Who Is Best Qualified to Lead an Aviation Company?

My wife works at a local school district. Last week, a group of teachers and administrative staff got together for an after-work social event.

I enjoyed spending the time walking around and talkng to different people. As I was talking to one teacher, the subject of the newly-hired school superintendent came up. Out of curiosity, I asked him, "Does someone have to be a teacher to be a superintendant?"

"I'm not sure, but I would guess so," he replied. "How can you lead a school district if you have never been a teacher yourself?

"OK," I added, "But isn't a superintendant basically the CEO of the school district? Wouldn't an MBA and stong leadership skills make someone just as qualified as a former teacher to lead the school?"

"I don't think so," he replied. "How could you expect the teachers and staff to support someone who has never taught a day in his or her life?"

In the world of aviation, having aviation experience isn't necessarily a requirement to lead. We have had FAA administrators that were not certified pilots or mechanics. Were they any less qualified to lead the FAA? I wonder how FAA inspectors feel about reporting to someone who has never turned a wrench or flown an airplane in his or her life?

And what about the airlines? There have been plenty of CEOs at the helm of the airlines without a lick of aviation experience. I guess it doesn't take aviation experience to run a successful airline (or run it into the ground for that matter).

And then there are aviation maintenance companies. There are many aviation maintenance companies spearheaded by CEOs and presidents who's only aviation experience is flying in the cabin of their business jets or as passengers on an airline.

So, who is best qualified to lead an aviation company -- someone who worked in the trenches as a pilot or mechanic, or someone with a business degree?

I would like your feedback. Do you feel that someone with aviation experience is more qualified to lead an aviation company? Why or why not?

You can email your responses to me by clicking here.

Thanks for reading!

Joe Escobar

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D.O.M. magazine is the premier magazine for aviation maintenance management professionals. Its management-focused editorial provides information maintenance managers need and want including business best practices, professional development, regulatory, quality management, legal issues and more. The digital version of D.O.M. magazine is available for free on all devices (iOS, Android, and Amazon Kindle).

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Joe Escobar (jescobar@dommagazine.com)
Editorial Director

Greg Napert (gnapert@dommagazine.com)
Publisher, Sales & Marketing

Bob Graf (bgraf@dommagazine.com)
Director of Business, Sales & Marketing