meet the team
Our success is attributable to our ability to consistently meet customer needs and expectations with passion and experience across a range of disciplines from within and outside of the aviation industry.
Our Team makeup and background:
Neil Howard – Chief Executive Officer and Founder
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Chief Executive Officer and Founder,
Absolute Aviation’s Founder and CEO’s experience in the aviation industry dates back to the late 80’s and includes a broad spectrum of aviation qualifications and experience. His unwavering focus has always been on serving the needs and expectations of customers first, and this has been the basis of all growth and development in the Group since inception. His reputation in the industry is for providing a service offering that is educated, honest, and fair, and these values remain central elements of the Company ethos to this day.
After qualifying as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer in 1990, and gaining experience and Licenses on Learjet 20, 30 and 55 series aircraft, Neil went on to complete his USA Airframe and Powerplant License in 1991.
In the same year Neil joined ExecuJet’s maintenance division as their Manager responsible for all jet maintenance. In 1994, Neil accepted the position of Maintenance Director for ExecuJet South Africa, where he was solely responsible for ExecuJet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd, which was operated as a stand-alone entity.
In 2001, after ten years of service at ExecuJet, Neil started Howard Aviation, a Management Consulting Services business that primarily managed the maintenance of aircraft on behalf of owners. During this period, Neil completed his Fixed Wing Commercial Pilot’s License and later earned his Airline Transport Pilot’s License. Neil is rated on numerous corporate jets and multi-engine turboprop models, and went on in 2006 to qualify as a Helicopter pilot.
In 2003 Neil invested in a new venture which extended reach and facilities to Cape Town to complement operations in Johannesburg. In September 2007, Neil changed the name Howard Aviation to Absolute Aviation to reflect the more business it had become. The Company has enjoyed positive year-on-year growth ever since.
Guy Worthington - Executive Director – Group Strategy and Partner
Meet Absolute Aviation Executive Director – Group Strategy and Partner,
Born and educated in South Africa, Guy comes to aviation with an extensive local and international Marketing and Sales pedigree in FMCG. His working experience since 1990 includes various functional roles within two Global Fortune 500 businesses, Nestle and JTI. In late 2007 Guy was transferred to an international role based at JTI Head Office in Geneva, Switzerland to serve 120 markets in the capacity of Marketing Director across a portfolio of leading global brands. During the course of his time abroad, his global roles included:
• Marketing Director – South Africa (at time of leaving)
• Equity and Communications Director – Camel
• Channel Strategy Director
• Marketing Director – Belgium and Luxembourg
• OTP Director
Guy returned to South Africa on offer of the opportunity to purchase an equity stake in Absolute Aviation during the time of the Comair acquisition. He joined the Absolute Aviation Team in January of 2015.
Dewald Basson - Chief Operating Officer
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Chief Operating Officer,
As Commercial Director for Absolute Aviation in Africa, Dewald Basson oversees all aspects of business transactions ranging from accounting, legal and business strategy. In this demanding role he uses his hands-on skills and years of industry experience to tackle a wide variety of issues, challenges and opportunities. In essence making sure the wheels keep turning.
Before being appointed for his current job, Dewald was Commercial Director for Absolute Aviation Service Centre from January 2016. His passion for aviation is equalled by his appreciation for the people with whom he interacts in the industry – from aircraft owners to business leaders and his fellow dynamic leadership team. Dewald believes the phenomenal growth history of Absolute Aviation is linked to the great brand portfolio and to the people in the organisation. ‘The combination of both make Absolute a very challenging competitor’, he says.
▪ Financial Manager for Ancom Aviation Ltd where he first encountered the aviation industry.
▪ Commercial Manager in the Technical Service Division of General Mining, Metals and Minerals (Genmin).
▪ Financial Manager then General Manager for Billiton Aviation (Pty) Ltd.
▪ Served as a director for CAASA (Commercial Aviation Association of South Africa) and also heading up BAASA (Business Aviation Association of South Africa) while working for Billiton Aviation. As the CAASA representative at IBAC, Dewald was a member of the IBAC working committee that produced the first internationally recognized aviation safety guidelines for private corporate operators.
▪ He joined Absolute Service Centre in 2016 stepped into the role as the Commercial Director for the Absolute Aviation in 2017.
Jackie van der Westhuizen - Chief Financial Officer
Meet Absolute Aviation’s
Chief Financial Officer,
Jackie van der Westhuizen
Jackie van der Westhuizen oversees Absolute Aviation’s finance function, ensuring accurate reporting and management of the Finance Team. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant (SA) with skills in group financial management, auditing, accounting and taxation. With more than 10 years’ experience in the financial industry, Jackie brings her problem-solving skills, ability to work under pressure and pursuit of excellence to her role as CFO.
