Grand Laureates Announced at Aviation Week Network’s 66th Annual Laureate Awards

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Aviation Week Network’s Laureate Awards

Laureate Awards Honors Outstanding Achievements in Aviation, Aerospace & Defense

The impact made by the Grand Laureates, from hydrogen electric powered aircraft to collecting and delivering pristine samples from an asteroid, demonstrates the very best of the best.”

— Aviation Week Editorial Director Joe Anselmo

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES, March 14, 2024 / — Aviation Week Network has announced the Grand Laureate winners for the 66th Annual Laureate Awards (#AWLAUR), honoring extraordinary achievements in the global aerospace arena. They were selected from a total of 26 winners of the 2024 Laureate Awards and were announced last evening at an awards gala at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, where all of the winners were honored. A Grand Laureate was named in each of the five award categories: Commercial Aviation, Defense, Space, Business Aviation, and MRO.

In addition, Aviation Week Network bestowed the Philip J. Klass Award for Lifetime Achievement to two individuals. Four cadets and midshipmen from U.S. military academies were also recognized as Tomorrow’s Leaders, honoring young men and women who have chosen career paths in the armed forces.

“With 26 Laureate winners making significant contributions throughout the world, selecting the five Grand Laureates was no easy task for the judges. The impact made by the Grand Laureates, from hydrogen electric powered aircraft to collecting and delivering pristine samples from an asteroid, demonstrates the very best of the best,” said Aviation Week Editorial Director Joe Anselmo. “We are thrilled to celebrate these outstanding organizations and individuals.”

In addition to the Laureate Awards, Aviation Week Network recognized the “20 Twenties” in partnership with Accenture and sponsored by Hexcel. This program recognizes the accomplishments and drive of 20 science, technology, engineering and mathematics students in their 20s and currently enrolled in a master’s degree or bachelor’s degree program.

The Grand Laureate Winners are:


Universal Hydrogen

Universal Hydrogen’s De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 propulsion testbed became the largest hydrogen-electric-powered aircraft yet to fly in March 2023, taking off with one of its two turboprop engines replaced with a 1 megawatt-class fuel-cell powertrain in a key milestone for the startup’s efforts to introduce zero-emission hydrogen propulsion beginning with regional aviation.


Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider

The U.S. Air Force’s B-21 Raider bomber flew for the first time on Nov. 10, 2023 – eight years after contract award and less than a year after its public rollout at Northrop Grumman’s Plant 42 facility in Palmdale, California. The milestone opens the door for the company to begin low-rate initial production of the first new U.S. bomber in three decades.


NASA/Lockheed Martin Osiris-Rex

NASA’s $1 billion Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (Osiris-Rex) fulfilled its primarily mission, collecting and delivering pristine samples from the primordial asteroid Bennu. Lockheed developed sample collection hardware which acted as a “reverse vacuum,” blowing compressed nitrogen gas to stir up dust and dirt from the asteroid and collect it in a canister for return to Earth in September 2023.


GAMA Electric Propulsion and Innovation Committee (EPIC)

Established in 2015 by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), EPIC has successfully brought industry together to provide coordinated input to aviation regulators and standards developers on issues raised by new technologies including electric aircraft propulsion and simplified vehicle operation. In August 2023, GAMA submitted a robust industry-wide response to the FAA’s proposed operating rules for the electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles.


Delta TechOps

The Delta Engine Maintenance team reimagined engine operations coming out of COVID-19 when the airline MRO faced significant increases in engine and part repair turnaround times and the addition of three engine variants. The result: the APEX program’s predictive and simulation capabilities have resulted in predictive part-level material scrapping, optimized engine production control, substantial improvements in material availability and eight-digit cost savings.


Clay Lacy

Clay Lacy, often called Mr. Learjet, was instrumental in launching the business jet era. Clay began flying at age 12 on his grandmother’s farm and joined United Airlines in 1952 at age 19. In 1964, he flew the first Learjet into Van Nuys Airport as a demonstrator for Pacific Learjet. And in 1969, he founded Clay Lacy Aviation as the first jet charter and executive jet management company on the West Coast. He has flown more than 300 aircraft types and logged more than 55,000 flight hours. He also helped pioneer the Astrovision camera system used to film more than 3,000 films and photo jobs for airlines and military projects including the original Top Gun.

Daniel S. Goldin

Dan Goldin is known as the longest-serving administrator of NASA, but his contributions to space go far beyond that. Launching his career in 1962 as a propulsion engineer at NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, Goldin went on to a 25-year career leading cutting-edge national security space projects at TRW (now Northrop Grumman). Appointed NASA administrator in 1992, Goldin re-energized the agency with his “faster, better, cheaper” mantra, oversaw the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, the landing of U.S. rovers on Mars, the redesign and construction of the International Space Station and forged an international partnership with Russia in the ashes of the Cold War. He also guided the initial design of the James Webb Space Telescope, rejecting early concepts as woefully insufficient.


Luis Carlos Affonso

Luis Carlos Affonso is the mastermind behind Embraer’s success in commercial and business aviation. He joined the company more than 40 years ago, in January 1983, as an aeronautical engineer. Since then, he has led the launch and development of multiple all-new commercial and business aviation aircraft, including the ERJ-145, first generation Embraer 170/190 family and the E-Jet E2 family. He also led Embraer’s diversification into executive jets. Later, as head of strategy, Affonso was behind the creation of EmbraerX, a unit dedicated to disruptive technology, and advanced air mobility spin-off Eve.


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