Curt Castagna, C.M. has a diverse background and more than 35 years of proven expertise in all aspects of aviation and airport consulting and management services.
Castagna is President and CEO of the Aeroplex business entities, which include general aviation and business aircraft centers located at the Long Beach and Van Nuys Airports. He has overseen the complete development, construction, management, leasing, sales, service and promotion of complex and diverse projects. Castagna is a current member of the board of directors for the National Air Transportation Association and a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives.
Castagna has a long history of taking leadership roles in airport tenant and aviation trade associations. He is recognized by his peers and colleagues for establishing collaborative partnerships when negotiating through complex general aviation challenges, while maintaining a focus on compromise and consensus building.
Devoted to mentoring future aviation professionals, he has over 25 years of experience as an adjunct professor, teaching various classes in the Aviation Administration Bachelor of Arts program at California State University, Los Angeles.
A certified private and instrument-rated pilot, Castagna’s background and experience bring great value to every client.
FBO operations and management
Airport and aircraft operations
Facility design, development and construction
Leasing, negotiations and business development
Airport real estate policy and management
Airport advocacy, community outreach and public affairs
Airport safety and security
Justin Castagna, C.M., P.M.P.
Director of Operations and Project Management
Justin Castagna has more than 12 years of airport and aviation development and management experience at various commercial and general aviation airports throughout California and beyond. Starting as a line service technician for Signature Flight Support, he then worked as an Airport Operations Officer at four different airports before landing at Aeroplex.
Justin is the Director of Operations and Project Management for Aeroplex Group Partners and has been responsible for managing capital projects ranging from small tenant improvement projects, to large underground water pipe ruptures, the buildout of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, maintenance and ground service facilities, taxiway throat entrances consistent with FAA advisory circular requirements, and the full-scale development of more than 20 acres of multi-million dollar commercial hangar, office, and aircraft apron facilities. He leads airport consulting projects including airport master planning, leasing policy reviews, minimum standards and rules and regulations updates, and rates/fees analysis. He also oversees the management of day-to-day operations at five of Southern California’s premier aviation facilities at the Long Beach, Van Nuys, and Santa Monica Airports, with over 250 based tenants. Castagna administers contract bidding and review and is responsible for managing all project and vendor budgets across the various projects.
A private pilot himself, Justin builds cooperative working relationships by interfacing with tenants, governmental agencies, airport and city officials, contractors, vendors, and community stakeholders. He is a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and currently serves on the Board of the Association of California Airports (ACA). With both public and private sector experience, he brings diverse and essential expertise to Aeroplex Group Partners.
Airport and aircraft operations
Facility management and administration
Contract bidding and construction project management
Airport security and regulatory compliance
Tenant and stakeholder outreach
Ian Bell, C.M.
Operations & Site Manager (VNY)
Ian Bell has accumulated over 12 years of airport and aviation property management experience. Starting as an entry-level building maintenance contractor, he was involved in the management of Aeroplex and other like facilities. Ian is now the Operations and Site Manager at Aeroplex Group Partners, overseeing over 20 acres of Aeroplex properties at the Van Nuys Airport (VNY). He coordinates day-to-day operations at the various sites, including leasing, filming agreement negotiation and facilitation, tenant improvement projects on a small and large scale, daily supervision of ongoing large-scale hangar and office development projects, supervising building systems certification as well as property management for several buildings at VNY.
He collaboratively works toward solution-oriented resolutions for development project, tenant, or facility needs at any level. His keen eye and attention to detail are value added any client to assure facilities are run safely, practically, and efficiently above expectations. Ian is a member of the Van Nuys Airport’s Safety and Security Committee and is also a Certified Member of the American Association of Airport Executives.
Luis Trujillo, C.M., P.M.P.
Project & Site Manager (SMO)
Luis Trujillo graduated in 2016 from California State University, Los Angeles, with a Bachelors’ of Science in Aviation Administration, where he played soccer on an athletic Scholarship. Luis has nearly a decade of diverse experience in the aviation industry, including operations, consulting, administrative, business development and project management.
Luis oversees the leasing and day to day property management operation at the Santa Monica Airport, including more than 500,000 square feet of office and hangar space. As he begins to expand his role, he is now leading project management efforts overseeing a variety of complex multi-million large-scale hangar and office projects in California and beyond.
Trujillo’s outstanding success in his roles has rewarded him with a well-deserved and prestigious recognition under the 40-under-40 Airport Professional Business Magazine, which recognizes young professionals around the nation who manage airports, airport-based business and corporate facilities in North America. Luis is also a recognized professional Certified Member C.M. of the American Association of Airport Executive (AAAE) and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).
