Vice President of Aviation Operations and Technical Services, Regional Airline Association (RAA)

Prior to taking up his position at RAA in June, 2019, Bill was the General Manager of Flight Operations Training at Compass Airlines. Compass Airlines was formed in 2006 and Bill was one of the team that formed the airline and was instrumental in setting up the Flight Training department to introduce the Embraer 175 into service for North West Airlines. Prior to that he was the Manager of Flight Training for Independence Air, responsible for all Canadair Regional Jet and Airbus A319 ground and flight training. And, from 1999, in turn, he was an instructor and Manager of Ground Training for Atlantic Coast Airlines, responsible for implementing the ground training program for the Jetstream 32, Jetstream 41, Dornier 328 Jet and Canadair Regional Jet. A career military pilot with the British Royal Air Force (RAF), he graduated from the RAF Central Flying School as a qualified flight instructor in 1968 and in addition to front line squadron and staff assignments was associated with training and checking pilots on jet aircraft until his retirement from the service in 1997.

At RAA, Whyte provides subject matter expertise on aviation operations, aviation safety standards and safe operating practices. He serves on industry operations and technical task forces and working groups, including agency rulemaking and regulatory advisory committees. He also acts as the liaison between RAA and the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, NextGen program and related organizations.

Regional Airline Association Industry and Training – Looking to the Future

In early March this year while preparing for a presentation for WATS 2020, the topic in mind was the shortage of pilots and maintenance technicians and of course the worrying trend of a reduction in the number of pilots and maintenance technicians choosing to follow a career in the airlines. Fast forward to October 2020 and the spread of Coronavirus and COVID-19. As we all know the landscape has altered drastically and due to the reduction in airline schedules, passenger carrying airlines are now planning for unprecedented layoffs of employees to preserve cash and allow them to continue in existence until the day comes when this Coronavirus is brought under control. The question is when will the Coronavirus be brought under control and when will the travelling public be sufficiently reassured to resume their travel plans. With the airlines operating at a fraction of their high point in 2019 and no clear strategy, other than following generally accepted health guidelines and waiting for a vaccine to be developed that would allow them to resume operating at “normal” levels, the return of aircraft into service and the concomitant return of crews from furlough or back into training is a key factor.

This presentation will review some of the changes that have taken place in the regional industry and addresses the many variables in the industry as a whole that will affect the return of furloughed pilots into full time employment at the airlines. In turn, the presentation will attempt to predict the timeline when regional airlines will start to absorb new-hire pilots from the pilot training pipeline.