Canada’s Top 40 under 40
The new generation of innovation and leadership in aviation and aerospace
July 5, 2021 By Wings Staff
The annual Top 40 Under 40 program focuses on young leaders who are driving Canadian aviation and aerospace. These 40 influencers are chosen based on a demonstration of leadership, innovation, achievement and community involvement. This year our team expanded the program to celebrate the passion and perseverance of aviation and aerospace leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
IT Integration Project Manager, StandardAero,
Albig, age 39, joined StandardAero’s Winnipeg operation, at age 17, when both his father and brother worked at the facility. He started as a parts cleaner and quickly became a PT6 Engine Technician, for nine years, before becoming an Inspector and then Production Manager for the CF34/CFM56 business unit. During that time, he earned a Certificate in Management from the University of Manitoba.
Albig in 2017 joined StandardAero’s IT team as Business Systems Lead, returning to school for his Business Analyst designation from Red River College. He enhanced existing applications and built new ones to realize higher utilization rates. He also serves as an IT liaison with other business units across the globe.
In May 2021, Albig was appointed IT Integration Project Manager to oversee the technology integration of StandardAero’s acquisition of Signature Aviation’s Engine Repair and Overhaul (ERO) business. He is to ensure the ERO transition to StandardAero systems and network occurs with no disruptions.
Systems Engineer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Alibay, age 33, has worked on three primary Mars missions, including as Integration Lead for NASA’s Ingenuity technology demonstrator. Ingenuity arrived on Mars in February 2021 and was deployed to the surface – under Alibay’s supervision – by the Perseverance rover in early April.
Ingenuity on April 19 achieved humankind’s first powered flight on another planet, hovering for 30 seconds at an altitude of three metres as predetermined by its controllers, watching 285 million kilometres away. The historic flight lasted 39 seconds with Ingenuity’s counter-rotating blades spinning at 2,500 revolutions per minute to bite into the thin Martian atmosphere. Alibay coordinates the Perseverance and Ingenuity teams to ensure both missions run smoothly. This includes planning where the two vehicles are with respect to each other, timing missions, and planning all imaging activities, amid a range of critical measures and movements.
Born in Montreal, Alibay, moved to Manchester, UK, as a teenager and would study aerospace engineering at the University of Cambridge. She then pursued a PhD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in 2012 began what would become three NASA internships, including two at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). After completing her PhD, Alibay became a full-time employee at JPL in early 2014. She has also worked on NASA’s Mars Cube One mission and Insight, in addition to a number of proposals and concept studies for future exploration.
Captain, Beechcraft 1900, Pacific Coastal Airlines,
Ardila, age 25, discovered his passion for aviation at age six during a flight from Colombia to Canada, as his family immigrated to Vancouver. Just days after his 12th birthday, he joined 746 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and in 2013 earned his Private Pilot Licence (PPL). He became a squadron leader helping the next generation Air Cadets, and continued to serve as a C182 tow pilot for the cadets glider program.
Working on his Degree at the University of the Fraser Valley, Ardila in 2016 started an internship as a Marketing Research Analyst with Vancouver’s TrainingPort.net. He focused on global forecasting about aircraft pricing, human resources, and economic impact, while also working on social media campaigns. Ardila completed his Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and Multi-IFR with Abbotsford’s Coastal Pacific Aviation and then landed his first professional pilot work with Pacific Coastal Airlines, a regional airline headquartered at Vancouver International.
Ardila maintains his interest in business, co-founding a company called Hyper Growth Agency that develops a market presence for high-value items through social media platforms like Facebook. He became a Captain with Pacific Coastal a little over one year ago, flying the Beechcraft 1900. “One of the things I love about Pacific Coastal is the ability to fly such a unique and great airplane out here on the coast,” Ardila says. “The destinations are beautiful – going up to Haida Gwaii, Bella Bella. We go into Bella Coola. There is no other operator that provides a commercial service to a community like that.”
Manager, Engine Programs, StandardAero,
Bridges, age 33, began her career in the rail sector overseeing a relationship with Bombardier Transportation, eventually becoming Planning and Production Manager to coordinate multiple facilities. She created and monitored sales projections, production schedules and capacity plans. She worked with a team of four to develop a JIT Kanban system.
Bridges in 2016 joined StandardAero’s Summerside facility, initially as a Customer Service Analyst, preparing account reconciliations and developing finance and customer dashboards for pay-by-the-hour programs. She worked with a third-party to build a VMAX customer community, automating administrative tasks within Salesforce. In 2018, Bridges became Senior Program Analyst focusing on engine event forecasts, as well as developing all financial reporting for the company’s programs. She also designed and updated customer reports and dashboards.
Bridges in 2019 was promoted to Program Manager to oversee StandardAero’s VMAX portfolio and other pay-by-the-hour programs. She is responsible for customer communications and ensuring the company meets customer commitments. She also develops event forecasts and other fleet analytics for customers, organizes field and shop events pertaining to program customers, and identifies cost saving opportunities. In May 2021, she was promoted to her current role to lead a management team of six, including three people in PEI, one in Winnipeg, and three in Europe, with each person responsible for four or five major customers, but ultimately working together to meet all needs.
Quality Assurance Supervisor, Cascade Aerospace,
Buessecker, age 24, developed a passion for aviation through her parents who both worked for Canadian Airlines and subsequently Air Canada. Buessecker became an avid traveller and at age 17 volunteered at an orphanage in Cusco, Peru, where she would often spend free time sitting on a slope above the airport, observing how aircraft approach and depart at such high altitude. She studies aviation mishaps and disasters, motivated to improve aviation safety.
After graduating from SAIT’s AME program, and working for a local charter operator, Buessecker began an apprenticeship with Jazz Aviation in Vancouver and became a licensed AME. When she was laid off, because of the COVID-19 downturn, she returned home and joined the Calgary Flying Club to earn her PPL.
“My instructor [Erin Sinclair] is an incredible pilot and she was very devoted to helping me learn,” Buessecker explains, who also received her float and night ratings, and continues toward a CPL. At the end of 2020, Buessecker joined Cascade Aerospace in Abbotsford as a Quality Assurance Supervisor/Auditor.
Shelly De Caria
Senior Director, Community Relations and Sales, Canadian North,
De Caria, age 36, joined Canadian North in 2013 and in May 2020 moved into her current position, leading the airline’s initiatives to support the well-being of the communities it serves, primarily focused on Indigenous peoples. Her lived experience as an Inuit beneficiary from Kuujjuaq, Québec, provides De Caria with insight into how the airline can develop its platform and programs. This became more critical with the recent completion of the integration of Canadian North and First Air following their 2019 merger.
De Caria early in her career held key positions at several national Inuit organizations, including Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. At Canadian North, she developed a unique partnership with Canada Goose to distribute fabrics to northern craftspeople, which they can then use to make warm clothing for their families while preserving valuable traditional skills. In addition to serving as a role model for Inuit women, De Caria is a member of the airline’s Women in Leadership group for inclusion in aviation. She also works closely with northern organizations supporting mental health, youth sports and suicide prevention.
Director, National Programming, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association,
Cheung, age 28, leads the national programing of Canada’s largest aviation association with more than 15,000 members. This includes helping to build a new safety program, connecting almost 1,500 pilots each month, and recent launch of COPA’s drone membership program, including insurance and regulation support.
Cheung joined COPA at the start of 2021 from NAV Canada, where she managed national stakeholder relations initiatives relating to RSC NOTAM, RPAS, space-based ADS-B, CFPS, level of service and airspace changes and aircraft noise. During her time NAV Canada, she received a President’s Award for supporting the deployment of Established on RNP-AR at Calgary Airport, a transformative separation standard and global first.
Cheung is currently developing a new inclusive mentorship program for pilots of all backgrounds, as well as a leadership summit to re-engage the large COPA Flight – local club – network.
Corporate Pilot and Aviation Safety Manager, Coywolf Aviation,
Couch, age 30, two years ago left her job as a flight attendant with Emirates to follow her dream of becoming a pilot. In April, she completed the last day of Multi-Crew Cooperation training, effectively wrapping up her Integrated Airline Transport Pilot Licence program with Brampton Flight Centre. “It is a strange time to have completed my training in the midst of a global pandemic, but I’m staying optimistic about the future,” Couch says. “I’ve been so fortunate to get a taste of real world flying on the Pilatus PC-12 NG.”
In addition to her five years with Emirates, based out of Dubai, Couch gained experience with Skyservice, Ornge and a Pratt & Whitney internship. Couch earned a Master’s degree in Aviation Management from Griffith University. Couch is involved in a range of programs promoting inclusivity in aviation, including The Ninety-Nines, Northern Lights Aero Foundation, Women in Aviation International, Elevate Aviation and the Urban Pilots Network.
Manager, Charter Operations, Canadian North,
Evers, age 32, was born into the world of aviation with her parents owning a skydiving drop zone at Pitt Meadows Airport. She attended the Business Aviation program at the University of the Fraser Valley, working toward a CPL. With school wrapping up, Evers took her first aviation job flying skydivers in a Cessna 206 and Cessna 182 in Beiseker, AB.
Evers joined Canadian North in 2015 as a Charter Specialist followed by roles as Charters Account Manager (2016); Manager, Security & Emergency Response (2017); and Manager, Imperial Oil & Charter Sales (2020). In her current role, Evers leads Canadian North’s complex charter operations, which on a typical day carries 2,000 to 3,000 passengers.
Evers played a key role in the Canadian North/First Air merger, supporting the harmonization of the airline’s charter procedures. “There’s just a great appreciation for all of the people who are in the background, making things happen,” Evers says, noting work is underway to bring on two 737-700s. “We’re a family and we have the right people in the right places to make these decisions in order to help our company move forward and grow.”
Lead Captain, Scheduled Service, and Officer, Air Navigation, Helijet International,
Ferguson, age 34, earned his commercial helicopter license at age 21 and began working as a base pilot and helipad inspector in Ontario. In 2011, he joined Canadian Helicopters in Afghanistan for a year as a Loadmaster and was then hired by Helicopter Transport Services to fly the CTV News helicopter in Toronto. He then joined Niagara Helicopters, where he would become Chief Pilot at age 25.
Ferguson in 2014 completed his IFR rating and moved to Vancouver to work with Helijet, the world’s largest helicopter airline. In his current position, he supervises flight crews as a Standards Captain and also serves as Line Indoctrination Captain, onboarding new pilots and preparing them for flying in low-level IFR airspace. He monitors the daily needs of flight crews and is responsible for maintaining airline documents, including standard operating procedures, which he has rewritten extensively. As a company Aviation Safety Officer, he works closely with the Safety Team within Helijet’s SMS system.
Ferguson also recently added responsibility as Officer, Air Navigation, creating and maintaining the company’s IFR route structure, Standard Instrument Departure Procedures, and GPS Based Approaches. He regularly liaises with NAV Canada to ensure a safe and efficient low-level operation within the Vancouver Flight Information Region.
Director of Maintenance, AirSprint,
Foley, age 37, graduated from SAIT in 2004 and began his AME apprenticeship with AirSprint, founded four years earlier. AirSprint today holds Canada’s largest fractional fleet of private aircraft. Foley was licenced with M1 and M2 ratings in 2007 and added to his skill set in roles like AME Crew Chief, Production Coordinator and Western Maintenance Manager.
Since 2015 has led the vision and strategic direction of AirSprint’s maintenance department, implementing a range of processes and adopting new technologies. He played a key role in adding the Cessna Citation CJ3+ and Embraer Legacy 450 to AirSprint’s fleet. The Legacy 450 was a new aircraft type and category for AirSprint – and also the first of its kind in Canada. “When you’re the first of a type, you’re the leader in developing all of the information and learning,” Foley says.
Earlier this year, Foley oversaw AirSprint’s first conversion of a Legacy 450 to a Praetor 500. The company’s Citation fleet is 11 jets with the June 2021 delivery of its fifth CJ3+, joining eight Embraer Praetor 500s/Legacy 450s.
Manager, Customer Service,StandardAero,
Fraser, age 37, joined StandardAero’s Summerside facility in 2004 as a Financial Analyst. In 2008, he became Parts Distribution Manager for the facility, responsible for over-the-counter part sales and the service centre network, working closely with colleagues from Pratt & Whitney Canada.
In 2011, Fraser was appointed Customer Service Manager to serve as the primary point of contact for customers during the engine maintenance process. Working with both complex commercial accounts and military customers required the creation of financial forecasts, cost estimates and summary condition reports. In 2018, he was at the centre of the company’s sales process as a Customer Product Manager, serving as the initial point of contact between the company’s Regional Sales Managers and the Summerside business unit itself. In 2020, Fraser was promoted to Manager, Customer Service, responsible for the supervision of the eight members of the CSM team plus the management of Summerside’s customer relationships as they relate to the entire engine MRO cycle.
“I think that the industry is coming back fast and StandardAero is going to be leading this charge on the MRO side,” says Fraser, who earned his Six Sigma certification to help foster a strong interdepartmental environment. “There is a great team atmosphere here and our people have tons of experience.”
Air Transat, and Co-founder, Canadian Flight Trainers,
Gustin, age 30, was eager to get back flying for Air Transat as vaccinations increased and the company redrew its plans for a busy 2022 winter schedule. Gustin formalized his passion for teaching and aviation through the co-founding of a ground school provider called Canadian Flight Trainers (CFT), which focuses on online, accessible, and practical training for pilots preparing for their PPL, CPL or Instructor Rating, among others.
Gustin, who recently completed his first year of graduate studies in a Master in Education program with the University of Windsor, is intent on changing the way ground school is taught, by encouraging students to learn instead of just studying to pass exams. He feels there are serious deficiencies in most ground training that can leave students overwhelmed and underprepared for real-world flying. CFT aims to fill a gap between the theories of aviation and the safe practical application of skills. “We use a variety of learning activities and assessments and we don’t just focus on multiple choice questions,” Gustin explains. “We focus on many domains of learning and different levels of complexity that students need to perform at.”
Gustin has been flying for more than 15 years since earning his PPL. He is one of a just a few dozen Class 1 Aerobatic Instructors in Canada, while also holding a Class 1 Instructor Rating on his ATPL, and serving as an A330 Simulator Instructor with Air Transat. His commercial flight experience includes roles for an international geophysical survey company and working as a Captain at Sky Regional, before joining Air Transat as a First Officer in 2017.
Founder, President and CEO, Vmo Solutions,
Hanus, age 38, founded Vmo Solutions just over 11 years ago to develop flight operations software tailored to regional carriers. He earned his PPL as a teenager and developed a successful and varied commercial pilot career, working with operators like V. Kelner Pilatus, Air Labrador, Trans Capital Air, Provincial Airlines (PAL), and eventually became a 737 First Officer with Sunwing out of Toronto.
Hanus from an early age also held a keen interest in computing and often found himself working closely with flight operations and IT at the airlines where he worked, helping to overcome technical challenges or sourcing software. He recognized a gap in the market for modern operational control software that is suited to leaner organizations with varied operation types. Hanus put flying on hold and built the first version of Vmo’s Web-based operational control software, called OC.
“The data from flight ops can be undervalued at times. From a performance standpoint, airlines can learn a lot from what they are doing on the flight-ops side and potentially save a lot of money through making their systems and processes more efficient,” Hanus says. “It’s not just data, it’s also integration; and I think that was a major problem especially for midsize airlines.” OC was first implemented by PAL Airlines and later rolled out to other carriers across Canada. It helps improve the efficiency of flight operations and provides high-level reporting for executives and managers. Vmo is nearing the completion a major version upgrade to OC, implementing new tools like payload predictions and past performances, as well as new interfaces to make OC more reliable, faster and easier to use.
Chief Financial Officer and Co-owner, Silver King Helicopters,
Hinds, age 37, started Silver King Helicopters with her life and business partner just over 10 years ago with one leased helicopter, as well as a “fantastic engineer” and friend who happened to live just down the street. Today, Silver King owns and operates nine A-Stars and positions itself as specializing in precision vertical reference tasks flying in BC’s challenging North Coastal mountains.
Silver King now brings diverse and high-time experience to the sector, with a robust Safety Management System that includes a safety and incident reporting program. “We have nothing to hide in our business model. We welcome auditors. We welcome Transport into our business – quality and adhering to the standards is very important to us,” Hinds says.
Prior to starting Silver King, Hinds had built a successful career as a contractor in real estate appraising, which helped in formulating a solid business plan in the capital-intensive rotary world. “We aim to be the best and we’ve been very fortunate in bringing on people who are some of the best in the industry. We do not take on pilots with less than 3,000 hours and they all have to excel in drill moving and mountain flying before they even set foot in our helicopters.”
First Officer, Boeing 737, WestJet,
Jackson, age 37, engaged aviation at an earlier age through Air Cadets, where she earned both her Glider qualification and PPL. In the early part of her career, she piloted scheduled and charter flights to many different Caribbean islands, specializing in perilous approaches to St. Barths and Saba.
Jackson also flew for the United Nations, providing critical resupply and refugee evacuation flights throughout Afghanistan and South Sudan during its military coup in 2013/2014. She also piloted medevac flights in northern Ontario. Serving today as B737 First Officer with WestJet, Jackson spent the past two years revitalizing the Upper Canada Chapter of Women in Aviation, International.
Jackson is a recent graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (BSc 2016 and MSc 2020) and uses her education to develop human factors training programs and contributing to improvements in human performance and aircraft accident investigation, analysis and prevention across Canada, as well as on a global scale through the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Association (IFALPA), where she also contributes to the President’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, as well as the IFALPA Female Pilots Working Group and Accident Analysis and Prevention group. Jackson is set to begin her doctoral research in this area in August 2021.
AME, Enterprise Airlines, and Co-founder, Northport Aviation,
Port Perry, ON
King, age 34, began his aviation career with Enterprise Aviation at Oshawa Executive Airport, joining the maintenance department to help with its build of a Cessna 150 now used by the Durham Flight Centre. King privately earned his AME Licence, in addition to his PPL, as he continued to gain hands-on technical experience with Enterprise. He then started working full time as a mechanic travelling the globe for Enterprise on its geographic survey Baslers (Turbine DC-3).
After returning to the Enterprise hangar, King became type rated on the Falcon 20 for Air Nunavut and started overhauling small piston engines for Enterprise’s flight school. In 2019, King co-founded Northport to develop a federally regulated airport just north of Port Perry on Lake Scugog. The team at Northport aims to extend the airport’s 2,000-foot grass runway to around 2,700 feet, drawing in more private planes and seasonal float changes, annuals, and a range of needs within the general aviation community.
King is also working on his own projects like the build of a Cessna 170B (for the second time after a windstorm) and an experimental Super Cub. King continues to enjoy the uniqueness of Enterprise and spending his time between the two operations. “With Enterprise, you feel like you are a part of something,” King says. “They count on you and it shows at the end of the day, getting that plane out there.”
Vice President of Maintenance, Calm Air International,
Kroeker, age 33, was recently promoted to lead Calm Air’s maintenance operation. He has been working with Calm Air for 11 years, helping the commercial airline serve as a critical passenger and cargo link to Canada’s Northern regions. Calm Air has been an established scheduled air carrier since 1962 and has operated in Nunavut since 1974. In 1975, Calm Air began operations in Churchill, Manitoba’s Arctic Seaport, and in 2009 was purchased by what is now Exchange Income Corporation.
Kroeker started as an AME at Calm Air and his initial management role was Reliability and Engine Manager, where he created a massive reliability program for the airline, essentially from scratch. Kroeker was then promoted to Director of Maintenance Programs where he oversaw the implementation of Maintenance Operational Control to Calm Air. “That was a big, big change for our operation… because you have somebody dedicated to the operation all of the time.”
In early 2021, Kroeker took on his current role overseeing a team of around 100 people in the department. “We’re investing a lot of time into my team and helping them grow on their journey,” he says.
Captain, Airbus A320, Air Canada,
Kolasa-Scott, age 39, holds more than 20 years of experience in aviation, working in a variety of roles before starting her dream job in 2019 as a Captain at Air Canada, flying the Airbus A320. She completed her flight training in both BC and Ontario, paying for training by working as a Finance Clerk at Parks Canada in Revelstoke, as a flight school dispatcher, and as a Manager and Ramp Supervisor at Pearson International Airport.
After obtaining her qualifications, Kolasa-Scott worked as a Dispatcher with Central Mountain Air and as a De-Icing Technician and Pad Controller for Aéro Mag 2000. Her piloting experience would soon include flying the Piper Navajo Chieftain, King Air B100, Cessna 208 Caravan, Beech 1900C and D, and the Dash 8. Flying cargo, charters, medevac, corporately and with regional airlines developed Kolasa-Scott’s vast pilot experience which she actively shares as a mentor.
In addition to providing discovery flights for Cadets, she continues to help lead the West Canada section of The Ninety-Nines as Scholarship Chair and has also served with the BC Coast Chapter. Kolasa-Scott has provided support through the BC Aviation Council, Canadian Women in Aviation and Elevate Aviation. She earned a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle University in 2019.
Stores Duty Manager, YYZ Hub,
Air Canada, Mississauga, ON
Loren, age 32, began his aviation career in 2007 with Air Georgian as an Inventory Controller, while he completed Seneca College’s part-tme Commercial Aviation program. Loken was concurrently training under Centennial College’s Parts Technician Apprenticeship Program. In 2013, he joined Sky Regional Airlines as Lead Materials Coordinator, helping to build the young airline’s (founded in 2010) Stores & Material Control department at YYZ for the Embraer 175 transition from Air Canada.
Loken in late-2014, at age 25, was presented with an opportunity to join Emirates in Dubai to help develop the Materials Management Department for its new $120 million Emirates Engine Maintenance Centre (EEMC), which supports the powerplant repair and overhaul for GE90 and GP7200 engines. He also leveraged the support of Emirates to complete a Master’s degree in Aviation Management.
After working for close to four years for Emirates EEMC, Loken in 2018 returned home as Stores Duty Manager for Air Canada’s YYZ Hub. At Pearson International, he managed the project development and transition of the logistics and supply footprint within the largest freestanding, uninterrupted commercial hangar span in Canada (Bay 5), built at a cost of $90 million. In 2020, his role at Air Canada expanded to include serving as Acting Regional Manager, SCM Operations at YYZ, as he oversaw a team of around 120 staff (pre-pandemic). Loken also returned home to earn his Commercial Pilot’s licence, as he is now working toward his Multi-IFR rating. He has been a member of the Urban Pilots Network (UPN) since 2007, serving on its board since 2019.
General Manager, LUX Ground Services,
Jutras, age 32, came to aviation from the banking industry, and, two years ago, had the opportunity to help develop the terminal operations of LUX Ground Services, a new Fixed Base Operator under parent company Chrono Aviation, itself a relatively young charter airline founded in 2012. Chrono mainly operates 737-200 and Pilatus PC-12 flights from the LUX terminal in Montreal as the FBO also serves operators like Jetz, Miami Air and more.
LUX began its operations out of Montreal St. Hubert, YHU, with full ground handling, passenger and customs services, and partnerships with both Avfuel and WorldFuel. The FBO has now expanded to Mont-Joli, Port-Meunier and recently Quebec City Airport. The St. Hubert location also just completed a 45,000-square-foot hangar. Jutras was part of the team responsible for opening and beginning all operations out of the private airport terminal, from hiring and creating procedures to departures and customer service.
LUX has tripled its number of employees, even in this difficult environment, and is now looking to expand in three different provinces. The company is also working with YHU authorities to become a designated airport and to attract commercial airlines in the short term.
FDM Program Manager, SKYTRAC Systems,
Manson, age 32, graduated from Farnborough College of Technology, and joined SKYTRAC in 2014 progressing through roles like Software Test Lead and Client Services Coordinator. He is now the youngest member of SKYTRAC’s management team and recently led the development of its key Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) technology. In this role, he managed a global team of flight data analysts, software developers and embedded hardware specialists working within a range of aviation sectors like aerial firefighting, offshore oil and gas, EMS and SAR.