Director of Administration
Erica Distler has over 10 years of experience across different administrative departments including accounting, customer service, human resources, fleet operations, account management, sales and finance. The variety of tasks involved with Erica’s position as an Administrator at Aeroplex provides welcomed daily challenges. Erica’s capability, knowledge and expertise has allowed her to excel in a fast-paced environment. Erica is oftentimes known to be a self-starter and is able to work both independently and as a team player.
Maria “Liz” Cabrera
Maria “Liz” Cabrera has over 9 years of administrative experience from working in the banking industry for notable banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of New York Mellon. Liz’s experience includes financial accounting, mortgage document handling, processing financial documents, credit investigation and analyzing financial reports. As an administrator for Aeroplex, Liz is responsible for day-to-day accounting such as payroll, accounts payable & accounts receivable. In her free time Liz enjoys traveling with her family and crafting.
Daniel Sanchez has diverse experience across a variety of industries including property management, self-storage, retail, and sports management. With over 6 years of property management experience, Daniel’s career transition to Aeroplex Group Partners came naturally. Prior to coming to Aeroplex, Daniel started as a groundskeeper, worked his way up the ranks, and promoted to a Property Manager. As a manager, Daniel developed the skills to excel in daily business operational tasks, fostering positive tenant relationships, and acting as a liaison between vendors, and contractors. His positive, can-do attitude and dedication to the craft makes Daniel a valuable asset to any team and we are proud to have him.
As Operations Coordinator at Aeroplex, Daniel assists with the daily operations at the various facilities, project management, and conducting research and analysis on aviation and airport consulting assignments. He also contributes to marketing initiatives, event and film location management, and tenant/community outreach.
Daniel is currently completing his Associate’s Degree at Fullerton Community College and plans to transfer to California State University Fullerton in the Fall of 2023 to study Business Administration. When he’s not working or studying, Daniel enjoys being outdoors, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.
Facilities Manager (VNY)
Jose Alas has over 16 years of experience in commercial building maintenance, facility management, customer service, as well as property and vendor management. As Facility Manager at Aeroplex Group Partners, Jose is responsible for the overall management of numerous facilities at the Van Nuys Airport (VNY) and manages the cost tracking of operations budget and expenses. He also oversees all of the day-to-day operations and manages and monitors all aspects of maintenance (preventive, corrective and scheduled) and construction projects to ensure quality standards are met at the Aeroplex facilities in VNY.
Jose earned a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering from the University of El Salvador Universidad El Salvador (El Salvador) in 2004.
Osvaldo “Ozzy” Vargas
Facilities Manager (LGB)
Osvaldo “Ozzy” Vargas has over 8 years of experience in facility management, commercial building maintenance and upkeep, project oversight and quality assurance. Ozzy is Facility Maintenance Manager at Aeroplex Group Partners and is responsible for the overall management and maintenance of the Aeroplex facility at Long Beach Airport (LGB). He oversees all of the daily operations, and manages all vendors and maintenance repair projects to ensure Aeroplex facilities at LGB meet the highest quality standards.
Ozzy attended Long Beach City College and earned an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts in 2011.
Facilities Manager (SMO)
Pedro Zuñiga Jr. has been working with Aeroplex Group Partners as a Facilities Manager since 2019. He assists the city of Santa Monica with the daily oversight of the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) self-service fuel island and leasing of the facilities managed by Aeroplex at SMO. Pedro also ensures tenants and users are in compliance with airport rules, regulations, minimum standards and safety practices, and compliance with city, state, and federal codes.
He is a California State University of Los Angeles Alumni where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Administration. Prior to working with Aeroplex, he served as an operations coordinator for LA County Compton-Woodley Airport for 3 years while completing his degree. He also interned at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and gained experience working closely with the construction office and gained exposure to large projects taking place throughout the airport.
His passion for planes and airports came from a very young age as he traveled to Mexico often to visit family. On his downtime he enjoys paintballing, and traveling.
After graduating from Point Loma Nazarene University with a degree in International Business Management, Allie wanted to pursue a career that combined creativity, strategy, and business. As Aeroplex’s Marketing Consultant, Allie is charged with bringing the brand to life, from website re-development to social media ideation, brand campaigns, public relations, and email marketing. She is a visionary problem-solver and creative tactician in a variety of industries, including aviation, health and beauty, biotechnology, and events.
Director of State and Local Government Affairs, American Airlines
Aviation Industry Expert
Chris Kunze brings vast experience to assist clients with environmental, noise, land use and other related strategic issues. He has managed airports for over 30 years, including the acquisition and re-opening of an ex-military airport for public use general aviation purposes.
Kunze managed all aspects of a commercial airport, with a high percentage of general aviation use, for 27 years until retirement in 2008. Since then, he has been active at that airport and others as an advisor on strategic issues.
