The winners of Aviation Week’s 58th annual Laureate Awards, honoring extraordinary achievements in the global aerospace arena, were announced at a gala dinner in Washington DC on March 5, 2015.

"Since their debut in the 1950s, Aviation Week's Laureate Awards have shined a spotlight on the industry's greatest innovators and achievers," said Aviation Week & Space Technology Editor-in-Chief Joseph C. Anselmo. "We recognize the winners for their vision and for inspiring others to strive for progress."

Awards were presented by Aviation Week’s editors to winners in the categories of civil aviation, defense, space, business aviation, technology and innovation. In addition, the Philip J. Klass Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented to David Thompson, Chairman and CEO of Orbital Sciences, and John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer – Customers.

Civil Aviation winner: Airbus A350 program head Didier Evrard, for rigorous program execution. After its challenges with the A380, Airbus came good on the A350-900 development program. Launched in 2006 after a redesign, the aircraft first flew in June 2013, beginning a year-long flight test program involving five aircraft. European and US certification and first delivery to launch customer Qatar Airways were achieved by year-end.

Defense winner: Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) return-to-flight team. The industry team isolated and corrected a vibration phenomenon that had plagued the Missile Defense Agency’s GMD exoatmospheric kill vehicle for a decade and ultimately prevented it being flown. Flight test FTG-06B in June 2014 validated the fix and also demonstrated the most difficult intercept yet for the GMD system.

Space winner: European Space Agency, for the Rosetta comet rendezvous mission. The Rosetta spacecraft’s rendezvous with and orbit of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the dramatic deployment of the Philea lander on to its surface, is a historic achievement for Europe. Rosetta was launched in March 2004 and arrived at the comet in August 2014, with two asteroid fly-bys and a Mars swing-by en route.

Business Aviation winner: Nextant Aerospace, for bringing technology to business aviation at less cost by remanufacturing aircraft. Seeking to make the latest technology available without incurring the development costs of a clean-sheet design, Nextant first developed the 400XTi, based on the BeechJet 400A. Now the G90XT, a remanufactured King Air C90, is being developed with General Electric and Garmin and is on target for entry into service this year.

Technology winner: GE Aviation head of additive manufacturing strategy Greg Morris. A co-founder of metal additive manufacturing pioneer Morris Technologies, which was acquired by General Electric in 2012, Morris has played a pivotal role in transitioning the technology from laboratory to factory floor – and its first production application inside an aero-engine: the fuel nozzles of CFM International’s Leap turbofan.

Innovation winner: Raytheon and Saab, for bringing gallium nitride (GaN) electronics to military radar and electronic-warfare systems. With high power-efficiency, GaN technology is enabling the new generation of active, electronically scanned arrays for radars and jammers. Via different approaches, Raytheon with its own foundry and Saab applying commercial technology, these companies will be first to market with GaN.


Recipients of the Philip J. Klass Award for Lifetime Achievement

John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer – Customers, Airbus

John Leahy has headed global Airbus sales since 1994. He is one of the most prolific salesmen the industry has ever known. He has travelled millions of miles, chased hundreds of deals and amassed a backlog of airplane orders worth more than one trillion dollars. The Airbus story is inextricably linked with John Leahy’s career.

David Thompson, Chairman and CEO, Orbital Sciences Corporation

Under David Thompson’s leadership, Orbital Sciences has moved into human spaceflight. It developed the Launch Abort System for NASA’s new Orion deep-space crew vehicle, and used its expertise building satellites and integrating available space hardware to develop the Cygnus cargo carrier for the International Space Station.

After 35 years, Thompson is still pressing the envelope with the business he started. Just last month Orbital Sciences merged with ATK to form Orbital ATK, a $4.5 billion space and defense company with 12,000 employees. 

A detailed writeup of each of the winners will be published in the March 23 digital edition and March 30 print edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology