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Accredited Airport Executive Program

Becoming an Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) is a great way to command respect in the airport industry. Since 1954, AAAE has been committed to the advancement of aviation professionals by granting the A.A.E. designation to those who have demonstrated their ability to handle the responsibilities of airport management. The program is open to Affiliate members of AAAE and IAAE. The Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) is a useful credential when seeking employment within the airport management profession.

Candidates in the A.A.E. program will obtain the designation by completing a three-step process:

  1. A 180-question, multiple-choice examination
  2. A management research paper, case study, proctored essay examination, or proof of an advanced degree
  3. A final interview with a panel of A.A.E.s.

You can complete the program in any order, but the final interview must be the final step. There are no time limits for program completion; however, after five full years in the program, you must pay an administrative fee of $100 annually until the program has been completed. Should you cancel your enrollment or fail to pay the $100 administrative fee, and wish to resume your program studies at a later date, you will need to pay a $275 re-enrollment fee.

Note: You must be an Affiliate member of AAAE or IAAE to enroll in the Accreditation Program.
Join now if you are not an active Affiliate member.

A.A.E. Spotlights

Meet some of the people who have achieved their A.A.E. and find out what the designation and AAAE mean to them. 

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Megan Atkins Thoben,  A.A.E.

Director, Operations & Business Development
Louisville Regional Airport Authority

Year joined?


Who is your industry mentor?

I'm fortunate to have two incredible industry mentors, Dan Mann, Executive Director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority and Eric Frankl, Executive Director of Blue Grass Airport.

What has being involved in AAAE meant for your career?

I attribute a great deal of my career success to the connections I’ve made and the experience I’ve gained through the industry involvement opportunities that are afforded to all members of AAAE.

Favorite airport code?


Dream destination?

Bora Bora

If someone wrote a biography about you, what would be the title?

Small Chick, Big Punch

What AAAE designations do you hold?


What has AAAE training/certification meant to you?

Attending AAAE-hosted meetings throughout the duration of my career has allowed me to build my go-to network of industry colleagues whom I'm fortunate to also call my friends. AAAE's training and certification programs have provided me with a solid foundation of industry knowledge and continue to prepare me for each and every next step or new challenge in my career.

Determine your eligibility for the program.
A prospective accreditation candidate must:

  • be at least 21 years old;
  • have current affiliate membership in AAAE or IAAE; Click Here to Join, if you are not an Affiliate member
  • have worked full time for a public-use airport for at least one consecutive year *
  • have either a four-year college degree or eight years of civil airport management** experience

*Prior military experience may exempt you from the one-year of public-use airport experience (documentation required).
**Accreditation candidates may substitute civil airport management experience on a two-years-for-one basis, with a total of eight years of experience substituting for a four-year college degree.

Candidates upgrading from the Certified Member Program:
Candidates enrolled in the Certified Member program who wish to upgrade to the accreditation program may do so at any time, provided that the above pre-requisites are met. The fee to upgrade to the accreditation program is $50; successful completion of the C.M. program/multiple-choice exam prior to enrolling in the program is not necessary provided that you’ve met the pre-requisites listed above. Candidates who are C.M.’s and have completed the multiple-choice exam will advance to the writing phase of the accreditation program.

2. Submit your application.
Once you have determined whether or not you meet the program pre-requisites, please submit your application on-line or by mail/fax along with the program fee (and affiliate membership dues, if needed). Fees are as follows:

  • Affiliate Membership - $275/yearly
  • Accreditation Program Fee - $275 (one-time fee)
  • Accreditation Program Upgrade Fee - $50 (one-time fee)

The one-time program fee includes access to electronic study materials, a one-time access to the paper or Internet based exam and all other examination and evaluation fees. Hard copies of the study materials may be purchased here.

3.  Begin Studying ASAP!
Candidates are encouraged to download and print (or purchase hard copies) of the following accreditation study materials:

  • The Body of Knowledge modules strictly pertains to the multiple-choice exam, although they are a very good reference point for the writing and final interview phases of the program. Some individual knowledge and experience, as well as other sources of reference will be needed to successfully complete the writing and final interview phases.
  • The AAAE Accreditation Program Guide is a detailed guide of what to expect, and to assist you in completing each phase of the program.
  • Hard copies of the study materials may be purchased here.

4.  Arrange to take the multiple-choice exam.
Candidates attending the Loretta Scott, A.A.E., Accreditation/Certification Academy will be given the opportunity to take the exam at the conclusion of the review course. For all other candidates, you will need to schedule your exam here (fees may apply). All exams will be taken on a remote proctoring platform. A computer with a webcam, internal microphone and internet access is required. Two weeks' notice is required for all exams. Please review the exam instructions and guidelines prior to scheduling your exam. Failure to adhere to these guidelines can result in AAAE invalidating your exam.

The multiple-choice exam is identical to the one designed for the Certified Member program. If you are already a Certified Member, you do not need to re-take it upon enrollment in the accreditation program.

5. Fulfill the Writing Requirement.

Select one of the four options to complete the writing requirement:

  • Management Research Paper - Write a management research paper of 20-30 pages on a topic that is broadly applicable to airport management to propose a set of guidelines for managing a problem or set forth an argument for implementing a project or using a methodology.
  • Case Study - Prepare a case study of 20-30 pages to recount/analyze the steps or measures taken by a specific airport or airport system in implementing a project or managing a problem.
  • Proctored Essay - Respond to two industry-related questions within a four-hour time limit via our online proctored essay system. You will be required to find a certified proctor according to the guidelines. Kindly be advised that proctors are only necessary to provide technical support and security of the exam. It is up to the candidate to prepare the two responses for review. This is an open book exam.
  • Proctored Executive Memo - Write a response in memo format to one industry-related situation, within a two-hour time limit, via our online proctored essay system. You will be required to find a certified proctor according to the guidelines. Kindly be advised that proctors are only there to provide technical support and security of the exam. It is up to the candidate to prepare the response. Candidates cannot use reference materials for this exam. This option is strictly available for experienced senior-level executives. You may be asked for verification of eligibility if you choose this option.
  • Master's Transcript or Above - Submit an official transcript of record from an accredited university or college to AAAE's accreditation department to verify that you have earned an advanced degree.

For more information on completing the writing requirement, and/or to get started on completing the writing phase, please click here. AAAE now offers an Accreditation Paper Writing Webinar to assist candidates with this phase of the program. Click here to find out more.

6. Complete the Final Interview.
All A.A.E. program candidates, under the guidance of their regional examiner, are required to be interviewed by a panel of at least three active accredited airport executives to determine the candidate's overall knowledge of airport management. Depending on your experience, and the schedules of you and your regional examiner, this process can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to complete. All candidates will be evaluated by their regional examiner to determine their readiness to complete the final interview phase. The format for the Final Interview is similar to that of a high-level job interview.  Be prepared to frame your answers as if you are the Executive Director at a commercial service airport. Candidates must have accrued at least three years of full-time public airport management experience before sitting for this interview. For more information on completing the final interview phase, click here.

7. Life after the program
As an Accredited Airport Executive, you will have earned the respect of your professional peers and the privilege of using the A.A.E. designation after your name. You will receive several awards, notifications and privileges especially for earning the A.A.E. designation.

For more information on what to expect after you’ve completed the program, please click here.

You will also need to maintain your title by accumulating CEU credits, which demonstrate that your knowledge is keeping pace with changes in the industry. For more information on accumulating and reporting CEU’s, please click here.

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