Over the past several years, Kunze has chaired the Southern California Association of Governments Aviation Advisory Commission during development of the region’s aviation system plan. He also chairs California’s Technical Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which advises the state’s transportation commission on key aviation issues. He previously served on the FAA’s Runway Safety Task Force, which developed the first national plan to enhance airport runway safety.
Through involvement in the development, implementation and oversight of the Long Beach Airport’s Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance, Kunze has developed a comprehensive understanding of issues relating to airport noise and land use compatibility. Working with airport tenants and the FAA, he also developed the Long Beach Airport’s Minimum Standards for Aeronautical Activity.
Dedicated to educating and mentoring the next generation of aviation business professionals, Kunze serves as an adjunct professor at California State Universities Long Beach and Los Angeles. He is CFO and a board member for Global Water, a non-profit organization providing fresh clean water systems to rural areas within certain developing nations.
Shawn Schroeder, A.A.E
Assistant Airport Director, Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport
Shawn Schroeder is the Assistant Airport Director at Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, where he oversees the day-day operations including airfield safety, maintenance, facilities, security, and capital projects. Schroeder also oversees the capital improvement development program, and all construction activities to ensure compliance with federal, state and local procedures. In addition, he assists in lease negotiations, air service development, and business development.
Prior to joining Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, Schroeder served as the Assistant Director of Aviation at Springfield Branson National Airport, where he oversaw the day-day operations including airfield safety, maintenance, facilities, security, grounds services, and capital projects Schroeder was vital in the development and construction of a terminal, ARFF Station, Fuel Farm and Consolidated Rental Car Facility. Schroeder was critical in the coordination, and relocation of the facility. In addition, he oversaw and managed of a variety of construction projects ranging from landside, airside and a terminal redevelopment project.
Schroeder has over 25 years of aviation experience specializing in operations, maintenance, security, and emergency procedures. Schroeder held other operations positions ranging from non- hub to medium hub airports in Texas, California, and Missouri.
Schroeder has received an undergraduate degree in Aviation Administration from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Masters in Public Affairs from the University of Missouri. Schroeder has participated in He is a licensed pilot and an accredited member of the American Association of Airport, Past President of the Missouri Airport Managers Association, Past President of the Great Lakes Chapter, AAE, and served as a Past Board of Director for the AAAE.
Ferdinand F. Peña
Manager of Airport Operations & Facilities, Long Beach Airport
Fred Peña has over 40 years of combined airport, airline and aviation leadership experience. He has held various leadership positions with two major air carriers at airports in Hawaii and California. As a station manager he represented his company’s interests and managed their operations; administered multi-disciplined staff, contractors and vendors; and ensured compliance with all federal, state and local regulations.
As the Superintendent of Airport Operations at Long Beach Airport, Peña is responsible for day-to-day operations including airfield safety, maintenance, facilities and capital projects. His customer service experience enables him to successfully interact with airport users, tenants, internal divisions and external organizations to ensure successful business outcomes. In addition, Peña has a track record of ensuring airport staff, facilities and equipment are prepared and provisioned to deal with emergencies or natural disasters.
Peña has produced and distributed new airport documents and manuals such as a signage plan, helicopter pilot guides, inspection checklists and emergency plans. He has worked with city engineering and construction groups to ensure capital improvement projects were completed safely and on schedule. His hands-on approach resulted in Long Beach Airport receiving its first ever “No Findings” determination from the FAA during its annual certification inspection in 2008.
Peña is also an FAA-certified private pilot, flight attendant and airport security coordinator.
Ryan Leick, Ph.D., C.M.
Associate Professor, Airport Operations and Planning, Utah Valley University
Dr. Ryan Leick enjoys executing real-world solutions to the challenging aviation environment grounded in a unique and diverse career in industry and higher education. He brings strategic insight from three airlines and front-line operational knowledge acquired training airport professionals during his lifetime in aviation higher education.
Dr. Leick draws on industry experience in airline marketing, distribution and information technology gained from working for entrepreneurial startup and long-haul low-cost carrier MAXjet Airways, major network carrier United Airlines and privately held, niche carrier Aloha Airlines. His qualifications combine specialized technical application of data science with strategic understanding of the industry, a focus on value creation and large scale project management experience.
Ryan is currently an Associate Professor specializing in airline / airport operations and planning at Utah Valley University. Ryan also teaches the Certified Member course for the American Association of Airport Executives while consulting on a variety of aviation projects with AECOM.
Ryan has traveled to every continent sharing results from his applied research in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Panama, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Recent contributions to the field include research into the effectiveness of centralized deicing facilities during winter operations and the gamification of lean production management for airline schedule optimization.
He is a graduate of the Air Transport Management Ph.D. program at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom and alumni of the School of Business at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach campus.