AEA Members of the Year Nominees

Each year during the AEA International Convention, two prestigious awards are presented at the AEA Annual Awards Luncheon: the AEA Member of the Year, which honors an individual from an AEA regular member company; and the AEA Associate Member of the Year, which honors a company that is an AEA associate member.

Two nominating committees — made up of AEA member representatives, including the previous year’s winners — are formed to prepare a slate of nominees. For the AEA Member of the Year Award, the nominating committee assembles a list of individuals who have gone above and beyond to promote the general aviation community and, in particular, are actively involved in the affairs of the AEA. For the AEA Associate Member of the Year Award, the nominating committee assembles a list of associate member companies who are being recognized for their service and support to the general aviation electronics industry, as well as their active involvement in the affairs of the AEA.

Once the slate of nominees is assembled for both awards, the slate is sent to the full AEA membership for a vote — which means the winners of each award truly are being recognized by their peers for their service and participation in the industry and in the association.

The 2009 AEA Member of the Year was Tom Richmond of Gulfstream Aerospace, Appleton, Wis., and the Associate Member of the Year for 2009 was Aspen Avionics.

The awards nominating committees submitted the following individuals and companies as nominees for the 2010 awards:

2010 AEA Member of the Year Nominees

Peter Flanagan
Pacific Avionics Pty. Ltd. — Australia

Peter FlanaganPeter Flanagan has nearly 30 years of experience in the avionics industry. He completed an apprenticeship with the Royal Australian Navy and remained with them for 11 years. Upon leaving the Navy, Flanagan worked in the general, corporate and regional airline fields. He has completed his radio, electrical and instrument licenses. Flanagan is the current business development manager for Pacific Avionics in Australia; previously he was the general manager for seven years.

Flanagan has been an instrumental part of the growth of the AEA South Pacific region. On behalf of the membership, he attends Australia regulatory meetings and participates in CASA regulatory working groups. He has attended every South Pacific meeting since the inception of this AEA region more than 12 years ago, and he attends every AEA International Convention. He is passionate about the AEA and always is willing to do committee work in Australia on behalf of the AEA’s mission there. He has been invaluable to Ric Peri, vice president of government and industry affairs for AEA, in providing help and guidance when distance has prevented Peri from participating in CASA activities.

Kirk Fryar
Sarasota Avionics Inc. — Venice, Fla.

Kirk FryarKirk Fryar’s involvement in avionics began at the young age of 8, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat next to his father. Growing up in Winchester, Tenn., Fryar spent every summer working at the local airport as the airport gofer in exchange for flying time to become a pilot. This interest in aviation led Fryar to attend Colorado Aero Tech and begin a career in avionics. After his training, Fryar opened his first repair station in one small room.

Later, he met Bert Van Kirk, and together they opened the company Sarasota Avionics International, a complete sales and service center with five avionics service centers in the U.S. and one international location. Fryar is co-owner and serves as the vice president. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children. A majority of Fryar’s avionics technicians recently passed the NCATT AET test and received their certifications during the fall 2009 AEA East Meeting in Tampa, Fla.

Soren Jakobsen
Dansk Fly Elektronik Aps — Denmark

Soren JakobsenSoren Jakobsen is the third generation of Jakobsens to pursue a career in aviation. His involvement in avionics began more than 45 years ago, when he began a four-year apprenticeship at Avia Radio. Following his apprenticeship, Jakobsen served in the Royal Danish Navy. Upon completion of his service to his country, Jakobsen was able to return to Avia Radio where he worked as a technician for seven more years, then became a manager at the Avia division in Roskilde, Denmark.

Jakobsen had a strong desire to establish his own business and, in 1986, he opened Dansk Fly Elektronik. In 1987, he bought a hangar at Roskilde Airport where Dansk Fly Elektronic is headquartered. Jakobsen holds a private pilot license and owns a Piper PA28-140. Jakobsen supports the AEA through attendance at the AEA Europe meetings.

Michael Kus
Avionics 2000 Pty. Ltd. — Australia

Michael KusMichael Kus is the founder and director of Avionics 2000 Pty Ltd. in Australia. Since its conception 22 years ago, he has expanded his business by 2,000 percent. Prior to starting Avionics 2000, Kus served six years with the Victoria Police Air Wing. He became a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer (LAME) in 1986, while serving with the police and is credited for orchestrating the avionics plan for its air ambulance service. His passion for aviation was launched in 1976, when he joined the Royal Australian Navy. He received avionics technician apprenticeship training with the RAN Fleet Air Arm and trained as an electrical fitter. While concurrently serving his country, Kus received honors from the Department of Technical and Further Education, NSW, for completion of its electronics and communications course.

