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Friday, 06 October, 2023

NATA Announces Recipients for 2022-2023 Industry Excellence Awards

Washington, DC, October 6, 2023 – Today, NATA (National Air Transportation Association) announced the recipients of its 2022-2023 Industry Excellence Awards. Honorees will be recognized at this year’s Aviation Business Conference on November 2nd in Long Beach, CA, and will be celebrated across NATA’s online channels.

“The aviation business industry was built on passion, fortitude, and foresight – all attributes inherent in each of this year’s Industry Excellence Award winners. We are so pleased to recognize those individuals and companies that have selflessly contributed to the greater good through their dedication to advancing safety, empowering others to lead, and providing stellar service to their clients, colleagues, and communities,” stated NATA President and CEO Curt Castagna. “Each award represents a true acknowledgement from fellow professionals in the field.”

NATA is pleased to honor the following 2022-2023 recipients:

Mike Fronapfel, CEO and Executive Director at Centennial Airport/Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority in Englewood, Colorado, will receive the Airport Executive Partnership Award, recognizing an airport manager for outstanding efforts to nurture the relationships between aviation businesses and airport operators. The award is partly in recognition of Fronapfel’s leadership in providing unleaded fuel options at the airport in collaboration with FBO tenants, including jetCenters of Colorado and the Aspen Flying Club flight school. Fronapfel’s dedication to proactively offer more environmentally friendly aviation fuel demonstrates foresight and commitment to community partnership, benefiting all airport stakeholders.
The Excellence in Pilot Training Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made outstanding contributions in safety, professionalism, leadership, and excellence in the field of pilot training. Ben Walton, Founder and President of Summit Aviation, will accept the award on behalf of Summit Aviation, an award-winning part 141 and part 61 flight school in Bozeman, Montana. The Summit Aviation team has developed a jobs pipeline that begins with introductory discovery flights and leads today’s flight school students to becoming tomorrow’s Certified Flight Instructors, while building hours to become the charter captains of the future, either at Summit Aviation’s private charter operation or elsewhere in the GA community. The company’s program benefits the collective industry interest, providing a solid talent feeder into the general aviation space and educating young pilots on the wide range of career pathways.
Andrew Fuller, PC-24 Supervisor at Aero Center Epps Atlanta in Georgia, will receive NATA’s Line Service Technician Award. Prior to his 23 years at the Atlanta operation, Fuller served 15 years in the Royal Air Force in England. He lives by his commitment to being 100% safe and 100% sure that he knows what he’s doing 100% of the time, which he instills in his team. Fuller is most proud of his ability to send any member of his team anywhere at any time to complete any job required of them–making each one deserving of recognition.
The NATA Safety 1st Certified Line Service Professional Award acknowledges achievements of certified line service professionals on an annual basis thereby raising awareness of the positive impact that they have on safety, service, and business success. Damien Neff, Line Supervisor at Naples Airport Authority in Naples, Florida, is this year’s recipient. Neff has spent nearly his entire career in Naples, working his way up through roles including Line Service Technician I, Line Service Technician II, Line Service Technician III, and Duty Officer before landing in his current role. Neff’s work to bring up the next generation of line service professionals and his team’s safety record were cited by his peers in his nomination.
Roman Mendez, General Manager at Desert Jet Center in Thermal, California (near Palm Springs), will receive the NATA Future Leader Award, recognizing an individual who has shown outstanding promise, passion, and professionalism within the general aviation community. Roman’s success is attributed to his ability to build and create experiences for his Desert Jet Center team and for their customers. He believes that success is not just measured in profit and loss, but instead by whether his team is happy, continues to grow, and consistently provides a 5-star experience for every customer. Roman is being recognized for his commitment to leading by example and willingness to help others grow.

For general press inquiries, contact Shannon Chambers at 703-298-1347 or

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has been the voice of aviation business for more than 80 years. Representing nearly 3,700 aviation businesses, NATA’s member companies provide a broad range of services to general aviation, the airlines and the military and NATA serves as the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.