Celebrating Leadership in Aircraft Recycling: Derk-Jan van Heerden Awarded AFRA Visionary Award


On Monday, June 24, 2024, during the ASA AFRA Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, AFRA proudly presented the Visionary Award to Derk-Jan (DJ) van Heerden, a distinguished leader in the aircraft recycling field. As the 2024 recipient of the AFRA Visionary Award, Derk-Jan is acknowledged for his visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to industry standards and environmental stewardship.

Derk-Jan’s impact on sustainable practices in aircraft dismantling has been profound. In 2006, he founded AELS (Aircraft End-of-Life Solutions), a company specializing in sustainable aircraft dismantling. Under his leadership, AELS emerged as a global leader in recycling retired aircraft, ensuring that valuable materials are effectively repurposed. From 2015 to 2019, Derk-Jan served as the President of AFRA (Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association), making significant contributions to AFRA’s mission of advancing responsible and sustainable practices in aircraft recycling. His initiatives not only shaped the future of aircraft recycling but also promote operational efficiency and responsible environmental practices, inspiring others to follow his lead.

Inspired by his passion for recycling aircraft materials, Derk-Jan established the Aethos Foundation in August 2023. Aethos is dedicated to innovative recycling practices, ensuring that retired aircraft materials find new life in the most sustainable way possible. For more information on the Aethos Foundation, visit their official website at www.aethos.aero