Manson also enables aerial firefighting fleet operators with SKYTRAC’s Operational Loads Monitoring System. He played a key role in SKYTRAC’s acquisition of Latitude Technologies, which required amalgamating two disparate FDM departments. “We enabled various synergies, obtained profitability and implemented a series of processes to ensure our projects get completed in a timely manner, at a rate significantly higher than held by either of the FDM departments on their own. This year alone, we have onboarded 31 aircraft and lead SKYTRAC in on-time project implementations.”
In May 2021, Manson was tasked with leading SKYTRAC’s GADSS program, an initiative outlined by ICAO to establish an aircraft-tracking time interval of 15 minutes for all planes with a take-off mass of 27 000 kgs or 45,000 kbs when flying over oceanic areas. The complex technology, being ushered in following the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 tragedy in 2014, in addition to earlier losing an Air France flight heading to Brazil, is built around an autonomous distress tracking (ADT) concept.
Captain, Keewatin Air, and First Officer, WestJet Encore,
Martin, age 30, discovered aviation through his father, who, as an RCMP officer serving in Yellowknife, regularly accessed remote areas via airplanes. Martin at age five remembers joining him for a flight on a Twin Otter and being hooked. “I became very attached to the Canadian Arctic and it is one of the reasons why I worked at Keewatin Air for as long as I have,” Martin says. He has now dedicated more than half of a decade to flying in the remote communities of the Arctic, helping to provide essential medevac services and, throughout the pandemic, vaccines.
After flight school, Martin dispatched at Keewatin for about a year before joining the flight line and becoming a First Officer with 200 hours – “diving right into the deep end” – and within a year and a half was upgraded to Captain.
Martin recently joined WestJet Encore to take a new direction in his career, but after being furloughed because of the pandemic, came back to Keewatin to keep flying in a capacity he loves.
Director of Engineering, Facilities and Maintenance, StandardAero,
Mazurek, age 33, recently took on a role expansion to include enterprise-wide responsibilities and process-related engineering disciplines. He now holds technical authority for more than $40 million in capital infrastructure projects. This role expansion also allows Mazurek to leverage StandardAero’s enterprise-wide technical networks, which connects more than 100 multi-disciplinary staff – in areas like thermal, NDT, metrology and plating, among others – across more than 40 sites.
Mazurek continues to realize results in substantial cost- and risk-reduction for capital infrastructure projects, focused on capturing value at operating locations and during expansion, acquisition integration phases, and energy reduction initiatives. He focuses on providing positive and action-oriented team environments to promote collaboration, problem solving and collective sharing of lessons learned. To this end, he has helped to develop a transparent system for the retention of critical organizational knowledge across the global technical team.
“It’s so fun to be a part of it. That’s one of the rewards of being in the technical functional support group: We are right in the middle of dealing with change,” Mazurek says. “Our operations teams rely on us to support and enable change in their respective areas, to increase their readiness to take on the work coming in to our shops. This lets them focus on perfect execution of the day to day, where we get to take a step back and help apply the evolution of technology into our business.”
CEO and Co-founder, Helicopters Without Borders,
McClung-Sitnam, age 28, became one of the youngest helicopter pilots to achieve his ATPL in Canada and the U.S. at 21 years old. He holds several type endorsements and has accumulated more than 3,000 flight hours, primarily in Alberta and BC. Working wildfires and EMS instilled in him a passion for the power of community support through aviation, which has also been a pillar of Helijet, cofounded in 1986 by his father, Danny Sitnam.
McClung-Sitnam dreamed of flying for the United Nations and World Food Program missions, but by the time offers came in, including some from Nigeria and Haiti, he had already signed onto new domestic contracts. So, at age 26, he began working on initial concepts for a humanitarian-focused, not-for-profit helicopter company, while also working toward his MBA at Royal Roads University.
Helicopters Without Borders (HWB) was incorporated in 2019, but McClung-Sitnam and its directors determined instead that the not-for-profit needed Canadian charity status to be truly effective in the capital-intensive rotorcraft sector. HWB then earned charity status in early 2021 to become the first such entity in Canada focused on helicopters, airplanes, RPAS and eVTOL.
Fundraising through private donors began immediately and, in early 2021, HWB partnered with the First Nations Health Authority to deliver vaccines, doctors, PPE and supplies to some of the hardest to reach communities in Western Canada. As part of its industry-inclusive mandate, HWB is now contracting helicopter and fixed-wing air services from aviation operators in BC. To save costs in the initial start-up of HWB, McClung-Sitnam is serving as principal pilot and operations organizer on all flight missions.
President and CEO, Celtic Air Services and Axair Aviation,
Port Hastings, NS
Morgan, age 39, developed his career with a range of commercial operators like CanJet Airlines, First Air, Nolinor Aviation, Human Logistics, and he has most recently held a VP position with Chrono Aviation. In 2017, he took a significant step to branch out on his own with the founding of Celtic Air Services at Allan J. MacEachen Regional Airport in Port Hawkesbury, Cape Breton.
The FBO supported a significant increase in international air traffic for the airport and region, which was becoming a preeminent golf destination, in addition to the island’s traditional tourism position. “Hundreds of business jets were coming in here when there was very little service available and we just thought the airport was ripe for development,” Morgan explains.
After developing the FBO, Morgan added a helicopter platform to Celtic Air to accommodate tourism growth. In late-2020, he acquired a small Quebec charter company called Axair Aviation to diversify Celtic’s services. “Atlantic Canada has very few small charter companies and we always thought that we should have a way to develop our own traffic… the airfield is here, the hangar, the fuel, and the customer service team, so it’s become about building a vertically integrated company.”
PT6A Delivery Supervisor, StandardAero,
Oliver, age 34, began his career at StandardAero’s Summerside facility in 2006 as a PT6A Assembly Apprentice. Three months later, he was promoted to technician and, in 2008, started to lead his own build team.
Oliver in 2009 was promoted to a Class 3 technician within the PT6A Final Assembly department. In 2011, he was selected to join Summerside’s engine test group, where he learned how to test engines on the facility’s dynamometer test cell. Two years later, Oliver was promoted to Lead Hand within the PT6A Delivery department, becoming the facility’s youngest Lead Hand at the time. Oliver in 2015 was promoted to PT6A Delivery Supervisor, working closely with the engineering department to troubleshoot any issues that arise during the PT6A delivery process.
