2021 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Byron Chavez, PE, Aviation Engineer, RS&H

Dec. 9, 2021
Courtesy of RS&H
Byron Chavez
Byron Chavez

Aviation engineer Byron Chavez, PE, is a motorcycle enthusiast. He not only likes to ride motorcycles, he’s also taken interest in working on them and is in the process of fixing up a 1990 Harley-Davidson. “It has really given me a greater passion for not just riding but understanding how motorcycles work,” he said.

A senior airfield civil engineer with RS&H Inc., he took a similar approach to general aviation. “When I was working on general aviation airports throughout Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, I often worked with airport stakeholders and managers who were not engineers but pilots,” he said. “I would often get the question of whether I was a pilot, which I wasn’t. I saw a value in furthering my understanding of aircraft operations and the pilot’s perspective that would help with design. I obtained my private pilot’s license in 2016 when I was in Austin, Texas, to bridge the gap between what we were engineering and the pilot community. Getting my license gave me a greater passion for the industry and really rounded me out in my career. It’s also a lot of fun to teach other airfield engineers about aircraft operations and pilots’ viewpoints, which helps them understand why we are doing what we are doing and how we can better our design.”

Today Chavez is the western region airfields leader at RS&H. He manages many simultaneous projects at airports in southern California, including major airfield and landside projects at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

“All of the projects I have worked on give me a great sense of purpose and reward to what I am delivering to the various communities,” he said. “I have always enjoyed the end product of what I am designing. Getting to see something I designed in construction and ultimately being used is what keeps me excited about my work.”

His approach when communicating with clients is being open and honest with realistic expectations. “It can be easy as consultants to be ‘yes’ people, and say, ‘Yes, we can get that done,” he said but it’s better to be direct and honest if something is unrealistic and present a more realistic solution.

The 14-year veteran of aviation consulting and infrastructure design is a member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and the American Society of Civil Engineers. In 2020, he was recognized as RS&H’s Young Professional of the Year for Aviation.

At RS&H, Chavez is an influential associate who drives innovation and technology. He led the company’s effort to transition from a paper-based quality review process to an electronic-based, collaborative software review process that is now standard operating procedure. He has also brought clients into electronic-based, collaborative software submittal reviews using the same approach saving time on aggressive deadlines while maintaining a quality product.