Born and raised in Vereeniging, Jackie went on to study Accounting at the University of Johannesburg. She also obtained her Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and honours for Chartered Accounting from the University of South Africa.
During the completion of her
Absolute Aviation welcomed Jackie to the family as Chief Financial Officer in March 2017. With her firm belief that finance is the backbone of any good organisation Jackie has provided valuable information to all the business partners, helping the company make informed business decisions.
Alida Reynecke - Legal Counsel and Company Secretary
Meet Absolute Aviation’s
Legal Counsel and Company Secretary,
Alida Reynecke is responsible for legal, compliance and contractual matters for Absolute Aviation. She is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa with a particular interest in corporate/commercial law, taxation, contracts and dispute resolution. Alida is additionally charged with the role of Company Secretary in her position on the Company Board of Directors.
Alida obtained her BCom Law and LLB degrees from the University of Pretoria. After her studies, she completed her articles and practiced as an Associate Attorney in Pretoria. Alida completed her Master’s degree in Contract Law in 2015.
In keeping with Alida’s drive for continuous self-advancement to compliment her service reach and capability, she completed a Certificate in Advanced Taxation during 2020.
Mike Clark - Managing Director – Aircraft Sales and Flight Services
Meet Absolute Aviation’s
Managing Director – Aircraft Sales and Flight Services,
Mike Clark was born in Johannesburg and after completing his National Service in the South African Air Force, he studied building management. Mike gained management experience in various industries and in 1999 he joined the Aviation industry at BalmOral, a Durban based aircraft operations company.
After BalmOral, Mike joined NAC’s international operations where he gained valuable aviation operational experience. While at NAC Mike completed a Master’s degree in aviation management at the Da Vinci Institute. Shortly after completing his degree, Mike accepted a position at ExecuJet Aviation.
Mike was promoted to Operations Director and spent seven years in that position. In 2015 Mike joined Swift Flite as the CEO. In September 2020 Mike accepted a position as Managing Director, Absolute Aircraft Sales and Absolute Flight Services.
Divan Naudé - Accountable Manager - Service Centre
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Accountable Manager – Service Centre,
Divan joined Absolute in 2018 and brought with him impressive pedigree of both aircraft type experience and customer references based on his working history. His balanced experience on turbo prop and jet aircraft is a function of his employment history with, amongst others, NAC, Solenta and Execujet. As a natural consequence of his working history, Divan has considerable experience with the Textron Aviation product including in fair measure both Cessna and Beechcraft portfolios, and this has served to compliment the authority and skill of the Service Centre team.
In late 2021, as a result of both his expertise and valuable customer references amassed in his tenure with Absolute Service Centre, Divan was appointed to the function of Accountable Manager. His appointment to this function supports the focus on operational excellence within the Absolute Aviation group, and provides customers with the assurance of better functional oversight and feedback.
Elio De Oliveira - Technical Director – Service Centre
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Technical Director for Service Centre,
Elio De Oliveira
Elio De Oliveira provides technical quality assurance through technical support, capacity building and leadership to Absolute Aviation in his capacity as Technical Director for the Service Centre in Africa.
Elio has worked for the company for 28 years, bringing technical expertise and years of experience in the aviation industry to Absolute Aviation. He is known for his practical problem-solving approach and meticulous attention to detail when it comes to inspections, making sure all aircraft leave the Service Centre safely.
His journey to Absolute Aviation started in 1991 as part of his apprenticeship at Field Aviation, which led him to qualify three years later as an aircraft engineer. In 1997, he spread his wings and joined Comair.
Elio’s technical knowledge and qualifications are impressive, but he is particularly excited about the Cessna Citation product. Studying Flight Safety courses for Cessna Citation has been a top priority for Elio from 1991 until 2013.