“I enjoy teaching, showing the team how to build or if they look at things a different way that they can actually build faster and smarter,” says Oliver. “The biggest joy I get is to share the knowledge that I have gained over the last 15 years.” In addition to being a certified PT6A Engine Assembly Technician (Class 3, MRT Technician), Oliver has also completed AS9110B auditor training and Dale Carnegie leadership training.
Lead Hand, General Aviation, PropWorks Propeller Systems,
Patel, age 25, completed the AME program at Red River College in 2017. He landed his first aviation job as a baggage handler with Calm Air, but soon moved to Aero Recip, which provided the opportunity to work on engines, assemblies and disassemblies, testing and in the stores department.
At the end of 2018, Saurin joined PropWorks, which focuses on overhauling propellers and governors to a standard that meets or exceeds manufacturer’s requirements. “We have customers from all around the world, so I’ve been able to work on a range of propellers,” Saurin says. “They also do composite work which is the future of aviation, so I get great hands-on training.”
PropWorks in June 2020 promoted Saurin to Lead Hand, General Aviation, and he now supervises a staff of six technicians with responsibilities for all aspects of propeller overhaul, as well as training new employees. Saurin also returned to Red River College to take its Business Analyst program on a part-time basis. “Aviation engineers are trying to replace aircraft engines and fuel with electric motor and batteries, but I don’t think they will be able to replace propellers.”
Manager, Analysis and Aviation Business Development, Nieuport Aviation,
Rao, age 30, found his passion for aviation living in four countries and travelling to 32 countries before the age of 18. He graduated from UBC in 2014 and spent a year working at Western Economic Diversification Canada, before taking his first aviation job in mid-2015 with Edmonton International as an Air Service Development Analyst.
At the start of 2016, Rao move to Toronto and began a Pricing Analyst role with Porter Airlines, before returning to government for close to three years. He joined Nieuport in July 2019 as Manager of Business Development. At Nieuport, which is the owner and operator of the Toronto City Airport (YTZ) Passenger Terminal Building, Rao focuses on working with airlines to create strategic connections and business opportunities. In July 2020, he spearheaded a major pricing and capacity study to understand the economic impact of current and alternative pricing structures on airline activity levels and the economic impacts for Nieuport and the City of Toronto. “We wanted to figure out on which routes were profitable, out of our airport, and understand the best ways to support our carriers through our current aeronautical fee structure. Finally, we wanted to realize is what is demand going to look like in the next five to 10 years.”
This latter focus led Rao to create a five-year aeronautical forecast to estimate passenger demand at Toronto City Airport from 2021 to 2025. “Right now, the airport is slot controlled at 202 daily slots every day of the year. Based on our forecasts and analysis, we know that passenger demand exceeds the current slot limits based on the airports premium location and passenger mix,” Rao explains, who is also Chair of Nieuport’s Environmental, Social, and Governance Committee.
Vice President of Operations, Chrono Aviation Group,
Sade, age 37, graduated from Georgian College’s aviation program in 2009 and subsequently completed his Master’s in Aviation Management with Griffith University, focusing on the topic of why airlines fail, specifically long-haul, low-cost operators. Sade began his career at Cargojet and had an internship with the Ottawa International Airport as a Response Centre Coordinator before joining First Air as a Flight Operations Quality Assurance Coordinator in 2011. At First Air, Sade gained experience for the challenges of operating in the Canadian Arctic.
In 2013, Sade found himself learning the commercial aviation world inside Quebec’s aerospace cluster working with Nolinor Aviation, taking on a number of roles from Assistant Director of Flight Operations and Director of Scheduled Operations to a Technical Writer on contract. In 2017, he joined Transport Canada as a Civil Aviation Safety Inspector focusing on technical program evaluation and coordination. His ability to analyze issues and research, in addition to his writing skills, quickly made him key resource for senior management.
In 2018, he was presented with the opportunity to join Chrono Aviation, at the time an up and coming Quebec based charter airline, founded in 2012, with a diverse fleet ranging up to 737-200 aircraft. The entrepreneurial leadership of Chrono and its scope of 702, 703, 704, 705 and part 129 operations was well suited for Sade’s scope of aviation knowledge. “We have a very unique operation and, overall, the workforce is extremely motivated and dedicated,” Sade explains. “I’ve used the pandemic to look at our costs and to make the operation more efficient.” This will include ramping up new 737-800 aircraft aiming to gain a range and payload advantage in an increasingly competitive market.
First Officer, Wings Over Kississing, and President, Steinbach Flying Club,
Salimkhani, age 28, completed his Bachelor of Arts in Aviation at Providence University College, in Otterburne, Manitoba. In 2020, he completed his Multi Engine Rating and Group 1 IFR at Harv’s Air Service in Steinbach and in March 2021 became a First Officer with Wings Over Kississing, where he began working as a Flight Booking Agent in 2019. Salimkhani is currently flying a King Air 100 to communities in northern Manitoba and Ontario.
For the past two years, Salimkhani has also served as President of the Steinbach Flying Club (SFC), which he has been helping to lead since mid-2017 as a member of its executive. Serving as President since August 2018, the initiatives and programs under his leadership have allowed SFC to more than double its membership. At the same time, three new aviation-related businesses have established operations at the airport, CJB3, which has resulted in the creation of 20 new full-time jobs.
Despite the pandemic environment, the airport remained relatively active through 2020 with a 17 per cent increase in traffic and fuel sales when compared to 2019. Much of this expansion of the club can be attributed to Bardia’s leadership, hard work and vision. Today, the most notable project he is focused on is a proposed eight-acre expansion of the airport hangar, maintenance and related flight services. “There is a museum right next to the airport and we have been in negotiations with them,” Salimkhani explains, describing how the group is working together to figure out what can best work for the airport, attracting the public and new business. “They have agreed to sell the land and we’re in the process of submitting a proposal for that purchase.”