Kus was elected to the AEA board of directors in 2007. He attends all AEA South Pacific regional meetings, participates in various CASA working groups on behalf of the AEA membership, and attends the AEA International Convention & Trade Show. When Kus isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Kimberly, and their 2-year-old twins.

Rick Ochs
Spirit Avionics — Columbus, Ohio

Rick OchsRick Ochs founded and manages Spirit Avionics Ltd., an FAA-certified avionics repair station in Columbus, Ohio. Ochs previously had an extensive career in the United States Navy and private avionics industry. With more than 25 years experience, Ochs has become a well-known representative and leader within the avionics community. He is dedicated to establishing avionics technicians’ national certification and academic accreditation standards to enhance professional development.

Ochs presently serves on the AEA board of directors and is a member of the AEA Program and Member Services Committee. He also is involved in other industry organizations, such as NBAA, NCATT, EAA and Youth Aviation Adventure. Ochs serves on several advisory boards and has received many FAA and FCC certifications and awards. He is passionate about youth aviation careers and has invested a large amount of time and energy highlighting the positive potential of aviation careers.

2010 AEA Member of the Year Nominees

DAC International
Organized in 1980, by Terry Armstrong and Michael Crouch, DAC International, a Greenwich AeroGroup Co. located in Austin, Texas, offers avionics and test equipment solutions for corporate and general aviation, airlines, special missions and military aircraft operators, modification centers and manufacturers worldwide. With many years of experience working as regional marketing directors of a Fortune 500 aerospace company, Armstrong and Crouch recognized the business opportunities of representing small, U.S.-based avionics manufacturers to worldwide markets.

The DAC concept was to identify a group of companies that produced quality products but could not justify an in-house international marketing arm. DAC’s extensive knowledge of worldwide buyers and sellers, combined with a broad base of manufacturers, became an excellent resource when working with the airlines, aircraft OEMs, executive aviation dealerships and brokerage companies. As DAC’s success grew, the company was approached by major equipment manufacturers for exclusive sales contracts.

DAC works with quality avionics manufacturers and often is viewed more as an extension of the manufacturer’s sales team than an outside distributor. DAC now has in-house capability for avionics design, system integration design and manufacturing. DAC International has been an active AEA member since 1983, and its staff regularly attends the AEA International Convention & Trade Show and all regional meetings in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the South Pacific.

Flight Display Systems
Flight Display Systems was founded in 1999, in Alpharetta, Ga., by David Gray. After two years of research and development, the company launched its low-cost moving map system. The company now offers more than 70 different FAA PMA-authorized products, including high-definition LCD monitors, articulating  mounts, Blu-ray and DVD players, and other audio/video cabin entertainment products.

Additionally, Flight Display Systems has developed innovative product solutions being utilized in military and special operations applications for front-line deployment around the world. In 2009, Flight Display Systems was recognized as the No. 1 customer service and support company for cabin entertainment by the Aviation International News annual reader’s poll. Flight Display Systems maintains a small business perspective and prides itself on being nimble, responsive to customer needs and continually investing in research and development. Another unique aspect of the company is a large in-stock inventory and 24-hour turn-time on all in-shop repairs. Flight Display Systems can ship most products the next day.

Recently, the company has grown by adding engineering and manufacturing employees to its team. Creativity and a can-do attitude have helped Flight Display Systems launch contemporary solutions for retrofit aircraft applications. Flight Display Systems has been an active AEA member since 2003.

J.P. Instruments
J.P. Instruments was founded in 1986, in Huntington Beach, Calif., by Joseph Polizzotto. Polizzotto was educated at Villanova University as a mechanical engineer and began his career in the 1960s at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, Conn. He worked as a test engineer, measuring temperatures and pressures on jet aircraft engines.

With the experience gained in thermocouple technology at Pratt & Whitney, he designed the Scanner in 1979, for his personal aircraft, a Cessna 172. When friends and fellow pilots saw the new instrument in the 172 panel for the first time, they all were interested in one for themselves. Several prototypes were built for friends, and JPI was born. Following the success of the Scanner, came the EDM-500, the predecessor to the EDM-700 series. J.P. Instruments has added an entire line of reliable and cost-effective aircraft instruments. Among these are engine data management systems, fuel-flow gauges and GPS moving maps. All systems are TSO- and STC-approved.

