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Helicopter Association International (HAI) has announced that James Russell Spray, retired president and chief executive officer of Safran Helicopter Engines U.S., is the 2018 winner of HAI’s Salute to Excellence Bell Lifetime Achievement Award.
Spray, from Flower Mound, Texas, is honored for his lifetime of service dedicated to the helicopter industry. The award will be presented at HAI’s Salute to Excellence Awards Dinner at HAI Heli-Expo 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Spray’s career in aviation operations and management spans 53 years, including 42 years in executive administration. His career includes working as a helicopter pilot for Pacific Airmotive Corporation, and as a helicopter flight instructor for Bell Helicopter Textron and Southern Airways, where he was responsible for the accident-free training of more than 500 pilots.
He held the position of vice president of medical operations for Rocky Mountain Holdings, growing the air medical services division from seven helicopters and $3 million in revenue to more than $100 million in revenue per year with 90 aircraft. Spray later took over as chairman and CEO of Rocky Mountain.
More recently, Spray held the position of president and CEO of Safran Helicopter Engines, formerly Turbomeca, from 2003 until his retirement in late 2016. While he was with Safran, he concurrently held the positions of president and CEO of Microturbo, Inc., Turbomeca Canada, Ltd., and Sagem Avionics.
During his tenure with Safran Helicopter Engines, the company doubled its number of employees, saw multiple facility expansions, was awarded two major military contracts, and developed or strengthened relationships with Airbus and Bell Helicopter.
He has also served as chairman of the Emergency Medical Services Committee for HAI (now Air Medical Services), was the co-sponsor of the American Society of Hospital Based Emergency Air Medicals Systems (now called the Association of Air Medical Services), and has been an officer and member of numerous other boards and associations.
Throughout his career, Spray’s work has resulted in numerous accolades. He was a previous recipient of HAI’s Golden Hour award for his contributions to air ambulance safety. Just prior to his retirement, Spray received the Medal of Honor of the Order of St. Michael for his contributions to U.S. Army Aviation.