Manager, Safety and Environment, Sunwing Airlines,
Sawicki, age 30, completed his Bachelor of Management and Organization with a specialization in Commercial Aviation Management at Western University in 2012 and that same year joined Sunwing Airlines as a Safety Coordinator. He progressed through the airline’s safety department with greater roles and responsibilities before becoming Aviation Safety Manager at age 25. In April 2021, Sawicki was appointed to his current position as Manager, Safety and Environment, taking on a more strategic role and leading the airline’s current environmental efforts. “We really try to maintain professionalism and trust with all of our frontline employees, because they are our eyes,” Sawicki says, describing his team’s efforts to develop open lines of communication to benefit Sunwing’s safety culture. “Our employees are the ones who see the possible hazards in operations, we want them to know their reports will be handled appropriately and also show them how valuable this information can be.”
Sawicki is a member and volunteer with the NGPA (National Gay Pilots Association) and is recognized as one of Canadian aviation’s leaders in promoting LGBTQ2+ inclusion. He was a founding member of Sunwing Airlines’ employee-led diversity and inclusion committee (You Are You! at Sunwing (Y.A.Y!)), in 2018. Y.A.Y! has since rebranded and expanded as Sunwing’s Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and encompasses all of the company’s global entities.
“It’s now a Sunwing Travel Group initiative that covers all eight of our divisions from Alberta to Antigua, the whole gamut,” Sawicki explains. “From an airline point of view, inclusion is good for CRM and flight safety. If people feel safe at work and feel like they can be themselves and there’s no judgement, that’s good for safety. We do a lot to get rid of distractions in the workplace and build on teamwork, but if inclusion is not part of the discussion, then we are missing something.”
Senior Manager, Aerostructures Engineering, Cascade Aerospace,
Schmidt, age 35, completed seven years of post-secondary education at Carleton University with a Bachelor of Engineering and a Master of Applied Science, focusing on Aerospace Engineering. This included the opportunity to serve as an engineering intern with Viking Air assisting with flight testing and certification of its Turbo Otter conversion. During this time he also evaluated the engine performance of a 200-pound autonomous UAV – back in 2006 and 2007.
Bringing his engineering skills and passion for aviation to Cascade Aerospace was a natural fit for Schmidt, joined the company in 2011. He has been a key member on a number of marquee programs, including: C-130 operational and maintenance training simulators for the Canadian Air Force; C-130 avionics upgrades for the Mexican Air Force; auxiliary external fuel tank modification for a Q400; and, most recently, an avionics upgrade on Viking Air’s CL-415 and CL-215T aircraft. He has also led all flight test programs at Cascade since 2013, flying as a flight test engineer and/or coordinating the test team as Flight Test Director.
In April 2021, Schmidt was promoted to his current senior management role within engineering and now oversees a team of 20 engineers, carrying out all aspects of mechanical design, including prototype development, structural substantiation, production liaison, and in-service support for legacy products. “We’re busier than ever right now. My team is supporting 18 different airplanes for about 13 different customers… actively being maintained in five hangars in three countries,” Schmidt explains.
Program Manager, Commercial Development Programs, Bell Textron Canada,
Senthilnathan, age 32, completed his Bachelor of Engineering at McGill University in 2012 and joined Bell’s Mirabel facility, where he would fulfill an ambition to help lead the future direction of aviation and aerospace technology – instilled in him at the age of 12 after seeing a documentary on Discovery. His path at Bell began as an Airframe Design Engineer before moving into roles such as Production Supervision and Program Management.
Senthilnathan in 2015 was selected for the Bell Front Line Leadership program. That same year, he received the Bell Spot Award for the BEIMS Migration project where he was involved in the project management, testing and implementation of ENOVIA 2013X, which impacted more than 300 users alone at the Mirabel Site. In 2016, Senthilnathan completed a high-visibility project for the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) on-time and on-budget. In 2018, he was promoted to Engineering Manager and tasked with directing a team to develop, build and fly the Electrically Distributed Anti-torque (EDAT) system on a twin-engine 429 testbed, which is likely to one day change the face of Bell and very possibly the entire vertical-lift industry. EDAT is composed of four small fans within a tail rotor shroud in an offset two-by-two pattern. Each of the rotors contains four blades, which are powered by separate motors with the electrical energy provided through generators driven by turbine engines. This design effectively reduces noise and offers lower operational and maintenance costs compared to an aircraft with a conventional tail rotor.
“The great thing about this project is that it changed our mindset, our mentality for what we thought was possible,” Senthilnathan says. “One of our values at Bell is to make the impossible possible and, in this project, we were really able to do that.” The EDAT team in 2019 completed its first flight and Senthilnathan, along with three colleagues, received the Lawrence D. Bell Pioneer Award for Innovation. He also completed his MBA at McGill in the same year. Senthilnathan was promoted to the position of Program Manager with a mandate to build entirely new business and revenue streams for Bell.
Anna Julia Sirghiuta
Customer Experience Specialist, PortsToronto,
Sirghiuta, age 28, founded Georgian Skies nearly four years ago while she was at Georgian College, pursuing a career in aviation after earning a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Toronto and worked as a Flight Attendant with Air Canada Rouge. The initial mandate of Georgian Skies focused on inspiring and supporting women in their pursuit of careers in the Canadian aviation industry. Georgian Skies, however, soon took on a new direction to also focus on inclusion and equality, aiming to provide direct peer support for anyone on campus who felt different.
The college recognized the organization’s importance by awarding Sirghiuta with its Changemakers Award. The group continued to foster inclusion through a conference program that eventually turned virtual under the pandemic environment. Georgian Skies continued to build itself as a mentoring program, which now stretches outside of the campus to support diversity across the aviation industry, with the college also committing to continue the program when school returns to more normal conditions. The Georgian Skies executive was taken over by a new cohort of students, but Sirghiuta remains involved in helping to steer its important work for diversity and inclusion. In late 2018, she joined PortsToronto as a Customer Experience Specialist.
PRM, MD-M, Heli-Lynx Helicopters,
Stoney Creek, ON
Thistlethwaite, age 39, comes from an aviation family with his father and uncle working in the industry. He spent his childhood in Papua New Guinea before coming to Canada at around age 14 and would graduate from Canadore College’s Aircraft Maintenance Technician program in 2002. He pursued his apprenticeship with Brampton Flying Club until Heli-Lynx provided him with the opportunity of moving into the rotary wing sector.
