Air Force chief moves into commercial space

NEW ROLE: CTC Aviation's new managing director, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell.
NEW ROLE: CTC Aviation's new managing director, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell.

After 41 distinguished years with the military, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell is turning his hand to the commercial aviation sector.

The current Air Force chief was recently named the new managing director of Hamilton's CTC Aviation, a position he will officially take up upon his retirement from the Air Force in February next year.

Stockwell began as a navigator with the Air Force in 1973, and worked his way up to the rank of Air Vice-Marshal before being appointed to his current post in 2011.

Stockwell has been involved in all aspects of senior operational and training leadership in New Zealand and overseas, including in flight training roles and as director of Air Force Training.

In his new role with CTC, he will be responsible for Hamilton's world-leading pilot training school - credited with bringing millions to the Waikato economy each year as students from all over the world come to work, live and play here.

He will be in charge of 45 planes, 100 staff and 70 instructors, along with the around 300 students at any given time.

Stockwell is in no doubt as to the biggest obstacle he faces.

"I think the biggest challenge for me is going to be stepping into the commercial world.

"I've never operated in that space before, so obviously there's a difference."

The job first appeared on Stockwell's radar when his son went through the CTC training course, and later worked there as an instructor.

"It was a very professional organisation, it's very well resourced so the UK parent company has obviously invested a lot into New Zealand.

"What I like about it is that they've got a very clear product; they want to produce professional airline pilots, and they've got a very well resourced setup to do that."

The organisation is also well placed to take advantage of a predicted boom in global demand for airline pilots, he says.

"The global aviation industry is growing at a phenomenal rate.

"It is one of the preeminent aircraft pilot training schemes in the world, let alone New Zealand, so CTC will be looking to take advantage of that growth in the industry."

He said he will bring strong leadership to the job, and a clear focus on maintaining safety standards.

"I've got a very good understanding of safety and airworthiness because that's obviously a key part of our flying in the airforce," he said.

It was under his watch that an investigation was carried out into the 2010 ANZAC day Iroquois crash that killed three New Zealand Air Force pilots.

Under his watch, too, the Air Force played a part in the Christchurch earthquake recovery operation.

He acknowledges that the Iroquios crash, in particular, had an impact on him.

"There are things I learned through dealing with that accident that strengthen my knowledge in some areas and certainly I'm very mindful of having very clear procedures and processes in place and developing a very strong safety culture."

It is a strong safety record, along with continuing growth, that Stockwell hopes will eventually become his legacy for the company.

Waikato Times