Apart from courses in Flight Safety, Pratt & Witney and Rolls Royce, Elio has also obtained his South African civil aviation licences under the following categories:
▪ “A” Category
- Cessna 182 series
- Cessna 206 Series
- Cessna 208 Series
- Cessna 400 Series
- Cessna 402 Series
- Cessna F406 Series
- Cessna 425 Series
- Cessna 500/501 Series (citation)
- Cessna 510 (Mustang)
- Cessna 525, A, B Series (CJ)
- Cessna 550/551 Series
- Cessna 560 Series
- Cessna 560XL Series
- Cessna 680 (Sovereign)
- Cessna 750 (X)
▪ “C” Category
- Textron Lycoming IO540
- Textron Lycoming TIO540
- Pratt & Whitney PT6A Series
- Pratt & Whitney JT15D Series
- Pratt & Whitney PW530 / 535 Series
- Pratt & Whitney PW535A
- Pratt & Whitney PW545A Series
- P&W 615F-A
- Rolls Royce AE3007C Series
- Williams Rolls Fj44 Series
- Pratt & Whitney 306C
Bruce Johnstone - Sales Director – Fixed Wing
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Sales Director – Fixed Wing,
At the tender age of 22, Bruce Johnstone joined the South African Airforce (SAAF). He never looked back; having forged a successful career in the aviation industry. Bruce served in the SAAF for 10 years, where he flew a variety of aircraft. After obtaining his commercial pilot licence in the final years of his air force career, he positioned himself as a contract pilot. From there, Bruce conducted flights for global humanitarian organisations such as the International Red Cross, World Food Programme, and Médecins Sans Frontières.
Later in his aviation career, Bruce advanced into management roles. He served as Managing Director of Rossair, a specialised helicopter company, which became one of the largest “contract” companies in sub-Saharan Africa. The organisation has international bases across Kenya, Ivory Coast, Jordan, and Pakistan.
On the entrepreneurship front, Bruce has launched two aviation organisations. The first operated turboprops throughout Africa on behalf of DHL. This company expanded quickly, allowing Bruce to sell the business to a group of investors a few years later. In 2006, Bruce started another aviation contracting company, which, keeping in line with his humanitarian values, flew mainly on behalf of charitable organisations.
Throughout his commercial career, Bruce maintained his pilot licence, continually refreshing his skills by returning to the cockpit. He enjoyed a variety of flying positions on many aircraft such as Gulfstream II’s, Gulfstream III’s, and the Challenger 600 series before taking up a position with Absolute Aircraft Sales. This proved to be the ideal match as Bruce’s aviation pedigree, expertise in a wide range of aircraft, and vast aviation experience are invaluable to the organisation. In addition, his educational certifications with the Federal Aviation Administration and South African Civil Aviation Authority align perfectly with Absolute Aviation’s strict approach to quality control, safety, and aircraft maintenance regulations.
Sharlene Earle - Managing Director – Aircraft Parts
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Managing Director – Aircraft Parts,
Sharlene Earle supports the aviation industry, community and Textron product (Cessna and Beechcraft) by making sure they have everything they need to get back in the air.
She does this in her role as Commercial Director Aircraft Parts: Africa by providing the right parts at the right price, excellent customer service and proposing new innovations with her focus on local and international market research.
Sharlene recognises and respects that Absolute Aviation has the strongest product in General Aviation by being the authorised representative of both Cessna and Beechcraft and that it requires her team’s greatest effort and commitment. She leads her team with forward-thinking ideas and her strengths lie in her meticulous attention to detail.
Sharlene contributes a vast amount of knowledge to Absolute Aviation Parts with years of experience in parts management, aircraft maintenance, all aspects of aircraft importation, financing and sales as well as managing South African and foreign Air Force supply contracts.
▪ From 1984 to 2000 Sharlene was Administration Director for various companies – Talisman Electronics, Alpha Page and Lima Sierra. In her role as Director at Lima Sierra, Sharlene was responsible for the Management of the contracts with the South African Air Force for the importation and supply of Aviation parts and services for all the Cessna Citations, 185’s, Beechcraft King Airs, CAASA’s and Piper Aztecs, including service contracts, propeller and engine overhauls and exchanges.
▪ Financial Director for the
▪ Joined Comair Spares in 2014 in Parts Sales and Administration.
▪ Commercial Director of Parts in Africa for Absolute Aviation in 2016.
Timothy Semetsing - Sales Director - Aircraft Parts
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Sales Director – Aircraft Parts,
Timothy has a long and accomplished history in aviation dating back to his commencement at Execujet in 2003. His advancement through ranks and functions includes joining NAC in 2006 as a Counter Clerk in the Service Centre, to Parts Sales in 2007, to Parts Sales Manager in 2012. Timothy joined Absolute Aircraft Parts in 2017 to lead the Sales and Customer Service functions and in 2018 was promoted to the role of Sales Director for the Company. His experience and relationship history with a vast number of OEM’s has served to increase the competitiveness and relevance of the portfolio and his passion for customer service is evident in the skills development he has undertaken with his team.
Tim has an honours degree in Marketing.