Jim Bennett’s wins Airports’ Highest Honor; should there be more for his profession?

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James E. Bennett, A.A.E., To Be Honored With AAAE Distinguished Service Award

Jim’s career has touched all of the bases

Shouldn’t Airport Executives be considered for Major Aviation Awards?


The aviation industry has four major moving parts—the users/airlines, manufacturers/repair facilities, airports and the government. Over 100+ years since the Wright Brothers, this business sector has chosen to recognize the exceptional contributions by our professionals in some aspect of this endeavor, such as Daniel Guggenheim Medal, Collier Trophy, L. Welch Pogue Award and Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy. The last award is considered by many to be the ultimate honor. The history of the aviation industry-wide achievement awards [there are other medals and trophies for engineering, speed records, exceptional flight skills, etc.] does not include recognition of the women and men who devote their careers to airports.

Jim Bennett’s selection for the AAAE Distinguished Service Award  exemplifies the excellence demanded of him and his colleagues. An airport professional’s career incorporates so much knowledge, breadth of experience, command of multiple technical skills and especial personal traits. Airport resumes frequently include work involving:

  • runway surfaces from laying of the material to the stopping distances of the tarmac through the life since instillation to its friction coefficient under different weather conditions;
  • Lighting and marking of runways/taxiways/gate areas

  • fire fighting
  • basic aeronautics—i.e. the points at which various airplanes will rotate
  • the layout of the airport—integration of the airfield with the terminal wrapped in a community
  • capital planning, finance of capital expenses, long term planning
  • operating budgets
  • Accounting
  • Acquisition/bidding processes
  • Airline operations
  • Air Traffic control
  • Congressional affairs
  • Construction
  • Customer service
  • DBE/EEOC/Handicapped rules
  • Employment
  • Environmental (air pollution, emissions, effluents, green energy and especially noise)
  • FAA requirements, in particular the Grants and Assurances
  • Rates & Charges—negotiating them and complying with the FARs
  • FAA Safety runway operations
  • Finance/Bonds/PFCs
  • Governance—dealing with the Mayor and/or the Board and/or whatever oversight bodies with some level of control
  • Ground access—roads, public transit, taxis/Uber, cars and parking, buses, rental cars, transportation to hotels
  • Insurance
  • promotion of the airport to airlines, retail tenants, on airport businesses and the local community
  • communications
  • technology advances
  • security
  • personnel management of a diverse workforce
  • retail development
  • dealing with a local government (i.e. City Mayor) or Board











Jim prepared for his chosen vocation with an undergraduate degree from one of the premier aviation programs, Auburn University (B.A., Aviation Management, 1978) and then an MPA at the University of Michigan (1986). Then, while working, he earned the ultimate airport certification– his Accredited Airport Executive.


The notable rungs on his career ladder include the Director of the Shreveport, Louisiana, Airport Authority, the Director of Aeronautics for the City of Flint, Michigan, and the Manager of Technical Services for Airport Operators Council International (currently, ACI-North America). The next assignments are exceptional—














[ his most recent position has been a PhD course in Patience by Job.]


CONGRATULATIONS, Jim on your award Your record should serve as a path for other aspiring airport executives to follow. The Wright Trophy Committee and industry award selection groups should be aware of the accomplishments of Jim and his colleagues!!!

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