traffic efficiency. Studying the physics of the swirling winds left behind an aircraft as it passes through the air, the program has implemented changes in the separation between arrivals for certain runways. The results are already measurable at Memphis (Tenn.) International Airport: FedEx reports a 20% increase in airport capacity at its global hub there.

Through strategic alliances and innovative branding strategies, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has transformed the airline's international network. Joyce has also resolved long-running labor disputes with a bold move to lock out the unions and temporarily ground the airline. As risky as it seemed at the time, the act of brinkmanship paid off, forcing the end of a seemingly intractable labor battle in the airline's favor.


Alhough Raytheon's AN/TPY-2 was designed as a fire control system for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system, without the Thaad battery, it can also serve as a forward-based missile-warning asset. On Oct. 25, 2012, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency proved how the X-band system could provide an integrated missile defense system capable of countering a missile raid during Flight Test Integrated-01. It was the largest missile defense flight test in history.

The Saab Gripen Demo Program evaluated and reduced risks of the JAS 39E's key features: a new engine; modified airframe, with 40% more internal fuel than the original fighter; active, electronically scanned array radar; infrared search-and-track system, and new avionics architecture. The demonstration program was completed on schedule and at 60% of the budgeted cost. The total development cost for the JAS 39E, expected to be operational about five years after contract award, comes in at just $2.1 billion.

Europe's Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle team (UCAV) is as much a political marvel as a technological one. Led by French defense armaments agency DGA and prime contractor Dassault Aviation, the technology testbed is demonstrating Europe's mastery of the airworthiness of the stealthy unmanned aircraft on a budget of just $550 million. The team is incorporating a series of technologies into the aircraft and navigating the complications of dealing with six European governments through a development process simplified by Dassault and DGA.

Troops are able to maintain communications even in the mountains of Afghanistan as long as their high-altitude airborne information gateway system, Northrop Grumman's Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN), is flying. This “switchboard in the sky,” created to address an urgent battlefield need, provides relay, gateway, router and information-brokering services for voice channels, tactical data links and Internet protocol networks.


Led by Executive Vice President Frank Culbertson, Orbital Sciences Corp.'s worldwide quest to find flight-proven space hardware for a commercial U.S. route to the International Space Station paid off with Antares. The rocket uses a Ukrainian main stage powered by surplus Russian rocket engines, lifting a solid-fuel U.S. upper stage and the Cygnus cargo carrier with its Italian pressure vessel and a service module built in one of Orbital's satellite factories. In reaching the station with a demonstration load of cargo, the Antares/Cygnus combo now gives NASA two ways to keep its crews supplied.

The U.S. Air Force and United Launch Alliance team executed 11 flights of the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program in the year beginning October 2012. The team achieved its highest operational tempo in a single year since the rockets were fielded in 2002, an accomplishment that follows a previous record of frequent launch failures in the 1990s. The team expects to build on its success in 2014, planning 13 launches in the 12-month window.

Jean-Yves Le Gall, former chairman and CEO of Arianespace, is bringing his record of achievement to his new job as president of French space agency CNES. At Arianespace, Le Gall turned around the performance of the Ariane 5, booking 54 successful missions in a row, and was a driving force behind the launch of Russia's Soyuz rocket on French soil—a previously inconceivable alliance between Moscow and Paris. At CNES, LeGall is championing a more affordable successor to the heavy-lift Ariane 5 to maintain Europe's leadership in the increasingly competitive global launch market.

Blocked from participating in multilateral human spaceflight endeavors such as the International Space Station, China has made its own way into low Earth orbit and appears ready to stay. With five human missions under its belt and a clearly defined path to more, the Asian giant has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that its first human flight, Shenzhou 5 with Yang Liwei at the controls, was no mere stunt. Now led by Director General Wang Zhaoyao, the China Manned Space Agency is moving ahead with plans for a Mir-class space station early in the coming decade, while the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology develops the Long March 5 rocket that will be needed to orbit the station's core module.

The Philip J. Klass AwardS for Lifetime Achievement

Communications satellite pioneer Harold Rosen began his career at Raytheon working on guidance and control systems for missiles. He moved to Hughes Aircraft in 1956, and his team there made breakthroughs that led to the launch of Syncom I, the first geostationary satellite, in 1961, paving the way for what has become a cornerstone of military operations and a multibillion commercial industry.

In his 50 years at Bombardier, Laurent Beaudoin has led the Canadian company from its roots as a snowmobile manufacturer to a leader in the rail and aircraft industries. His achievements over the years are legion, but in 2013, Bombardier began flying its largest aircraft to date, the CSeries narrowbody airliner, an aircraft that is as important to the company's future as it is challenging to develop.

Aviation Week Heroism Award

In February 2013, the Royal Canadian Air Force Rescue 912 Crew flew a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter for 2 mi. at a 100-ft. hover, backward, into a raging blizzard with winds up to 80 kph (50 mph), to rescue three hunters stranded in the remote reaches of Newfoundland. All three survived.