Pilots and mechanics have come to know JPI for its high quality, good service and utmost reliability. J.P. Instruments has been an AEA member since 1997.

L-3 Avionics Systems
L-3 Avionics Systems has been helping pilots fly since 1962, when it was founded as the avionics division of Learjet in Grand Rapids, Mich. The company has operated under a few different owners and names, including Jet Electronics & Technology, BFGoodrich Aerospace and Goodrich Avionics Systems Inc. L-3 Communications Corp. purchased Goodrich Avionics Systems in 2003. L-3 Avionics Systems initially manufactured flight control systems and remote- and panel-mount gyros for the Learjet 20 series aircraft.

Today, the company provides a wide array of avionics technologies designed to improve situational awareness and enhance safety, and it has been a pioneer in the development of collision avoidance and solid-state standby safety systems for general aviation. L-3 Avionics products include the popular Stormscope lightning detection system installed in more than 55,000 aircraft; the Skywatch collision avoidance system, the first active collision avoidance system certified for general aviation; the GH series of electronic standby instrument systems; and its latest product, the Trilogy electronic standby system, the first digital standby system for general aviation aircraft.

According to L-3, its dealer members have been integral to its growth and success. The opportunities offered by the AEA to provide training, exhibit products and exchange information with avionics dealers and regulatory agencies worldwide, make the AEA an essential and valued business partner. L-3 Avionics has been an AEA member since 1969.

Satcom Direct
Satcom Direct was established in 1997 to provide global satellite communications to aeronautical users. The company has set a high industry standard for providing excellence in satellite communications services, support and technology. Today, its clients include business and general aviation, military, government, emergency response, media, and a growing list of others who demand reliable global communications. According to Satcom Direct, achieving this level of excellence has been accomplished by listening to its customers’ needs and developing exclusive applications to fit their requirements and ensure their continued satisfaction.

Technology advancements have allowed satcom systems to be reduced in size, making them popular on a variety of airplanes. From the cockpit and the cabin to the pilot and the VIP, customers now have satcom options that were not available in the early days of aeronautical satellite communications. As an industry leader for aeronautical satcom service, Satcom Direct said it supports more than 90 percent of all corporate flight departments. Working closely with both the Inmarsat and Iridium satellite networks, its focus continues to be delivering unparalleled technology and customer support to ensure private aviation travelers get connected and stay connected — on demand. Satcom Direct has been an AEA member since 2001.

Universal Avionics Systems Corp.
Dave Hainline, President, Ramona AvionicsUniversal Avionics Corp. is an industry leader of innovative avionics systems used for more than 27 years on a large number of aircraft types, from helicopters and business turbine aircraft to large commercial airliners. Universal Avionics’ journey began with founder Hubert Naimer’s vision of a “master navigation system.” This system, he concluded, should be capable of accepting inputs from a variety of navigation and air-data sensors, as well as have the ability to integrate new data sources in the future. This innovative concept led to the development of the world’s first flight management system, which was introduced to the market as the UNS-1 in the fall of 1982. Today, there are approximately 19,000 UNS-1 systems installed in more than 10,000 aircraft in more than 150 different aircraft types.

Universal Avionics’ product offering has since expanded to include flat-panel instrument displays, cockpit voice and data recorders, navigation position sensors, Vision-1 synthetic vision systems, terrain awareness and warning systems, electronic flight bags, and cockpit/ground communications data-link systems. In 2008, Universal Avionics became the first in the industry to complete FAR Part 25 certification for its WAAS/SBAS family of FMS with LPV-approach capability.

Most recently, the Arizona Technology Council named Universal Avionics “Innovator of the Year” during the 2009 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation awards ceremony in Phoenix, Ariz. Universal also was recognized by Pro Pilot magazine as “Avionics Innovator of the Year” for the development of WAAS/LPV-capable avionics. Paul DeHerrera, chief operating officer for Universal, formerly served as the AEA’s chairman of the board. He also worked on numerous committees, including aviation tort reform. Universal Avionics has been an active AEA member since 1982.


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Founded in 1957, the Aircraft Electronics Association represents nearly 1,300 member companies in more than 40 countries, including approved maintenance organizations specializing in maintenance, repair and installation of aircraft electronics systems in general aviation aircraft. The AEA membership also includes manufacturers of aircraft electronics equipment, instrument repair facilities, instrument manufacturers, airframe manufacturers, test equipment manufacturers, major distributors, engineers and educational institutions.