I am very proud to have been given this opportunity to lead the RAAA through this next period, especially as we hopefully come out the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic this year. It has been a hell of year for all industries but even our political leaders will attest to the fact that aviation has been one of the hardest hit! Navigating out of this crisis is very much one of our highest priorities!
I have been passionate about aviation all my life, muttering to my mother when I was 5, after a flight that I wanted to be a pilot. My flying life started as an Instructor and I climbed the ranks to be a CFI/Chief Pilot of Peninsula Aero Club at Tyabb airport in Victoria. From there my aviation journey took me up north to Darwin and I was fortunate to pick up a Chief Pilot position there with the old Air Frontier (the old A-frame building next to Hardy’s). I also had some time with Air North in Alice Springs and the predecessor to REX, Kendell Airlines as Metro 23 FO in Adelaide and then SAAB 340 Captain in Sydney. Then Cathay Pacific came calling and I spent the next 15 years based in Hong Kong, flying the B747 initially but then 12 years on the B777, on which I saw out my flying career as a Check/Training Captain.
But alas, once my wife (a Canberra girl who I met in Hong Kong) and I had our 2nd child, we both yearned to return to Australia. We have been living in Canberra now for just over 7 years and I have been fortunate enough to reinvent myself working for the government in many different areas within the aviation portfolio. I worked at CASA and was the project leader of Part 121 (will come in handy later this year!) and as Senior Adviser to the previous CEO Shane Carmody. I have had 2 stints up at Parliament House as a Senior Adviser (Aviation), the first time with our previous Minister, the Hon Darren Chester and more recently with the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Michael McCormack. Recently I finished up as Government Relations Manager at Airservices Australia before commencing here at the RAAA.
I never imagined myself working in government, especially for a Deputy PM! However, I believe all those roles and the strong relationships I have built over the years on top of my broad aviation experience has set me up nicely to take on a role such as the CEO at the RAAA. I have seen both good and bad engagement with government and I believe if we want to be that strong voice at the highest levels in Canberra, we must work with the government and its agencies. This does not mean we have to just roll over and accept any decision, but there are number of productive ways to get results, even if they are not the full results you may have wished for.
With my government experience I have worked closely with our Department, CASA, Airservices and ATSB officials and senior management and believe I have built a very respectful relationship, which I will utilise as much as possible in this role.
The importance of being a member of an association such as the RAAA has never been as critical for an industry. We really appreciate in these difficult times your continued support, without it we just would not be able to exist. There is strength in numbers and I know for sure the RAAA can be a strong advocate for our aviation industry to government and ensure that when we talk, they listen! I look forward to meeting you all one day soon over a beer or three but until then please don’t hesitate to contact me on email or mobile, am always happy for a chat or to assist where possible.