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Airport’s Cliff Graham Receives State’s Highest Aviation Award

8/6/2018  |  Melbourne, FL

MELBOURNE, Fla. (August 6, 2018) -- Clifford Graham of Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB) was recognized as the State of Florida’s Aviation Professional of the Year, the state’s highest industry recognition.  The award was presented at the recent Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) ceremony held recently in concert with the Florida Airports Council conference in Tampa, Fla.

“The dedication of aviation professionals, such as Clifford Graham, is the very reason Florida’s Aviation Program leads the nation,” said FDOT’s State Aviation Manager Aaron Smith.  MLB’s Executive Director Greg Donovan, a former recipient of the award, said that Cliff Graham’s professionalism, commitment to safety and teamwork earned him this prestigious recognition.  Graham’s award was announced at the Melbourne Airport Authority board meeting to a standing ovation.

Cliff Graham is the director of operations and maintenance at MLB, a position he has held since 2015. His favorite word is “safety” which remains the cornerstone of his management philosophy.  He joined the airport as an airport utility specialist in 1995.  A graduate of the Brevard County Executive Leadership Institute, he is best known in airport circles for the remarkable achievement of six consecutive years of spotless FAA inspections, one of the most arduous processes in the industry.

The Florida Department of Transportation selected Mr. Graham for this coveted honor in recognition of his recent accomplishments at Orlando Melbourne International Airport.  In the past two years alone he supervised operation during $84 million and $55 million respectively of capital improvements; transforming MLB’s airfield; completely rebuilding all three runways; construction of a new air traffic control tower; an upgraded U.S. customs facility; improvements to the on-site fuel farm, and sparking the initial phases of the airport’s terminal transformation project.  Several of the major projects were completed on time and under budget, with the all-important emphasis on safety. 

The airfield renovations required hundreds of workers on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Graham ensured the safety of all commercial, general aviation, construction and tenant operations.  MLB serves a diverse fleet mix of nearly 2,000 airfield operations a week.  The runway projects were carefully planned and scheduled for minimal impact on MLB tenants that include legacy airlines Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, the world headquarters of Harris Corporation, and Embraer Executive Jets’ assembly, engineering and customer service operation centers.  Northrop Grumman also operates its expanding Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence airside at MLB.

Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB) serves nearly 500,000 passengers annually on American, Delta, Elite and Porter. Its beachside three runways, 200,000 sq. ft. terminal and 40,000 sq. ft. U.S. customs facility are convenient to Orlando, Kennedy Space Center and Port Canaveral. The airport is also home to aviation and aerospace giants like Northrop Grumman, Harris Corporation, Embraer, Rockwell Collins, L3 and Thales, among others. For more information, visit or follow @FlyMLB.   


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