From F/A-18 assembly to firefighting and piloting an air ambulance, Greg Wyght’s career has taken him in some surprising directions. Today his role is vice-president of business development at CHC Helicopter.
How did you become interested in aviation?
As an eight-year-old boy, I spent several afternoons watching with amazement when the pilot of a Bell Helicopter 206 JetRanger used his aircraft as an aerial crane to construct the pylons for high-tension power lines that cut our farmland in half. It was like watching a slow-motion aerial ballet. From that point on, I believed the best job in the world was to be a helicopter pilot.
Where did you start?
My first aviation job came straight after college where I was a bench and airframe mechanic at McDonnell Douglas in Malton, Ontario. I was first assigned to the missile pylons and empennage for the F/A-18 Hornet. I was then assigned to work on the trailing edge flaps and accessories of the MD-80 series. Years later, after graduating from Canadore College School of Aviation Technology in North Bay, Ontario, I worked one summer as the fire attack co-ordinator for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, before my first flying job with Huisson Aviation in Timmins, Ontario. While with Huisson, I had my first opportunity to fly the type of helicopter, the JetRanger, that I fell in love with as a boy. After six months with Midwest Helicopter Airways, the business was slowing down and I had the opportunity to fly with Helijet in Richmond, British Columbia, to build multiengine IFR experience. That then opened up an opportunity as a co-pilot with the Canadian Helicopters air ambulance in Thunder Bay, Ontario, part of CHC Helicopter at the time.
Tell us about your career with CHC Helicopter
I have had various challenging and enjoyable roles, including as an air ambulance captain, a flight safety manager and a crew resource management instructor. I had the opportunity to do tours as a line pilot in Thailand, which led to the role as base manager in Baku, Azerbaijan. I was then appointed global vice-president, safety and quality and after eight years was asked to launch our global integrated operations centre in Dallas, Texas as vice-president, operations support. I recently took on the new role of vice-president, business development.
What are your current duties?
My role is focused on building relationships with customers and partners around the world that enable CHC to grow in areas outside our core regional hubs. Thankfully, I can draw from the broader CHC team with experience in market intelligence and strong global customer relationships to better understand what our customers will need. Each day is filled with reviews of analysis, potential opportunities and discussions, so we can make appropriate recommendations to our senior leadership. It is a dynamic industry, which naturally drives us to be equally dynamic in the way we approach the business.
CHC recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcyprotection. What was the experience like?
CHC’s top priority at all levels remained the safety of our people, customers and the public. To maintain this focus, one of our goals was to insulate frontline, safety-critical roles from the daily pressure and challenges an organisation is exposed to during a restructuring. We reassured our staff that the best thing we could do for our long-term health is to remain focused on the safety of our daily operations, instead of the noise around the changes. This message resonated across the business as we were able to keep all of our customers during this time. CHC was also awarded new contracts as it continued to look for fresh opportunities. I am proud that the company could deliver in such a challenging market.
Is competition strong?
In the current market, with most helicopter operators holding a significant idle fleet, it is safe to say it’s extremely competitive in all areas. That is why we have been focused on ways to become more efficient and aligned with our customers, while leveraging our global standards for safety and reliability.