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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Mrs. Megan Atkins Thoben, A.A.E.

Director, Operations & Business Development
Louisville Regional Airport Authority

Year joined?

2010

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?

LOU



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?

A.A.E.

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.



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Who qualifies for the Accredited Airport Executive Program?
A prospective Executive Candidate must:

  • be at least 21 years old;
  • be an affiliate member of AAAE;
  • have at least one consecutive year of full-time civil airport management* experience when applying;
  • have either a four-year college degree or eight years of civil airport management* experience. Prospective candidates may substitute civil airport management experience on a two-years-for-one basis, i.e., with a total of eight years of experience substituting for a four-year college degree.

*AAAE's definition for airport management is broad and inclusive. Anyone with active responsibility for the management or administration of a public airport is eligible to apply for an Affiliate membership in AAAE. Aside from airport managers and directors of operations, an assistant to an airport manager is also eligible; so is anyone who works in another capacity but whose responsibilities are related to the day-to-day operations of an airport (excluding employees of concessions, vendors, consulting firms, and construction companies, those who are not on the payroll of a public airport).

Can military experience be substituted to join the accreditation program?
The Accredited Airport Executive program is designed strictly for individuals actively working in public-use airports. However, if you are currently working in a public-use airport, and have, or are eligible for affiliate membership in AAAE, you may qualify for waiver of the one full year of full-time civil airport management experience requirement.  Please submit a copy of your DD-214 and military I.D. to the accreditation department at accreditation@aaae.org. We will review the documents and will respond via e-mail to let you know how to proceed.

Otherwise, if you are not currently working in an airport and / or do not meet the qualifications for affiliate membership, you can qualify for other levels of membership and join the Certified Member program instead. Please click here for more details.

How much does the program cost?
In addition to yearly affiliate membership dues, the cost to join the Accreditation program is a one-time fee of $275.00. This fee includes registration, study materials (electronic format), and the examination fee (candidates who need to retake the exam will be assessed an additional $75.00 for each attempt).

How can I upgrade to the Accreditation Program?
Applicants who are already Certified Members or who are candidates in the Certified Member program can pay an upgrade fee of $50 to enroll in the Accreditation program, provided that they meet the pre-requisites. It is not a requirement to complete the Certified Member program before upgrading as long as the pre-requisites for joining the Accreditation program are met. A current resume must be submitted with the program application.

I am already a Certified Member (C.M.) Do I need to take another multiple-choice exam?
No. Provided that you meet all criteria for joining the Accreditation program, you may transfer successful completion of your AAAE multiple-choice examination. The multiple-choice examinations are identical in both programs. Once the enrollment fee is paid, you need to complete only the writing requirement and final interview to receive your A.A.E. designation.

When will I be notified about the results of my application to join the program?
Once your application is approved, you will receive an official notification letter and access to the electronic study materials via e-mail within three to five business days.

Are there any time limits after I register for the program?
No, there are no time limits, but there is an administrative fee of $100 if after five years you have not completed the program. The $100 fee will be applied for every year thereafter until you complete the accreditation process.  Should you cancel your program enrollment or AAAE membership, or fail to pay the $100 administrative fee and wish to resume your program studies at a later date, a $275 reinstatement fee will be imposed.

How long does it take to complete the three phases of the accreditation program?
There are no specifics regarding how long it takes to complete the program as everyone's study habits and free time dictate how quickly one can complete the program. Other factors that impact the amount of time spent completing the program are: one's length of employment at a public-use airport (3 years is required before continuing to the final phase of the program), individual knowledge and expertise of aviation, whether or not they have a master's degree and also completion of the multiple-choice exam at the Loretta Scott, A.A.E. Accreditation/Certification Academy. Attending the academy could earn you the C.M. designation in one week if you successfully complete the exam. At that point, the candidate only has two remaining phases to complete, the writing and final interview.  At best, the program could be completed in one year if the candidate devotes the appropriate amount of time and focus and has the minimum amount of airport work experience required.

Will I receive a C.M. certificate after I pass the exam even though I'm enrolled in the A.A.E. program?
Yes, after you have passed the exam, AAAE will acknowledge you as a C.M. and will send you a certificate and lapel pin.

Are there any special benefits for new A.A.E.s?
Newly Accredited Airport Executives will receive a special A.A.E. pin immediately after completing the final interview.  In addition, new A.A.E.'s will receive an engraved plaque, a golf shirt and a complimentary meeting voucher good for any AAAE meeting, training course or workshop, as well as recognition among other AAAE members through media-related announcements and releases.

Also, new A.A.E.'s are eligible for exclusive benefits such as voting privileges on AAAE matters, scholarships, and opportunities to serve on the various committees within AAAE. You can find a full list of benefits here.

Is the Accredited Airport Executive designation permanent?
Once you have earned the A.A.E. designation, it is yours to keep, provided that you:

  1. Maintain your executive membership in AAAE
  2. Stay employed in full-time public airport management
  3. Accrue 55 Continuing Education Units within a three-year cycle

If these qualifications are not met, you will become an Inactive A.A.E. As such, you will lose both your voting rights in AAAE and other A.A.E privileges. If you are inactive for less than three (3) years, you will need to provide proof of earning 55 CEUs before you are reinstated as an active A.A.E. If you are inactive for more than three (3) years, you will need to retake and pass the written exam AND provide proof of earning 55 CEUs, before you are reinstated as an active A.A.E. For more information on CEU requirements, please see the CEU FAQ.

Does AAAE offer any meetings that will help me complete the phases of the accreditation program?
Multiple-Choice Exam:
AAAE and the South Central Chapter AAAE provide the opportunity for candidates to complete the program in a classroom environment at the Loretta Scott, A.A.E., Accreditation/Certification Academy. This week-long review course is held several times a year, with attendees completing the exam on the final day. After successful completion of the exam, candidates receive the C.M. designation.

Writing Requirement:
AAAE now offers an Accreditation Paper Writing Webinar to assist candidates with this phase of the program. Candidates can click here to purchase the webinar. Once the webinar has been purchased, please contact the Accreditation Department to gain access to the recording.

Final Interview:
To assist candidates in completing the final interview AAAE, in conjunction with the Southwest Chapter of AAAE, offers a one-day Accreditation Final Interview Workshop one time per year at the F. Russell Hoyt National Airports Conference.

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