Then, as a new company focusing on maintenance and completions of light Eurocopter aircraft, Heli-Lynx provided Thistlethwaite with a range of experience from avionics and painting to structural repairs, component overhauls, composite repairs, major STC incorporations and maintenance. In the past few years, under new ownership, Heli-Lynx’s focus remains on being a leader of premium completions and maintenance. Thistlethwaite oversees all production and AMO operation, including off-site pre-purchase inspections and aircraft imports/exports, drawing on his experience as a skilled AME, college instructor and many years as a manager.
“We are completely transparent with customers, in what we’re doing and what it costs, and giving them options,” Thistlethwaite says, explaining why he feels Heli-Lynx is a unique company. “We want them to see the value in what they are spending and the quality workmanship that we can provide.” With multiple type endorsements, A&P license and Minister’s Delegate qualification, Thistlethwaite plans to start his rotorcraft flight training.
Captain and Flight Surgeon, Royal Canadian Air Force,
Cold Lake, AB
Thorgrimson, age 32, was posted to CFB 4 Wing Cold Lake in mid-2019 as a Medical Officer, before taking on her current role as a Flight Surgeon. 4 Wing holds Canada’s primary fighter jet fleet, as well as a rotary-wing SAR squadron, and a range of tactical and maintenance squadrons, as well as Canada’s world-class tactical fighter force training.
From Kenora, Ontario, Thorgrimson is a role model as a Metis person who is developing her expertise in aerospace medicine, supported by a BScH in astrophysics, MSc in quantum physics and completion of medical school and residency at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. “The military was the best avenue for me to pursue that goal and, in between medical school and residency, I earned my pilot’s license, which was a lifelong dream,” she explains, noting how rewarding it has been to serve in the military, which recently included a training mission in a CF-188 Hornet fighter, reaching 48,000 feet and pulling 7 Gs. Thorgrimson is currently working toward her CPL. Among a range of community involvement, including previous work with the Metis Nation of Ontario, Thorgrimson is the Director of the Canadian Society of Aerospace Medicine, a Board Member of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, and Vice Chair for The Ninety-Nines, Sleeping Giant Chapter.
Ryan Van Haren
Founder, Cardinal Aviation, and Chief Pilot, Onni Group,
Pitt Meadows, BC
Van Haren, age 36, founded Cardinal in 2018, as he worked full time as an Air Traffic Controller, to promote proficiency and safety among GA pilots. His 11 years of commercial flying experience and seven years of ATC provided a unique perspective to share with clients of all skill sets. Cardinal is now a full-time operation with a team of more than 12 pilots, coaching on everything from piston aircraft to Turbine TBMs.
Van Haren started his career by flying Twin Otters for Kenn Borek in the Canadian Arctic, followed by work with Northern Thunderbird (B350 and B1900) and Helijet (Learjet for medevac) before moving to corporate jets with Onni for three years, which was then followed by NAV Canada as a Terminal Radar Controller. Van Haren also helped start the not-for-profit BC General Aviation Association.
In May 2021, Van Haren rejoined Onni to serve as its Chief Pilot and Aviation Manager, which includes the opportunity to fly a Gulfstream GV. “I’m honestly more excited about running the department and creating a collaborative and forward-looking culture than I am about the airplane,” Van Haren explains.
Vice President, Sales and Cargo, Menzies Aviation (Canada),
Wong, age 39, graduated from SAIT’s avionics program and he also earned a Bachelor of Business Administration, which followed his earlier pursuit of aviation through the Air Cadets, earning his PPL at age 16.
Wong joined WestJet where he worked in progressive roles for the next 10 years, eventually becoming Manager of Operational Performance in 2016. After then working with clearGRID, focusing on flight operations for data collection and analysis, Wong joined Menzies Aviation in mid-2019 as Station Manager for its YVR base. He soon took on responsibilities for business development in Canada, leading 100 per cent growth of airport operations in Canada and significantly increasing Menzies’ partnership portfolio. Wong also collaborated with the company’s Americas business by supporting its air cargo interests. In his current dual role, which he took on in November 2020, Wong is a key leader in providing global airport logistics services for Menzies.
Wong is a member of the Toronto University Health Network Impact Board and is a pilot with the rank of Captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force CIC, committed to the ongoing development of Canadian youth in the Air Cadets program. He is also a small business owner with a focus on training of motorcyclists across Alberta.
First Officer, ATR 42 and 72, Calm Air International,
Yorsy, age 30, immigrated to Canada from Egypt in 2010 and earned his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering in the field of Aerospace and Propulsion in 2016. During this time, he started flight training and completed his licences with Cargair Flight Academy to become a commercial pilot in 2017, which is the same year he joined Collins Aerospace as a Certification and Airworthiness Program Engineer. In this role, he was embedded with Bombardier in Montreal to help with certification programs on its business aircraft. “Seeing how everything was integrated was a massive opportunity to witness from an engineering and flying prospective,” Yosry says.
Yosry has now been at Calm Air for close to two years, leveraging the company’s extensive program designed to train low-hour pilots, joining the company as soon as he reached 250 hours. He moved from Montreal to Thompson, Manitoba, where the airline holds one of its key bases as a gateway to the north. He is flying the ATR 42 and 72, with most of his time spent on the latter larger aircraft for its ability to carry up to 15,000 pounds of cargo. “We fly in very rough and remote areas and having that experience at a young age is huge,” Yosry explains, thinking like a pilot, describing the advantages of working with Calm Air, flying into the Arctic with gravel and icy runways, sometimes with landing weights close to 45,000 pounds in low visibility.
Outside of the cockpit, Yosry is involved in serving his pilot group as its elected Air Line Pilots Association union representative and Vice Chairman at his base. He is an Auxiliary Firefighter with the Thompson Fire Department and a volunteer with the local ski hill.
“Serving my community in my free time is extremely rewarding,” Yosry says. “It allows me to learn new skills while expanding my network.”